Seed Reading

For most of us, the label on a bag of grass seed might as well be written in a foreign language. Here's how to decipher what every label has to include as required by law.

Grass type: The label must list the percentage of every type of seed included. Named varieties (e.g., 'Glade' perennial ryegrass) are superior to unnamed generic grasses (e.g., perennial ryegrass). The words "Variety not stated" usually indicate poor quality. Make sure the germination rate exceeds 80 percent.

Other crop seed: Refers to pasture grasses, such as timothy, which are not normally used as turf. Ideally there should be none, but 1 to 2 percent is acceptable.

Inert matter: Includes chaff, dirt, and any other nonseed material. It should not exceed 2 percent of the content.

Weed Seed: It's virtually impossible to eliminate all weed seed from a mix, but more than 1/2 percent is too much.

Noxious weeds: States maintain lists of especially troublesome local weeds. The percentage should be zero. Test date: The germination should have been tested for the current year.

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