Grass seed grows best in yards with sun and moist, rich soil. Not all lawns provide such a growing environment, however. In these circumstances, some grass species perform better than others. You must also take local weather into account when choosing grass seed.
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Grass seed falls into one of two categories: cool-season or warm-season varieties. Warm-season grass performs best in the southern United States, while cool-season grass grows best in the northern states.
Bahia grass is a warm-season grass that grows well in poor, sandy soil, according to Polk County Master Gardeners. Consider carpet grass for wet, acidic soil. Zoysia also performs well in sandy or gravel-type soil, but spreads slowly. Try cool-season varieties such as rough blue grass in moist, shady areas and chewings fescue for sandy, acidic soil. Hard fescue tolerates drought well.
Adding organic amendments, aerating and frequent mowing and fertilizing improve poor soil conditions. Purchase a home soil testing kit, or take a soil sample to your local county extension agency for testing. Use the results to amend your soil before sodding or seeding your lawn, for best results.