CO-Horts

CO-Horts

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Grassology

Posted by: Tony Koski, Extension Turf Specialist


I guess I don't watch enough late night TV? Or maybe I have to pay more attention to the commercials? I had never heard of Grassology...until I received this email from Penni A. a few days ago.

Greetings Dr. Koski,

I was wondering if CSU has written anything on the product called Grassology? I’m embarrassed to say “As Seen on TV” but it does sound so good I thought I would ask the experts at my alma mater CSU.  I ruined my grass by purchasing years ago what they called drought grass.  Now I battle weeds and aggressive clover type plants regularly.
  I don’t want to waste your time but if you could direct me to information on a better grass for Denver I would appreciate it.

Sincerely,
Penni A

Coincidentally,  that very afternoon I was in a Bed, Bath and Beyond (I still have yet to find the "Beyond" section of BB&B), where a display of - you guessed it - Grassology was located just inside the front door. I didn't even have to do a Google search. There it was...with Bob Vila's smiling face staring at me. That just about sold me. I mean, if Bob endorses it, it must be good? But my Extension senses returned to me...and healthy skepticism took over. Grassology: the Science of Grass. Breakthrough. Patent pending. As seen on TV. I can hear Bob's friendly, convincing voice now.... "no more high water bills...or weekly mowing... or ongoing fertilizing...or constant weeding." Only $19.99. For 3 pounds. So worth it! I can see the attraction Penni. But being a super smart CSU alum, you wanted to know more. And now so did I. If you go to the Grassology website you find little real product information - like what kind of grass it is!? Ahh, but you can listen as Bob V. makes those irresistible, sound-too-good-to-be-true claims.

While the website provides little useful information about Grassology, the seed label on the bag (required by law) is much more revealing. Grassology is a mix of fine fescues, tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass - with a few weed seeds thrown in. In many ways, this is a horrible product. First, this mixture of grass species will grow into a patchwork of different textures and colors. Second, this is all "Variety not stated" (VNS) seed. There are no variety names listed for any of the species - a dead give-away that this is a low-quality product that no reputable seed company would sell to anyone (except to people who either don't read the seed label... or who don't understand what "VNS" means - which is most everyone who is not a professional turf manager). Third, the amount of Weed Seed (0.05%) is a large amount of weed seed for a turf product; with a little effort, the homeowner can find good quality turf seed that is 0.00% weed seed. Finally, the cost of this product borders on the outrageous. Three pounds of seed for $19.99 - which works out to $6.66 per pound (a devilishly scary number!). And even more: this is coated seed (to theoretically aid in germination), so there is really only a little more than 1 1/2 pounds of seed in the bag! Readers of this blog in Colorado can purchase premium quality seed (named varieties - the same stuff that sod producers and golf course superintendents buy) from a number of Colorado seed companies - and at a much lower cost per pound than this stuff. 

There is nothing revolutionary or new in Grassology. The grasses in this mix have been around for years and are used in lawns today. The smart CSU alumnus she is, Penni was wise to question this product's claims. And so should any of you thinking about purchasing Grassology. I know that Bob Vila sounds so smooth and convincing, but if it sounds to good to be true... 

3 comments:

  1. Shoot! It's too good to be true!? Does that mean the knives on TV don't cut through aluminum cans, your tomatoes and a loaf of bread without dulling?

    Seriously though, thanks Tony, for dispelling another myth for us. It's unfortunate that these products exist, but it keeps us Extension folk busy.

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  2. I saw this product advertised on TV, and wondered what the grass seed species could be...now I know! Even on TV the grass looked 'patchy' and I wondered why anyone would want a lawn like that. Makes me sad ol' Bob Vila would advertise seed that will cost the homeowner more (weed removal and most likely lawn renovation) as time goes on. Thanks, Tony.

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  3. grassology is full of weeds and patchy a rip off

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