A man called recently to discuss renovating his lawn
from Zoysia grass to more of a traditional Pennsylvania lawn mix.
It wasn't that he hated Zoysia as much as some people do, since it
is straw brown for most of the year. He was more concerned with
the way it was invading his neighbor's lawn.
Anyway, during our conversation I was describing the steps we would
use to accomplish this sort of task. When I got to the
part where we discussed reseeding the area, he asked, "Are you
going to use Penn State Mix?" I went on to tell him what I am about
to tell you: There is no such thing as Penn State Mix!
Where did this misnomer get started anyway? I have no idea, so if
you know, please send an email and tell me. Here's the
line from Peter Landschoot, associate professor of turfgrass science
at Penn State:
"A lot of companies that sell turfgrass seed in Pennsylvania
market something called 'Penn State Mix.' Penn State has
absolutely nothing to do with these companies, the makeup of the mix
or the seed. These mixes can contain just about anything --
sometimes you'll find it's a good mix, but sometimes it's very poor
Two reasons it didn't add up
1. Most Penn State Mix contains too much
Perennial Rye, sometimes as much as 60 or 70% --
During our turf classes at Penn State in the late 1970's, we learned that if you used
more than 20% to 25% perennial ryegrass in your seed mix, the lawn
was going to end up being predominantly perennial ryegrass. This
isn't to say that perennial rye is a bad thing (as long as it is a
good variety of seed) only to point out that since it germinates and grows
so fast, that it will overpower most other varieties in a seed
mix, such as Kentucky Bluegrass. Consider the basics: Perennial rye
germinates in one week, while Kentucky Blue takes three weeks.
This IS the Penn State Nittany
Lion, but there
is NO SUCH THING as 'Penn State Mix'
2. No seed varieties developed by Penn State are on the seed
label of Penn State Mix --
You have to study a
seed label to find out what's in the mix. Labels
will tell you what type of seed, if any of the varieties are "named"
and what percentage of the seed will germinate. As I began looking
at more and more labels of grass seed labeled 'Penn State Mix' it
was soon obvious that none of the seed had been developed by Penn
Penn State has a proud tradition of
developing improved grass seed
varieties, especially bentgrass for golf courses.
How do you know if
a variety was developed by Penn State? The variety name will begin
with 'Penn' as in 'Penneagle' or 'Pennlawn' or 'Pennfine.'
In summary, it was clear that Penn State Mix was a misnomer from the
start due to these two reasons; 1) More perennial rye was used in the
mix than Penn State recommends, and 2) No Penn State varieties were used
in the seed mixes.
Let's put this
misnomer to rest, once and for all!