The Best Grass Seed for Clay Soil

When choosing the best grass seed for a clay soil lawn you will want to consider many factors including your growing zone and soil composition. This guide will walk you through all you need to know to choose the best seed for your lawn.

Growing Grass in Clay Soil: What you need to know

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When looking to grow grass in clay soil, or any type of soil, it’s always best to get a soil test to determine  what fertilizer rates and amendments your soil needs to give you the best lawn on the block. 

Soil tests are easy to perform and can usually be sent to your local university extension office.  If you’re not close to a local office that performs soil tests we recommend Soil Savvy which will help make this process simple and easy.

The Best Grass Seed for Clay Soil

When deciding what grass seed works best for clay soil you first need to determine if your area is best suited for warm or cool season grasses. 

If you are located in the blue cool season area of the map it will be best to choose grasses like turf type tall fescue, kentucky bluegrass, or perennial rye grass.  

If you are located in the lower orange zone and have clay soil we recommend bermuda grass for its heat tolerance, durability and less picky nature.

If you are in the middle of the cool and warm season zones you are situated in the green transition zone.  In the transition zone you are able to either grow cool season grasses or warm season grasses.  For clay soil in the transition zone we recommend turf type tall fescue or bermudagrass.

Once you have determined your growing zone you can reference our top picks for grass seed that will grow in clay soil.

Barenbrug Turf Blue Pro Kentucky Bluegrass Grass Seed

Best overall cool season grass for clay soil

Barenbrug Turf Blue Pro Kentucky Bluegrass Grass Seed with Yellow Jacket Seed Coating - Drought Tolerant Seed for Use on Golf Courses, Sports Fields, Parks, Lawns, and Yards (25 LB Bag)
  • DISEASE RESISTANT KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS BLEND: Ideal for jobs from landscaping to golf and sports turf settings. Resistant to dollar spot, summer patch, stem rust, and more. PROFESSIONAL TURF PRODUCT: This product uses the exact seed varieties and standards of quality set forth by our high-end customers including golf course superintendents, sports field managers, landscapers, and more.

This is a beautiful Kentucky Bluegrass offering from Barenbrug.  If you are looking to have the best lawn on the block look no further than this deep green, drought tolerant grass.

Pros

  • Tolerates clay soil well
  • Drought tolerant
  • Good disease resistance
  • Fast spring green-up
  • Self repairing
  • Can be mowed from 1-3 inches in height

Cons

  • Moderate to slow establishment

Jacklin Seed – Heisman Mix 

Best grass seed for fast establishment in clay soil in for cool season lawns

Jacklin Seed - 80/20 Blend - 80% Kentucky Bluegrass, 20% Perennial Ryegrass | Certified Grass Seed (15 lbs (6,000 sq ft))
  • KEY FEATURES: Grass seed mix contains 80% Kentucky Bluegrass and 20% Perennial Ryegrass. Kentucky Bluegrass is great for wear tolerance, vigorous recuperative ability, and broad-based disease resistance while maintaining high summer density. Perennial Ryegrass provides rapid germination, wear resistance, recuperative ability, as well as winter hardiness and transition zone adaption.

Great cool season grass seed for fast establishment in clay soils.  This seed will give you great color and repairability with its Kentucky bluegrass base as well as fast coverage with its perennial ryegrass mix.

Pros

  • Contains elite grasses providing great color
  • Disease resistance
  • Fast establishment
  • Self repairing
  • Tolerates clay soil

Cons

  • May not be suitable if you border the transition zone

Lesco Transition Pro Grass Seed

Best grass seed for clay soil in the transition zone

If you are bordering the transition zone or deep in it this turf type tall fescue seed from Lesco will establish fast and give you great year round color with good drought tolerance.

Pros

  • Very fast establishment
  • Dark green color
  • Good disease resistance
  • Great for transition zone and cool season zone
  • Tolerates clay soil

Cons

  • None

LaPrima Bermuda Grass Seed

Best seed for clay soil in the warm season zone

The perfect blend of two Bermuda varieties.  This Bermuda has medium sized blades and looks great in lawns. LaPrima has good cold tolerance and will give you longer lasting green into the fall.

Pros

  • Drought tolerant
  • Great performance in the Transition Zone
  • Looks great with minimal to moderate maintenance
  • Certified seed with no weeds present
  • Optimal mowing height from 1 to 1 ½ inches but can be mowed lower
  • Tolerates clay soil

Cons

  • None

Scotts Turf Builder Bermudagrass Seed

This is Scotts all-in-one fertilizer coated Bermuda seed. Specifically designed for drought resistance, full sun and high traffic areas. Also great for new lawns and for overseeding common bermuda areas that have been warm.

Pros

  • Fast germination
  • Drought tolerant
  • Finer leaf blade compared to common Bermuda
  • Coated seed to help retain moisture during seeding
  • Optimal mowing height from 1½ to 2 inches
  • Tolerates clay soil

Cons

  • Contains a small amount of weed seeds

How do you seed grass in clay soil?

As with any seedbed it is important that the top layer of soil is not dry or compacted when planting seed.  Before seeding keep the ground moist and lightly rake or drag the top layer. 

Most grass seed does best when it is planted about ⅛ to ¼ inch below the top layer of soil.  To achieve this you can lightly rake in the seed after it is planted.  This will also allow for better seed to soil contact which is imperative for good germination. 

If your clay soil dries quickly it is best to put a light layer of peat moss over the yard which will help with moisture retention so your seedlings won’t dry out.

Will seeds grow in red clay soil?

Yes, you can grow seeds in red clay soil.  Just keep in mind the planting tips that we share here.

Does clover grow well in clay soil?

Adding clover to your lawn or growing it as a low maintenance lawn alternative is an option if your clay soil does not shed water too quickly and the top layer can stay moist between waterings or rainfall.

What is the best fertilizer for clay soil?

If you are looking for a fertilizer that will benefit your clay soil you are looking for something beyond the normal big box bag.  Fertilizers with amendments such as humic acid, biochar and other organic nutrients will add important elements to enrich your clay soil and improve its plant growing characteristics. 

Our two favorite homeowner offerings include:

A great free fertilizer for your lawn is your grass clippings.  It is a great practice to ditch the bag and mulch which will give your lawn added nitrogen.  Returned clippings will also breakdown and add some organic matter to improve your clay soil.

How do you aerate hard clay soil?

There are few different methods to aerate your lawn and soil. 

Aeration is great to combat compaction as well as provide airflow and circulation to your soil.  When performing aeration you can rent a core aerator machine from a local tool rental center or big box hardware store.  Rentals are usually less than $100 a day and make quick work for larger lawn.

If you have a small lawn, less than 2,000 sq ft, we like the this aeration toolFor fast aeration using one of these mechanical methods works best.

There are also liquid aeration products that work really well if used consistently.  This method will cost more initially but in the long run these products will aerate your lawn while also providing organic materials to your soil which will ultimately change the profile of your compacted soil. 

These aeration products will help your lawn accept waterings better with less runoff.  Many of these products contain humic acids and or sea kelp which is magic for soil microbe activity.  We recommend this liquid soil aerator.

Can you lay sod over clay soil?

You can lay sod on clay soil.  One of the benefits of sod is that it will have a small layer of soil in the rootzone that will add organic matter to your soil.  It is best to have your site prepped and moist before you lay your side.  This will give your sod the best opportunity to hold to its new surface faster with minimal stress.  Just remember to water, water, water that new grass

Thanks for checking out our top picks for the best grass seed if you have clay soil in your yard.

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