TTTF selection advice and where to buy?

HamsterHueyApril 26, 2013

Hi folks,

I've been lurking on these and other forums for a while now, researching grass seeds for my Fall overseeding project. There have been lots of useful posts here, especially many by Tiemco that have helped me a lot. I've also been mining through the NTEP data to decide on what cultivars I would like for a mix for fall overseeding.

A little background: I live in upstate NY, have a 10,000 sq ft backyard that is patchy and seems to have a mix of all sorts of grass (mainly fescues). It was hit pretty hard by drought like conditions in summer over a few weeks when we were closing on the house. As a result, the lawn was neglected by the previous owners and us for over a month and it took a toll on it. I also have a golden retriever who likes running around in the yard and occasionally digging holes or eating grass/weeds. I also do not have a sprinkler system, so I have to lug around hoses and sprinklers, and while I don't mind doing that, I would prefer not having a very finicky grass type/cultivar.

Based on all my constraints, I decided that TTTF would suite me for the slightly lower maintenance and water requirements in comparison to KBG. However, I would still like a 5-10% mix of KBG (I already read about the relative seed size between KBG and TTTF) to help heal the lawn, especially when my dog or random critters decide to dig it up. I'd prefer not having to overseed the entire lawn every season (though I'm okay with overseeding patchy areas).

So with that said, I've decided upon Bullseye and Cochise IV for my TTTF cultivars. Both are rated very highly for the northeast, have good to excellent wear tolerance, do well in sun and some shade (I have a couple of maple trees and a locust tree) and are also rated well for drought tolerance. I've also noticed that they seem to be pretty popular with folks on these forums.

For the KBG, I was thinking of getting Impact as it is rated highly for the northeast.

Ideally, I'd like something like a 50% Bullseye, 40-45% Cochise IV and 5-10% Impact. How am I doing so far?

After having done all this research, I was excited to call Ben Hogan at The Hogan Company to place an order for a 50lb bag of the mix but I was disappointed to find that Ben was not willing to make a custom blend for me and instead was suggesting I go for the Hogan blend. I can completely understand that since I am only buying 1-2 bags, there is limited incentive to make a custom blend for me. However, I've noted that other folks seem to have been able to get a custom blend from him in the past (which is why I called him in the first place). He was very helpful though, and while I'm sure his custom blend is great, I just don't feel comfortable paying $100+ for a blend where I don't even know what the cultivars are, nor whether they would be ideally suited for my constraints (northeast, high wear, sun and shade, etc).

So what are my options at this point? Super seed store seems to be daylight robbery - a 50lb bag with the custom blend above is going to cost me $365!

Is there any other store that might be willing to make a custom blend for 50-75lbs of seed for me? Or is there anyone that sells a blend matching what I am looking for?

The most economical option is buying the Prime Time TTTF blend which contains 50% Bullseye and Hemi and Magellan/Turbo, which I can purchase for $100 shipped (50lbs). I'm open to going that path if there isn't any reasonable option to purchasing a custom blend from some other vendor.

I'd really appreciate any advice regarding better or alternative blends that may suite me and also if there are any other vendors you may recommend where I might be able to get a custom blend for a reasonable price.

Sorry for this terribly long first post!

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A few thoughts. Upstate NY is somewhat of a general area. If you are near Canada TTTF might not be a great choice due to winter kill and snow mold issues. If you are closer to NYC then TTTF shouldn't be too much of an issue. 10k square feet is a fairly large area to seed without a sprinkler system. You will need a lot of hose, sprinklers, and at least one timer too keep those seeds moist for at least 10 days, probably more. Once established you will have to water if mother nature doesn't come through for you, but at least you will have the hose already. That dog will have to stay off the new grass for a while too, 8 weeks minimum.
Your TTTF choices are fine. Bullseye is one of the best, and Cochise IV does very well too, I have some in my lawn. Regarding you KBG choice, I would probably rethink it. Impact is a compact midnight. As a group compact midnights produce beautiful turf, very dark green and lush but you might have issues in your shady areas with thining and powdery mildew. Don't get me wrong, Impact is a great cultivar that scores very well, but if it was me I'd probably use Bewitched. Something to think about.

