Everyone wants a yard with lush green grass that lasts all year long. While many people simply pick the first bag of grass seed they see, you might want to be a little pickier. Laying the proper type of grass seed is important if you want to nurture the best lawn and garden you can get.
The climate of your area plays a major role in how well grass does or does not grow. In other words, you need to know specifically what the best grass seed for New England is.
If you are getting ready to prep your yard for the season, grass seed is the perfect place to start. You need a solid coat of grass seed as the base for all other gardening in your yard from shrubbery to beautiful outdoor plants. Here are all of the facts that you need to know to choose the best grass seeds for the New England climate.
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Choosing the Best Grass Seed for New England: Understanding Hardiness Zones
Part of the reason that it is hard for homeowners to choose the best grass seed for New England homes is the variation in climates. Along the East Coast, there is a wide variety of climates that range from harsh winters to relatively balmy ones.
As you proceed toward the northern end of the coast, you find states like Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont that have short summers and long, harsh winters. More southern states and those that are located more inland like Connecticut and Massachusetts are a little different. They have longer summers and their winters are not nearly as harsh and dramatic. Those states that have coastal areas have even more variables that must be taken into consideration.
One of the best ways to determine the best grass seed for New England lawns is to determine your USDA hardiness zone. This is the gold standard map that gardeners and growers use to decide which plants are most likely to thrive in any given location. The map itself is designed to account for the lowest average temperatures found in each location throughout the winter. Each zone is divided into 10-degree Fahrenheit zones.
New England temperatures range from a 3B to a 7B on this hardiness zone map.
As a result of the temperatures found on the hardiness map, homeowners can easily make a wiser decision about what the best grass seed for their New England home will be. Despite the wide variation in overall average low temperatures, all of these places have one common theme. They do better with cool-season grasses which tend to thrive in zones seven and above.
A cool-season grass is more active during the chillier times of the year, perfect for the early spring and fall seasons found in New England. They do not do as well during the warmer seasons like the height of summer, particularly if they are planted in southern states where the temperatures tend to soar.
These cool-season grasses are much hardier, perfect for the below-freezing temperatures found during a typical New England winter. They give you the best chance of success at having a thriving green yard year-round. Unfortunately, a scorching summer may cause them to turn brown in the heat and sun. However, you might be able to lay some annual ryegrasses that can help patch brown spots quickly.
If you are interested in planting cool-season grasses, here are the major four types that you should consider:
- Kentucky bluegrass
- Tall fescue
- Fine fescue
- Perennial ryegrass
Throughout New England, many people love the look and feel of Kentucky bluegrass. It is one of the most commonly seen types of grass seed and for good reason. It holds up well during the colder climates found in the northern states along the eastern coast. The blades themselves are light to dark green, giving your yard the thick and full appearance that you have been searching for.
Keep in mind that it works well in colder climates. This means that it will often stop producing new growth during heat spells that are greater than 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
In terms of maintenance, this type of grass does require periodic fertilization and frequent watering. If you are concerned about how your grass would survive through a drought, then Kentucky bluegrass is probably not for you. You should also remember to mow this grass relatively high at 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches.
Out of the two different types of fescue, tall fescue does require more maintenance but the overall look and feel could be worth it for you. Compared to Kentucky bluegrass, it is a bit coarser and it has a more vibrant green color. It also tends to bunch together to form a lawn that appears thick and full even though some other varieties are thicker.
If you are concerned because you live in an area where droughts are common, tall fescue could be the solution that you have been waiting for. It has roots that go deep beneath the surface of the soil, making it easier for it to soak up the remaining water and nutrients. Tall fescue requires only moderate amounts of water instead of the high water needs of bluegrass.
You will want to set the mower a bit higher for this type of grass, clipping it at two to three inches.
Do you naturally have a black thumb that kills every plant you touch? If so, then fine fescue is probably the way that you should go when searching for the best grass seed for New England. It is an extremely low-maintenance option that grows well in almost all conditions including in the shade and dry soil. The only major drawback is that it can be easily damaged and crushed so avoid fine fescue if your yard sees major traffic.
There are several different varieties of fine fescue that you may want to try. These can include chewing fescue, red fescue, and hard fescue. All can survive and even thrive in cold or windy areas.
It should be kept relatively short like Kentucky bluegrass at 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches.
Perennial ryegrass is a great selection for grass seed for New England. Many people use it in combination with Kentucky bluegrass. On its own, this type of grass is ideal for a mild climate. However, it can survive through some cold winters. It can hold up well under harsh conditions and foot traffic, much like tall fescue. Unfortunately, it does not do well in soaring summer temperatures.
