When late summer begins to set in and we all start thinking about the transition into early fall, your cool-season lawn is ready for aeration and overseeding. But, before you sprinkle that first handful of grass seed, it is important to know that seed quality matters.
Grass Seed Costs and Shortages
In the United States, there are actually very few growers. This means that most of the new seed purchased annually is coming from many of the same locations. In 2021, in areas like Oregon, where much of the country’s seed is produced, there have been severe drought conditions and extreme heat temperatures that have greatly impacted the growing season. This means that seed production is down.
There have also been a range of cost increases coming out of 2020. Seed growers have also seen a rise in costs related to transportation, labor shortages, and more – the same cost increases that have been reverberating across the U.S. post-pandemic (or perhaps mid-pandemic). These cost increases are then passed on to the buyers, who have to then pass a portion of the increases onto the homeowners they service.
The other thing to keep in mind is that big box stores and large national lawn care chains have annual agreements in place with growers and buy up a huge portion of the available seed. This combined with rough growing seasons and increased costs mean that seed shortages will be prevalent this year, particularly among lawn care businesses that have not ordered their seed ahead of time.
Quantity vs. Quality
Often when the seed is purchased in huge quantities or there are shortages of seed available, the quality of seed purchased becomes a concern. When overseeding your lawn, the quality of the seed used makes a big difference. Green Group companies purchase only high-quality “blue tag” seed that is guaranteed to be at least 100% weed-free. While 98 or 99% weed-free might not sound all that bad, it is important to consider that there are around 220,000 fescue seeds in 1 pound of seed. That means a 50-pound bag has roughly 11 million seeds in it. If just one percent of that bag is weed seed, you would be introducing around 110,000 weed seeds per bag. That’s a lot of weeds!
We watch the seed market closely and knew that distribution would be an issue this year. That’s why we placed our seed orders early – assuring that the lawn care companies in our Green Group family of brands would all be delivering only the best seed quality to customers.
If you are planning on aerating and seeding your lawn this year, be sure to ask your provider about their seed quality before you hire them for seeding service. After all, if you are investing time and money into weed control and lawn care programs, or doing the work yourself, the last thing you want to do is seed your lawn with a bunch of weeds.
Other Tips For Lawn Aeration and Overseeding
Fall lawn aeration and seeding are best for cool-season grasses like Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass. Warm-season grasses such as Zoysia or Bermuda should be aerated during the summer and do not require overseeding because their grass roots develop through a system of rhizomes and stolons.
We recommend core aerators as opposed to basic spikes because they actually remove small plugs of soil from the lawn, allowing more air and water to circulate. This helps promote seed germination and deeper root development. A core aerator is a machine with tines that remove soil cores and alleviate soil compaction.
Make sure that you follow proper mowing and watering instructions after any seeding service so that you can help your new grass thrive.