Are you wondering what grass seed to plant in your Tennessee yard? There are so many different kinds of grass on the market, the choices can seem overwhelming! Not all grass is the same and each type of grass seed has it’s own advantages and disadvantages.
The best grass seed for Tennessee usually includes a blend of grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass and Fescue to get a balance of benefits from each.
Keep reading to learn all about the different types of grass seed available, the benefits and best uses of each, and some tips on planting grass seed and caring for your lawn.
Two Main Types of Grass Seed
There are two main types of grass seed that are used in Tennessee. Warm season grass seed and cool season grass seed.
Warm Season Grass Seed
Warm season grass seed thrives in hot weather and the grass will look green and lush in the summer time. It typically dies back in the winter causing your lawn to look dry and brown.
Cool Season Grass Seed
Cool season grass seed does best in cooler temperatures. It will look lush and green in spring and fall but won’t do as well during the very hot summer months. They may be green in the winter or become dormant if the temperatures stay very cold for an extended period.
The Best Grass Seed Types for Tennessee
Tennessee is in what’s known as the transition zone. The climate here includes both hot and cold months so either type of grass seed will work well, but neither will look green year round.
The weather in Tennessee is often unpredictable, especially in winter. There may be periods of cold temperatures below freezing for an extended period of time, or there may be winters where the temperature barely drops below freezing at all.
Summers are typically hot and humid with regular rain, though it’s not unusual to have periods of drought.
The frequently changing climate makes it hard to pick one single best grass seed for Tennessee.
There is not one grass that will look great in every season in Tennessee so a mix of both warm and cool season grass seed is often recommended for a balanced, healthy looking lawn year round.
The Best Grass Seed for Tennessee Lawns
Each type of grass has its own advantages, disadvantages, and maintenance requirements. Here is some information about the most common types of grass seed you’ll find in Tennessee.
Kentucky Bluegrass is a cool season grass that can tolerate a small amount heat. It will look dense and green throughout the spring and fall but may go dormant in very hot or very cold temperatures.
It prefers full sun and can tolerate a small amount of shade.
This grass has short roots so it’s not very drought tolerant. To keep the lawn green it will need regular watering.
Bluegrass is a self spreading grass meaning it will easily spread to fill bare patches in your yard. It holds up well in high traffic areas and recovers quickly from injury.
The seeds take longer to germinate than some other varieties, but once they do germinate the grass spreads quickly.
There are several types of fescue, the most common ones you’ll find in grass seed for Tennessee are fine fescue and tall fescue.
Fine fescue does very well in heavy shade. It’s great for a backyard that has a lot of trees as the grass will still grow.
Tall fescue prefers more sun but can tolerate some shade.
Both fine fescue and tall fescue grow quickly and have high tolerance to drought. They have deep roots that help them get moisture even when conditions are dry.
Fescue grasses are not self spreading, so they won’t grow to fill in bare spots. They are moderately tolerant to foot traffic.
There are two main types of ryegrass, perennial and annual. Both are cool season grasses.
Annual ryegrass is generally not recommended for lawns because you will have to reseed every year. It’s good for certain uses like short term erosion control, but it’s not well suited for areas that you want to keep grass in year after year.
Once established, perennial ryegrass will not die out each year, though it will go dormant in very high temperatures.
Ryegrass is excellent for tolerating heavy foot traffic. You will often see Ryegrass on athletic fields because it performs well even with a lot of use and abuse.
Ryegrass is a good grass seed to use with a warm season grass to have green color in the winter months.
Zoysia is a warm season grass native to Southeast Asia. It was first introduced in the U.S. in 1911. This grass has high drought tolerance and can look healthy and green throughout the summer months.
If you don’t like to mow a lot, this may be a good grass for you. Zoysia grows slowly so you won’t have to mow as often. The grass is disease resistant and tolerates heavy traffic pretty well.
It does well in moderate shade but also tolerates full sun.
Buffalo grass is another warm season, slow growing grass. You won’t have to mow it as often as you would many other grass types.
It will look green throughout the summer and brown in the winter. It takes a while to regain it’s green color once the temperatures start warming up.
Buffalo grass is low maintenance and easy to take care of. It is drought tolerant and good for lawns that get a lot of foot traffic. It does well in thick, heavy soil which is what we have in most of Tennessee.
Grass Seed Blends
The best grass seed for Tennessee is a mix of multiple varieties. With a blend you can maximize the advantages of the different grasses and choose the types you like best. Fescue and Bluegrass is one of the most common blends you can find in Tennessee.
You can make your own blend of grass seed by mixing together multiple varieties, or buy seeds already mixed.
What Type of Grass should I avoid in Tennessee
It’s a bit of a personal preference, but I don’t like Bermuda Grass. It grows like a weed, spreads quickly and can be hard to get rid of. Bermuda grass will try to grow into your flower beds and other areas where you don’t want grass. It’s not as attractive as other grasses either, but one advantage is it doesn’t grow very tall, so it can be good if you don’t like to mow a lot.
When to Plant Grass Seed in Tennessee
The best time to plant grass seed in Tennessee is mid fall-late winter. This is when weather conditions are ideal for the seeds to germinate and grow.
You can plant grass seed in the spring or summer but you’ll have to compete with weeds and the grass may struggle if the weather is very hot or very dry.
Tips for the Best Grass in Tennessee
Once you’ve found the best grass seed for Tennessee you’ll want to take care of it in order to keep it looking green, lush, and healthy.
The soil in Tennessee typically isn’t great for grass. It’s often heavy clay and full of rocks. For the best grass you may want to add some amendments before putting down seed or choose a grass seed that includes fertilizer or soil conditioner to help your grass thrive.
Use a Blend
There are many benefits to using a blend of grass seed in Tennessee. Since no one grass type can look green year round here, using a blend can keep your grass looking greener for more parts of the year.
Some grasses spread and some don’t, so using a mix of both can keep your grass looking full and lush. A blend of fescue and bluegrass is commonly recommended for Tennessee and gives a good balance of features.
Don’t Cut it too Short
For the healthiest grass, mow to the length recommended for your particular type of grass. You can find this information on the package of grass seed.
Water During Droughts
The last tip on our best grass seed for Tennessee is about watering. This state gets so much rain that you don’t need to water. If you’re not used to watering it can be easy to forget that your lawn needs water when it hasn’t rained in a while. To keep your grass green and healthy, make sure to water during droughts.
Time to Plant the Best Grass Seed for Tennessee
It may be difficult to find the right grass seed for your Tennessee lawn but hopefully this guide helped narrow it down and give you some ideas on what will work best for your particular yard. Once you’ve chosen the best grass seed for Tennessee and planted it, you’ll be so happy to see your beautiful, green lawn thriving year after year. For more Tennessee articles visit our Tennessee section on the blog.