The Best Grass Seed for Pennsylvania | Nature's Seed (2022)

The one thing that most homeowners take for granted is usually the easiest to neglect. For a property, that’s usually the state of its lawn.

It can take just one season for a neglected lawn to go dry, get thin, bare, and patchy. Even if you know the basics of lawn care and maintenance, the problem might not be with the frequency of attention or care, but rather, the kind of grass seed you’re using.

In Pennsylvania, grass seed types depend on the climate, soil’s hardiness, and the intended use. This page will teach you everything you need to know about keeping your Pennsylvania yard healthy and green.

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The Growing Conditions for Grass Seed in Pennsylvania

The best way to find the right Pennsylvania grass seed is to start with the USDA Plant Hardiness zones survey. This is a map that outlines the temperatures across the different vegetation zones in the United States.

The Best Grass Seed for Pennsylvania | Nature's Seed (1)

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In Pennsylvania, there are three zones of hardiness. 90% of the state falls under temperatures between -20 to -10 (blue) and -10 to 0 (dark green). This makes it a cool/humid zone, and if your property falls in this region, you can only plant cool season grasses.

Only about 10% of the state, which sits at the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania, experiences temperatures that fall between 0 and 10 degrees. The southern region is also known as a transitional zone, and you can plant a combination of cool and warm season grasses.

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The winters in the state are usually bitter, with freezing temperatures, and heavy snowfall. If you haven’t spent the optimal seeding times, this can hit your lawn particularly hard. For example, you should plant cool season seeds during the fall season to properly seed and prepare your lawn for winter dormancy and spring germination.

Types of Grasses

There are quite a few grass seed types that can be used in Pennsylvania. Generally, the rundown of popular grass types for Pennsylvania includes the following varieties:

Fine Fescue

  • A cool season grass
  • Ideal for low maintenance turfs
  • During cold weather, it produces an attractive and uniform cover with a medium-green to dark-green color
  • Extremely fine-textured and works well in mixes
  • Tolerate soils with low fertility, low pH, drought-prone soils, and shade
  • Not suitable for hot or humid conditions, poorly drained soils, high traffic areas (like sports fields)
  • Requires high rates of nitrogen fertilizer
  • Become semi-dormant under long periods of death but recover quickly with the return of cool temperatures and moisture

Kentucky Bluegrass

  • A cool season grass
  • Has a medium- to fine-leaf texture
  • Perfect for rejuvenating soils, thanks to its extensive underground stems known as rhizomes
  • Fast recuperation compared to other grass seed types
  • Cold-tolerant, wear tolerant, moderately heat tolerant, and drought tolerant
  • Most optimal growth during the spring and fall, but becomes semi-dormant in periods of heat and long drought
  • Like Fine Fescue, recovers quickly with cooler temperatures and adequate moisture

Rough Bluegrass

  • A cool season grass
  • Lighter-green in color than Kentucky bluegrass
  • Produces above-ground stems called stolons
  • Highly shade-tolerant and prefers moist soils
  • Used in lawns under shaded conditions where there is adequate or excess moisture
  • Will decline during the hot, dry months

Tall Fescue

  • A cool season grass type
  • Persistent and durable
  • Use in low-maintenance areas like highway medials, airstrips, etc.
  • Fine texture, high tiller density, darker-green color
  • Can also be of coarse texture
  • Shouldn’t be mixed with fine fescue because it will form coarser, thick clumps in an otherwise uniform lawn

Perennial Ryegrass

  • A cool season grass
  • Consistent dark-green, fine to medium-textured grass
  • Produces a “bunch-”type growth
  • Germinates rapidly in about 5 to 7 days and establishes just as quickly
  • Aggressive growth and quite competitive, which makes it the right seed type to overseed thin or damaged turf with, but shouldn’t be used in amounts over 20% when in a mixture
  • Good for use alone or in combination with Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescues

Zoysiagrass

  • A warm season species that works well in transitional zone parts of the state
  • Optimal growth is during high temperatures
  • Used primarily for home lawns
  • Has a medium to fine-leaf texture and grows into a uniform light- to medium-green color
  • Has good recuperative potential
  • Performs best in moderate levels on fertile and well-limed soils
  • Does not perform well on poorly-drained soils
  • Remains dormant until late spring or early summer
  • Only right for the southernmost regions of Pennsylvania

Knowing what will grow on your property is a major part of establishing a beautiful lawn for your home. However, you still need to plant at the right time, fertilize at the right pace, and end your last mow correctly.

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When to Plant Grass Seed in Pennsylvania?

Now that you know which cool season grass seeds you can plant in Pennsylvania, you should plan out seeding and germination times for their optimal growth.

As a rule, cool means fall — in other words, fall is the best time to plant cool season grasses. That’s because the soil is still warm enough, especially with daytime temperatures, but the evenings are cooler, which promotes the natural germination power of cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass or Fine fescue.

