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Turfgrass Establishment Series – Species/Cultivar Selection

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing and Seeding the Perfect Turfgrass for Your Ohio Lawn

By Maranda Berger

A thick, vibrant lawn brings pride to any homeowner, and selecting the right turfgrass species is the key to success. Here we'll walk you through the process of choosing the ideal turfgrass, understanding seed labels, and calculating seeding rates to transform your lawn.

When it comes to Ohio lawns, four primary turfgrass species are commonly used: Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, fine fescues, and perennial ryegrass. Each species has its strengths and considerations.

Kentucky bluegrass: Known for its lush, dense appearance and cold tolerance.

Tall fescue: Strong species, drought resistance, and has the ability to grow in various soil types.

Fine fescues: Thrives in shaded areas and requires little maintenance.

Perennial ryegrass: Establishes quickly, making it ideal for overseeding and temporary cover.

Selecting the Perfect Turfgrass Cultivar

Choosing the right cultivar is essential to ensure your lawn's success. Refer to the OSU Extension's comprehensive guide ( to identify the most suitable cultivar for your chosen turfgrass species.

Optimal Seeding Rates

Achieving a healthy lawn starts with the correct seeding rates. Here's a breakdown of recommended seeding rates for each turfgrass species:


Seeding rate

(lbs/1000 square feet)

Kentucky bluegrass 2-3
Tall fescue 8-10
Fine fescues 3-6
Perennial ryegrass 7-8


Seed Labels

Seed label
  1. Grass seed product name.
  2. Pure grass seed. The percentage by weight of grass seed that is in the bag.
  3. Other crop seed. The percentage by weight other than the pure grass species or varieties labeled, but not considered as weed seeds. If "other crop seed" is over 5% of total weight, they must be listed by name.
  4. Weed seed. The percentage by weight of weed seeds in this lot.
  5. Inert matter. The percentage by weight of material that will not grow.
  6. Noxious weeds. If the product contains seeds that are considered noxious weeds as defined by your state these would be listed on the tag.
  7. Address. The address of the company providing the grass seed.
  8. Origin. State in which the grass seed was grown.
  9. Lot number. Each lot of grass seed is uniquely numbered. This number appears on all documents so that it can be traced back to its origin.
  10. Test date. Actual month and year this lot of grass seed was tested for germination.
  11. Germination. The percentage of pure grass seed that will germinate in a controlled lab.

Seed Mix vs. Blend

Seed Mix: Contains different grass species in varying percentages. Offers biodiversity and adaptability.

Seed Blend: Combination of different grass species without specific percentages. Provides a balance of traits from each species.

Calculating Pure Live Seed (PLS) and Determining Seeding Rate

Pure Live Seed (PLS) accounts for seed purity and germination rate, ensuring you sow the right number of viable seeds.

Calculate PLS: PLS (%) = Purity (%) × Germination (%)

Determine Seeding Rate: Seeding Rate (lbs) = Desired Plant Density (lbs) / PLS (%)

Final Thoughts

Selecting and seeding the perfect turfgrass for your Ohio lawn is a great opportunity that contributes to your home's curb appeal and outdoor enjoyment. By considering factors like turfgrass species, cultivars, seeding rates, seed labels, and the distinction between mix and blend, you can be on your way to cultivating a vibrant, resilient lawn that thrives in Ohio's climate.

Maranda Berger is a Graduate Research Associate and M.S. Student in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science at The Ohio State University.