In the past few months I’ve received a bunch of calls and emails about a “revolutionary” (the company’s words) product – CuttingEdge grass seed. I had never heard of this stuff. I’ve been asked…”What is in it?”… “Should I buy it?”….”Is it better than what I have now?”…. “Isn’t it just grass seed?”…. and “It sounds too good to be true…Can it really be that good?”. Beyond what they found on the company website, people could find no information on it anywhere on the Internet. So I did what we do in Extension: I tried to find out what I could – especially any research-based information.
Surprisingly, I could find little on this product as well – except on the company website (www.cuttingedgegrass.com). One look and I understood why all of the questions. This stuff is incredible! It (Cutting Edge Grass Seed) not only has “unique characteristics that revolutionize the way grass seed and turf management is viewed today.”, but it is “one of the most environmentally responsible grass seed mixes sold anywhere in the world.”. Those are pretty big claims? But…wait… there is more! A lawn planted to this grass could allow you to STOP (their emphasis) “constant” (their word) watering, fertilizing and mowing. It will grow roots up to 48 inches deep. It is salt resistant, endophyte-enhanced, self-repairing, grows in sun or shade, and is resistant to gray leaf spot. It comes with an OMRI-approved “hydration and mycorrhiza” coating. You can even earn points towards LEED Certification by planting it (intriguing, though that link was dead). Wow! Amazing! I’ve got to try it!
Just as I was about to click that big red “Order Now” button that promised an extra FREE 1 pound bag (Well…free, except for more shipping and handling…) if I bought 1 pound, a thought crept into my head: what IS this stuff? I scoured the flashy (and really slow) website. All I could find was that it is a “patent-pending mix of Kentucky bluegrass and other top-performing seed.”. Hmmm…now I’m suspicious. And annoyed. Really annoyed. I hate it when a company won’t say what is in their product – especially when it’s required by law.
Instead of the “Order Now” button, I clicked “Contact” and dialed the information number. I got a live, knowledgeable, friendly person – Kristin – who answered all of my questions. (Disclaimer: I told her up front that I was gathering information for this blog) I asked what, besides Kentucky bluegrass, was in the mix (I was told perennial ryegrass, hard fescue, Chewings fescue, and tall fescue). When I asked about cultivar/variety names, Kristin said the company doesn’t reveal those. I asked if the mix contained VNS seed (stands for “variety not stated”), and was told “yes, it is VNS seed”. Ahhh...the reason they can’t tell you the cultivars – because they are not sure of what those cultivars are! To be fair, VNS is not always “bad seed”; it CAN be very good seed, in fact. But buying VNS seed is like ordering “running shoes” from Zappos and not being able to specify size, brand, style, or color. You will get running shoes, but will they fit your feet, fit your needs – will they be what you want? Kristin also kindly sent me a sample label for one of their seed lots (the seed lots will differ slightly, she told me, depending on where in the country you order your CuttingEdge seed).
The company recommends a seeding rate of 4 pounds per 1000 square feet – which is about 1.6 pounds of seed (because of the coating on the seeds…which is about 60% of the total weight). This would be a low rate for bluegrass alone, much less for the larger-seeded rye and fescues (which comprise about 80% of the seed in this mix). To end up with a turf of acceptable density using this product, it should be seeded at a rate of 12-15 pounds of the coated seed per 1000 square feet – not 4 pounds.
To seed 1000 square feet, using the company’s recommended seeding rate, it would cost about $40 (if you buy the 10 lb. professional kit; about $72 if you buy the one pound bags). To seed at a rate that would give any chance of producing good quality turf, it would cost about 3-4 times as much ($120-280….to seed 1000 square feet of turf!).
If you were to instead buy a comparable seed mix (bluegrass/fine fescues, or bluegrass/ryegrass) from a reputable local seed company like Pawnee Buttes Seed (http://www.pawneebuttesseed.com/seed-list/mixes/) and seed at a rate of 6 pounds of seed per 1000, it would cost $12-18 dollars for seed.
Though it’s possible that the VNS seed sold by CuttingEdge is of good quality, the product cost (quite high) and recommended seeding rate (quite low) make this product an unwise buy. And the idea of mixing grass species like bluegrass, ryegrass and fescues is far from “cutting edge” or revolutionary – much less a patentable one. It’s far wiser – both agronomically and economically – to purchase seed of excellent quality and known cultivars from a local, reputable seed company. You will know what you are purchasing, get the best quality seed, and won’t have buyer’s remorse later. It may not seem sexy or cutting edge, but it’s smart. CuttingEdge grass seed: another case of “If it sounds too good to be true….”