Q: I need to overseed our lawn this fall. Where can I find some of the Kentucky bluegrass varieties that you recommend which are more drought and heat tolerant (America, Apollo, etc.)?
A: These cultivars may be older and there are better, improved cultivars on the market today. Purchasing high quality grass seed is one of the most important considerations when overseeding, renovating, or establishing new lawns.
First–what to look for in lawn seed…
Generally, standard lawn seed mixtures for Minnesota will contain a large percentage of Kentucky bluegrass, with perennial ryegrass and strong creeping red fescue included. For existing average quality lawns this is a good mixture of species, and chances are your lawn already has some of these species established.
Perennial ryegrass will be the first species to germinate, generally 3-5 days after planting, and the other species will fill in over a 10-30 day period. Bluegrass and ryegrass do not perform well in the shade, so creeping red fescue is a great addition to this mix for its shade tolerance.
What about annual ryegrass?
Ideally, it’s best to choose mixtures without annual ryegrass because it will compete with other grasses during establishment and it will not persist for longer than one year. However, a small percentage of annual ryegrass in a seed mixture is okay and won’t cause long lasting issues in lawns.
Our best advice is to taylor your seed to your situation–what your existing turf is made up of and the light and soil conditions.
Best drought-tolerant Kentucky bluegrass
We recommend a mixture of 50-60 percent common type Kentucky bluegrasses and 40-50 percent fine fescue.
Include at least 2 varieties from Aquila, Monopoly, Nassau, Newport, Nuggest, Park, Ram 1, Rugby, South Dakota Certified, Sydsport, Touchdown, or other common Kentucky bluegrass.
One or two varieties of fine fescue (sometimes listed on the seed label as creeping red fescue, Chewings fescue or hard fescue) should be included. Turf-type tall fescues may also be used if foot traffic and drought tolerance are desired.
Where to buy the right seed mix
We’ve compiled a list of vendors of where to buy grass seed. This list is presented for practical purposes, and in no way implies endorsement of these companies by the University of Minnesota.