Planting in the Fall for Cool Season Grasses

  • Use a soil thermometer to measure the temperature of the soil. It should ideally be between 50°F and 65°F.
  • Plant at least 45 days before the first frost — if you miss this window, seeds have less favorable growth conditions
  • However, when you plant during the first 45 days before the frost, your grass will have time to germinate and flourish once during the fall and once again, for a second season of growing, during the spring
  • Regardless of whether your chosen grass seed is drought tolerant or not, those first seedlings require proper moisture
  • If you can’t plant during the fall, spring is the next ideal season. However, it’s trickier to get the timing on this right because, in Pennsylvania, you can often get hit with an unexpected, late spring snowstorm that could wipe out your seeds

Planting in the Spring for Warm Season Grasses

As you might expect, warm season grasses work opposite to cool season grasses. While both these types can be planted in the spring, warm season grasses work best when planted in late spring to early summer.

  • Optimal temperatures for the soil should be at 65°F and 70°F. While late spring rains are fine, you want to avoid sudden frosts as this will keep the soil moist but cold. Cold conditions can cause rotting seeds, poor germination, and disease in warm season grass seeds.
  • If you’re waiting until the fall to plant, plan to seed a full 90 days before the first frost (which puts you somewhere between the end of July to the beginning of August).
  • Once temperatures hit 55°F, warm season grasses will go dormant.
  • Warm season grasses need a full season of active growth during the summer to properly prepare for a harsh winter. Any less than this, and you risk disrupting the natural peak period which gives you the best chance to establishment and growth

There is one exception to the spring warm season seeding rule: Perennial ryegrass. Homeowners can use this variety to add a bit of color to their lawn before winter. However, you’ll still need to seed this during the fall season.

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Nature Has The Best Seeds

At Nature’s Seed in Lehi, Utah, we’re committed to ensuring that you have the right planting aids to germinate and establish a full and thriving lawn.

Whether you’re working on restoring your home’s turf or you’re involved in community-based rejuvenation projects, we’ve got the expertise and implements to help you return the land to its natural state.

Contact us for a quote on your project or visit our website to use our trademark Seed Selector feature for your property.

FAQs

The Best Grass Seed for Pennsylvania | Nature's Seed? ›

"The Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass will predominate in the sunny areas and the fine fescues do well in the shade," he says. Another good choice for a sunny lawn is tall fescue, a drought-tolerant, low-maintenance species. "Buy a good quality, 'turf type' tall fescue from a reputable dealer," he says.

What is the fastest growing grass seed in Pennsylvania? ›

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass is a fast-growing turfgrass that peaks during the cooler months. Use perennial ryegrass if you'd like to thicken your lawn, or want to fill in dead patches.

What is the best month to plant grass seed in Pennsylvania? ›

In Pennsylvania, early fall is the best time to sow grass seeds for a number of reasons. Seeding in the fall allows cool-season grasses to establish before winter. Try to sow two months before the first frost of the season.

What is Pennsylvania grass seed? ›

Pennington Smart Seed Pennsylvania Mix consists of a premium mix of Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass and Fine Fescues that are specifically designed to flourish in this climate.

What grass zone is Pennsylvania? ›

Pennsylvania planting zones are mostly in the 5b to 7a range, however there are small snippets of the state that are 5a and 7b, extending the range a bit.

What type of grass grows best in Pennsylvania? ›

Cool-season grasses adapted for turf use in Pennsylvania include Kentucky bluegrass, rough bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, the fine fescues, tall fescue, and the bentgrasses. Warm-season turfgrasses include species that are best adapted to southern areas of the United States.

When should I plant grass seed in spring in PA? ›

Best time to attempt spring grass seeding

The best time to seed in the spring is mid-March through early April. Like fall seeding, the soil must first be prepared. The recommended method is verticutting. A verticut slices grooves in the soil that allows for the necessary seed and soil contact for germination.

Can I plant grass in March in Pennsylvania? ›

Spring Planting for Warm Grasses

Warm-season grasses germinate when the soil reaches 65°F to 70°F in temperature. By planting in the late spring and early summer, these grasses can enjoy the warm earth and seasonal rains, which can help keep moisture during the germination and establishment processes.

How do I overseed my lawn in PA? ›

Overseeding into thin turf or small patches of bare soil can be done in late winter, spring, or early fall. Spring and early fall overseedings can be made following aeration (six to eight passes over the lawn with a core aerator), dethatching, or by using a disk-type seeder that drops seed into slits in the soil.

Is Kentucky bluegrass good for Pennsylvania? ›

Kentucky Bluegrass is one of the most adaptable grasses to grow, especially in northern Pennsylvania. Because of its high quality of turf grass, it makes a nicely textured lawn. You can fill in any damaged parts without having to re-seed.