Many people choose to mix perennial ryegrass with bluegrass. This is because the ryegrass sprouts up so quickly and makes the yard appeal thick and full. Meanwhile, the bluegrass takes a bit longer to grow and take hold of the soil.
If you plant perennial ryegrass, you should note that it does well with just moderate shade tolerance. The mowing height should be kept at 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches.
Best Grass Seed for New England Climates – Top 3
If you want to choose the best grass seed for a New England home, then you should know what is on the market today. While many of the leading manufacturers do not tell you specifically what type of grass is included in their seed, you can still make an educated decision about whether it is right for your yard. Here are the top three choices that you may want to consider.
1. Pennington Smart Northeast Mix Grass SeedNo products found.
Do you live in an area that suffers from droughts year after year? If so, then this No products found. (on Amazon) should be near the top of your list of considerations. They use a drought-tolerant variety of seeds that are also highly disease-resistant. According to their claims, you can save up to 30 percent more water year after year over other ordinary grass seeds. It helps your grass grow dense roots that are better at retaining water over the average bag of grass seed.
This particular blend is great for sunny areas that see approximately four to eight hours of sunlight each day. With a window like this, almost any yard can benefit.
As all good grass seeds are, this proprietary blend of seeds represents a cool-season perennial mixture. It should germinate in about one to two weeks. One three-pound bag covers roughly 1,000 square feet of your yard.
2. Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Sun and Shade Mix
The weather in New England can certainly be a bit finicky from time to time. One day you might see full sunshine while the next leaves your yard in the dark. Fortunately, there is a grass seed that can cope with the fluctuating levels of sunshine near your house. The Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Sun and Shade mix is designed for both full sun and dense shade to give you a wonderful fine-bladed texture that makes your yard look thick and full.
This is one of Scotts’ most versatile mixtures yet. It promises to remain green in the extreme conditions of New England. They coat their seeds with Scotts’ patented 4-in-1 WaterSmart PLUS coating that helps seeds absorb more water, feed with essential nutrients, and protect seedlings from disease.
If you live in an area with little rain, this seed will be perfect as it has a medium to high drought resistance. One bag of this mixture can cover roughly 8,000 square feet, making this seed quite a bargain. It will begin to grow within five to ten days. You should remember that it can take up to sixty days to become fully established.
Remember that you must plant this grass seed when the conditions are right. Because it is a cool-season grass seed mixture, you should plant it when temperatures are between sixty and eighty degrees. Early fall is the ideal time, but spring will also work if the temperatures are not too hot.
3. Scotts Turf Builder Tall Fescue Mix
Much like their Sun and Shade Mix, Scotts also has a wonderful Tall Fescue Mix that can make your yard vibrant and thick. This grass seed is perfect for standing up to heat, drought, insect infestation, and disease. You get the full benefits of tall fescue grass when you select this particular blend of seed.
They have the 4-in-1 WaterSmart PLUS coating that helps to protect seedlings and nourish them with essential nutrients and water. Compared to uncoated seeds, this blend will stay moist up to two times longer. Fortunately, this helps jumpstart its growth so that you can start to see results quickly. They should appear in the first six to fourteen days. It may take up to thirty to sixty days to establish the grass.
Because this is a cool-season grass, you should also plant it when the temperatures are between sixty and eighty degrees. Experts from Scotts recommend planting it during the early fall because of the cooler nights and heavier dews. However, springtime will work just as well.
One bag of this mixture will seed up to 5,000 square feet.
The Perfect Grass Seed for New England Homes
While there are some standards in place, it is hard to say exactly which type of grass seed is going to be the right fit for your New England home. You can take the right steps to find out by researching your particular zone, considering how much sun and water your seeds will receive, and how much maintenance you want to do. From here, it is just a matter of finding the right grass seed blend that will give you that perfect and charming New England yard!
If you are interested in learning more, you can check out our other articles about lawn care.
What is the best grass seed to use in New England?
If you want to plant grass in a cool climate, you need cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue, or perennial ryegrass.
What is the fastest-growing grass seed?
An example of fast-growing grass seed is the Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Sun and Shade Mix. It may sprout in as few as five days.
When should I plant cool-season grass seed?
Early fall is the best time to plant grass seed in New England. This is because there are cooler nights, shorter days, and heavier dews. However, you can also plant it in the early springtime when the temperatures range from sixty to eighty degrees Fahrenheit.