The grasses grown as lawns are called "turf grass," and they belong to the class of plants known as graminoids. They are usually herbaceous with narrow leaves growing from the plant's base. This class of plants also includes bamboo, cereal plants and wild grasses. They are the dominant plant in many habitats, including steppes, salt marsh, reed swamp and grassland. Home-use turf grass seed comes in many "blends" and "mixtures."
Mixtures vs. Blends
Most packaged grass seed is sold as a blend or mixture. A mixture contains more than one type of grass and a blend contains only one type but a number of varieties. A combination of grasses ensures a broad range of genetic characteristics to produce good home turf grass. Grass blend packages list the various varieties and their percentages by weight. The mixtures are designed to be used in shady or sunny areas. The package often identifies them as "Shady Blend" or "Sunny Mixture."
Bluegrass is a popular grass blend that produces a lush beautiful lawn. A blend may contain bluegrass varieties known as "Abbey," "Baron" and "Nassau." Blends create an overall uniform look to the turf because it's all one kind of grass. They are not as genetically strong and disease resistant and therefore require more specialized gardening attention.
Grass seed mixtures often contain perennial rye and bluegrass, which gives the lawn green growth all year-round. Mixtures are a balanced mixture of types of grass. Percentage by weight is listed on the package. Mixtures have genetic diversification that makes it more disease resistant and easier to care for. A packaged seed mixture uses many types of seeds, depending on type of lawn it is created for.
Types of Grass Blends
Ryegrass is popular on athletic fields because it's strong. It needs a lot of water and does not tolerate shade well. Fescue tolerates shade and is also good for playing fields or backyards. Bluegrass is good in cool areas and is prized for its rich coloring. Buffalo grass is drought tolerant, making it a good choice for xeriscape gardening. Bermuda grass is heat and drought tolerant and strong but also very invasive to flower beds.
Grass Seed for Home Use
First determine whether you need a grass that is sun or shade loving, and then think about your water needs. Many areas have water restrictions that make lawn cultivation a problem--choose a drought tolerant variety if this is your situation. Lawn traffic is the next consideration. If the lawn is a children's play area, you will do best with mixtures created for "tough" use. Read the mixture seed packages well and ask your nursery personnel for advice.