What kind of grass seed do landscapers use? ›

Perennial ryegrass thrives all over California and is also widely used all over the U.S. It germinates and establishes quickly with lush, long-lasting color, even in full or partial sun.

Is fescue or Kentucky bluegrass better? ›

Rich, thick Kentucky bluegrass tolerates foot traffic and heavy use better than either hard or red fescue. However, coarse-bladed tall fescue is more tolerant of foot traffic than Kentucky bluegrass and can withstand the wear of people getting in and out of vehicles.

What grass seed grows the fastest? ›

What type of seeds grow the fastest? Bermuda grass is the fastest-growing warm season grass, germinating in as little as 10 days. Ryegrass, which grows in cool climates, also germinates that quickly.

Is Bermuda grass good for PA? ›

Bermuda grass is a common grass in Pennsylvania that is often considered an invasive weed. Because it can grow in poor soil and can stand up to adverse weather conditions, it is a popular lawn cover in dry, arid areas with high temperatures during the spring and summer.

What is the hardiest grass to grow? ›

The best drought-resistant grasses for warm-season climates include Bermuda, Zoysia, and St. Augustine. Bermuda grass, known for dense, dark green blades, is touted as the most drought-resistant warm-season grass.

What is the most durable grass? ›

Bermudagrass

Bermudagrass is loved for its durability — this grass type is commonly used for golf courses and sports fields. This grass type's durability comes from its deep roots and quick growth rate. Bermudagrass is a warm-season grass, so it would fare best in southern climates.

Can I just throw grass seed down on existing lawn? ›

Can you just sprinkle grass seed on top of your existing lawn? While it's possible to simply sow the new grass seed over your existing lawn, taking the time to prepare your lawn beforehand will increase the likelihood of seed germination and improve your end result.

Will grass seed grow if I just throw it on the ground? ›

Let us start with the simple question, will the seed grow if it is just thrown on the ground? The simple answer is, yes. Beyond just throwing the seed out into the lawn and not performing any grass maintenance there is a whole world of lawn care. While the seed is one of the most resilient out there.

Is March too early to plant grass seed? ›

Is March too early to plant grass seed? In nearly all regions, March is too early to plant grass seed. Temperature is a better barometer; wait until days average about 80 degrees before planting grass seed for summer. March is too late to sow cool-season grasses.

When should I overseed in PA? ›

Overseeding in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, early fall is the best time to do this. Soil temperatures in the fall are still warm, which encourages seed germination, and cooler air temperatures are better for grass growth. There are also fewer active lawn diseases in the fall, and weed growth tapers off.

When should I fertilize my lawn in PA? ›

Homeowners should fertilize lawns in mid-spring (late April or early May), late summer (around Labor Day), and late fall (around Thanksgiving). If you use late fall applications, you may be able to delay spring applications until late May.

How late can you seed grass in PA? ›

According to the Penn State Center for Turfgrass Science, those in southeastern Pennsylvania should plant between September 1 and October 15; northern tier and high-altitude counties should seed between August 10 and September 10 and all other Pennsylvania areas should seed between August 20 and October 1.

Do I need to aerate before overseeding? ›

The most important step you can take before overseeding your lawn is aerating your soil. No matter what seed you use, they can't germinate in compacted soil devoid of water, nutrients, and sufficient air exchange. That's why it's crucial to aerate your lawn before starting the overseeding process.

When Should I aerate and overseed in Pennsylvania? ›

Aeration, as a rule, should be done usually every other season, generally in fall. The weather is the main factor. Aeration is invasive to grass plants and the fall weather in Pennsylvania is optimum to help the plants to recover. When this service is done, it is also an opportune time to overseed your lawn.

How do I prepare my lawn for overseeding? ›

Mow Low. Before overseeding your thin lawn, cut your grass shorter than normal and bag the clippings. After mowing, rake the lawn to help loosen the top layer of soil and remove any dead grass and debris. This will give the grass seed easy access to the soil so it can root more easily after germinating.

What grass seed grows the fastest? ›

What type of seeds grow the fastest? Bermuda grass is the fastest-growing warm season grass, germinating in as little as 10 days. Ryegrass, which grows in cool climates, also germinates that quickly.

How long does it take for Penn State grass to grow? ›

Seed will begin to grow in 5-10 days. You can mow the seedlings when they reach 3 inches in height. Do not apply a weed control product until after at least four mowings.

Is fescue or Kentucky bluegrass better? ›

Rich, thick Kentucky bluegrass tolerates foot traffic and heavy use better than either hard or red fescue. However, coarse-bladed tall fescue is more tolerant of foot traffic than Kentucky bluegrass and can withstand the wear of people getting in and out of vehicles.

What is the best grass seed to plant in the northeast? ›

Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, and tall and fine fescues are some of the best cool-season grass options for cool, humid zones like the Northeast.

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