Where's the Grass Seed?

Every fall there is a bit of blarney in the seed business. Some folks are now adding fillers and coatings to their grass seed and selling it as magic. Why some seed bags are now only half full with grass seed, the rest is labeled as “inert” matter. Often the half full bag commands the highest price on the shelf. The plastic jugs are now stacking up on the end caps at big box stores. Four-pound plastic jugs are being sold with an only one-quarter pound of seed inside. My Uncle says in the old days folks would pour water into the whiskey jug and label it “Jack Daniels.” Back in the hills of Tennessee you would get shot. Today the scallywag gets rich. Kansas Sen. John James Ingalls wrote that, “Grass is the forgiveness of nature – her constant benediction." He probably didn't like water in his whiskey, either.

Grass Seed 101
Here are some simple rules to follow when buying grass seed. First, read the label. Every grass seed bag has an analysis label. It is usually on the back of the bag in super fine print. Read it. The label or tag will list what seed varieties are in the mix, and will show the inert matter, and weed and crop content. Avoid ugly weeds and grasses like annual rye, orchard grass, and coarse bladed K-31. Read the analysis label and only pay for the real grass seed.

Small amounts of “inert” matter naturally occur in any grass seed bag. Inert matter includes seed hulls, stems and dust that are the natural residue of the seed cleaning process. Careful seed farmers strive to produce grass seed that is free of weed and crop with as little “inert” matter as possible. A master seed cleaner can clean and bag grass seed with less than two percent inert matter. “Inert” matter is what he throws away. The grass seed is what he keeps.

Grass Seed 102
Second, do the math. Bring your pocket calculator and always calculate the one pound price when buying seed. Modern packaging makes the true weight and cost of grass seed a bit of a math quiz. It's like buying a carton of eggs. You don't know if the price is right until you know how many eggs you get. Other bogeys include inflated “recommended coverage” and “new discoveries” advertised on the internet.

At the Grass Pad we think Mother Nature put the magic in the grass seed. Every fall a green blanket of grass plants reseeds the surface of planet earth. It is the grass life cycle that controls erosion, cleans the air, purifies the ground water, and cools the surface of the planet. It is the soft green blanket that snuggles your toes, your children, and your pets. It heals the earth, reduces CO/2 emissions and is fun to play on. How much more magic do you want?

Because we think there is green environmental magic in every green grass plant, we recommend more seed not less. We put fifty pounds of grass seed in a fifty-pound bag and suggest you use it all. Fall overseeding provides genetic diversity and youthful vigor to grass habitat on the plains of Kansas and the lawns of Kansas City. Mother Nature takes care of one; the Grass Pad takes care of the other.