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Seed Blends, Bad Mixes

People in search of the perfect lawn are often lulled by promises of super seed blends.

"Be cautious of blends," said Ronny Duncan, a turf scientist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in Griffin, Ga.

"Some blends are marketed as 'the grass for the South,'" he said. "But they actually have cool-season grass seeds in them like annual ryegrass that have no chance to survive more than one season in the South."

If you're buying grass seed, read the label carefully. If you aren't sure what grows best in your area, contact your county Extension Service agent or the turf scientists at the UGA Griffin campus.

"Some grasses found in blends, like fine fescue, grow well in shady areas, but you don't normally want to plant them over a whole lawn," Duncan said.

Another grass often offered as good for Southern growers is zoysia.

"Homeowners also need to check with their Extension Service or turf specialist before investing in this grass," Duncan said. "Some cultivars on the market are some of the biggest water users. You might as well put a water hose on the end of the root."

If you live in an area that faces yearly restrictions on outside watering, planting the right zoysia cultivar is a good investment.

"We've done research here on the drought tolerance of different zoysia cultivars," Duncan said. "We're able to offer advice on which ones are best."

"As further research is completed, people will get blends and cultivars they are happier with," Duncan said. "But most of the ones available now just don't hold up well. So ask the right questions before you invest your money."

(Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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