Hogan carries some of the best TTTF, but the owner, Bob I think, can be somewhat of a crank, and of course he wants to sell his mix. Next time you call you have two options: Ask for Stephen, he's much easier to work will and generally will do whatever you ask for. If that doesn't work then order 25 lbs. of Bullseye, and 25 lbs. of Cochise IV. If he offers to mix it, then great, if not, then do it yourself. Then order your KBG separately, i.e. not mixed. When you seed, seed the KBG by itself, and the TTTF by itself. You will get more even coverage since the KBG won't settle in a mix with TTTF. Whatever KBG you end up using, if Hogan doesn't have it, then go somewhere else (Williams Lawn Seed is one of the best, and they sell small amounts). Also that prime time blend is good, but only if it's Bullseye, Hemi and Turbo. Magellan is a wide bladed cultivar that is a poor performer. If you decide to use it, make sure it has the seeds you want. Renovating or overseeding is a big investment in time, money, and resources. You only get one shot a year, so don't compromise by using seeds you were talked into. Spend a little extra if you have to, and sod quality is always worth it. If you can't get the TTTF's you want, there are several others that perform about as well as, so don't sweat it too much.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 8:48PM
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Hi tiemco, Thanks so much for your detailed response! I really appreciate it. I thought I was more specific about my location, but apparently I forgot to mention it. I live near Albany, NY, so considerably north of NYC and slightly north (and to the east) of Ithaca, NY (Cornell University). I thought that tttf and KBG were still recommended for these regions. Is that incorrect? I'd be happy to hear from you with regards to the best suited type of grass for my location. I'm not particularly picky though I do like the fine textured grasses the best.

Thanks for the suggestions/warning about what I'd need to do to ensure success with the overseeding. I do have two, hundred feet hoses and a bunch of impact sprinklers that I can move about. Over summer I'll try to figure out how much hassle it is to keep my entire lawn watered. If it is too much, I might overseed part of my lawn this year and do the rest next year.

Thanks for pointing out some potential drawbacks of Impact as my choice for KBG. To be honest, I didn't get around to doing much research on KBG as I had been focusing on the TTTF choices. Bewitched certainly looks good and I'll probably try to use it in my custom mix. Also as you noted (and Bob Hogan mentioned to me on the phone), I'll obtain the KBG separate from the TTTF (if I get TTTF) so that I get a uniform distribution of the 2 types of seed in my lawn.

I appreciate the advice on dealing with Bob Hogan. I don't know if he's being pickier this season because of the anticipated seed shortage this year, so perhaps he feels that he doesn't have to put in the effort for custom blends for homeowners this year. I do agree that it isn't worth getting talked into getting seeds that I don't want, and that is my issue with Bob as it stands. I'm sure his blend is great, but it is a generic blend with no guarantee that it is tailored for my region or my specific requirements (high wear). I might try again with him. If not, I could get the Prime Time blend. I do agree about Magellan...I think this lot actually has Bullseye, Hemi and FireBird but I am going to confirm with the seller.

I guess the big question at this point is whether I should go with a 90%KBG with some fescue for shady regions or a 90%TTTF with 10% KBG, or something else? Thanks a ton for all your help!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 3:02AM
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Yes, TTTF and or KBG is fine for the Albany area. The newest TTTF is fine bladed in a dense stand. If it's thin, TTTF blades tends to thicken up a bit. KBG blades don't vary according to stand thickness. Bewitched has great shade tolerance for KBG. If your shady areas get 4-5 hours of direct sun a day, it will support Bewitched. If you get less, then I would use TTTF in those areas. If you want to go all KBG, then there are other cultivars that you can use with Bewitched that exihibit shade tolerance, and have different genetics, which is a good thing. Maintaining TTTF and KBG is about the same. There isn't too much difference in water requirements, fertilizer, or mowing. Mature TTTF can be a bit more drought tolerant, but KBG can go dormant for longer, while TTTF dormancy is shorter and you can lose a lot of grass if it goes too long. TTTF's spreading is glacial, while KBG can fill in voids in short order. I think most people would agree KBG lawns are the best looking. They do take a bit more time to establish in the beginning, but I think it's worth it.

I think Bob just wants his customers to have the best grass for their lawns. Also I'm sure he's had his share of non pros call him complaining that his seed was defective, when in reality it isn't the seeds, it's the person who planted them.

Splitting up the lawn is a great idea, many people renovate/overseed in stages that are easier to handle, plus your dog can stay on the unseeded area while the new grass establishes.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 8:57AM
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Thanks a lot for your reply tiemco. I think I'll probably go with a tttf since some parts of my lawn might not get enough direct sunlight for KBG.

I had a question about applying starter ferrtilizer after overseeding...should I apply it before, immediately after or a couple of weeks after overseeding? I've seen people mention all 3 approaches and I'm not quite sure what would be best.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 1:46AM
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