Buy the best you can afford. HD is fine for grass seed.
But beware (this is for ANY place) cheap seeds have
more weeds in them. They'll grow just as well as your
nice grass seed. Then you'll have to deal with weed and
feed to kill them. The better stuff minimalizes that problem.
It all depends what you are looking for. If you want average seed,
targeted at the mass market, what's available at HD, etc is OK. I
wouldn't worry about the age, they move stuff in volume, so it's
unlikely to be old seed.
On the other hand, if you want the best grass, you won't find it at HD.
There is a lot of info available online for evaluations over many
years and in different areas of the country, where various specific
varieties of grass have been tested and rated. The ratings are in
numerous categories, like summer color, fall color, drought tolerance,
disease tolerance, ect. You can then pick a specific seed and
generally find it online. Search for NTEP, which is the rating
It's all on the label. The label will show you the percentages of grass
seeds (by type) and weed seed. It should also have a date, or at least a
"packed for the 2006 growing season" on it.
Note that some of the cheaper mixes are 70-95% annual grass. This is fine
for filling in some patches very quickly, but it won't last more than the
season. I like to uses mixes that are closer to 50/50 annual/perennial.
The annual grasses give you quick cover, and protect the slower-growing
perennial grasses as they grow.
The above is true for upper midwestern climates -- YMMV.
I would add that you should look for varieties of grass that will grow well
in your conditions. Particularly sunny or shady and high or low traffic. A
mixture of mostly dwarf rye and some bluegrass (up to 20%) works well in the
SF bay area.
Call the sod farms to see what they sell regionally and then look for a seed
mix with similar grasses.
If you are going to all of the trouble of seeding a new lawn, or
sizeable portion of one, it might pay to get a soil test beforehand.
County extension service probably will do one for reasonable cost, as
well as recommend a seed that is right for your area and conditions.
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