Why Grass Seed Mixtures Are The Way to Go

Jon Weaver

The gardener without years of experience will do well to
consider planting a mixture of grasses rather than a solid
turf of a single species. If he knows exactly what he is
doing, and understands how to control the diseases which
might attack his particular single species of grass, the
chances are it will survive and thrive without serious

But the beginner rarely has the necessary skill and
knowledge for this, and, even when he does, he often runs
into unforeseen trouble. If conditions change¡ªsuch as an
extremely wet or dry year¡ªa solid turf of one species may
suffer severely, whereas one containing several grasses will
pull through in good shape.

Disease is a good example of the type of problem a mixture
may help avoid. The fungi which attack grasses are quite
specific in their action. That is, some will attack fescues
but not bluegrasses, while others attack bents but not
fescues. Except for rust, which is largely airborne, most of
these turf diseases are spread by contact from one blade to

If the turf is made up of more than one species, this plant-
to-plant contact is broken. I have seen one section of a
lawn, seeded wholly to Common Kentucky Bluegrass, go down by
late June when attacked by helminthosporium leaf spot, while
another part of the same lawn¡ªplanted with Chewing's Fescue
and Highland Bent in addition to the bluegrass¡ªshowed only
an occasional area affected by the leaf spot. Both areas
were maintained exactly the same.

Another advantage of mixtures is that they tend to adjust
themselves to the varying soil conditions often found within
a lawn, and also to differences in sun and shade. It is not
uncommon for the same lawn to have one area that receives
three hours of sun?shine while a short distance away it has
sun all day long.

One of the very real problems a seedsman has, for example,
is in recommending a grass to the man who doesn't know what
a sunny lawn is. I have actually studied lawns which the
owner claimed received sun "all day long" and found they had
four hours or less.

This is often true in cities, where the line of parkway
trees and the house form barriers that cut off the sun until
late in the morning and then block it again early in the

By doing just a little research, which often amounts to
asking a representative at your local nursury or home supply
store, you will find the perfect mixture of grass seed for
your needs and avoid many troublesome and time-consuming

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