The Best Grass Seed for Oregon
The most common mistake you can make when planting seeds in Oregon, whether flowers, grass, or veggies, is to plant too early. Many individuals who count themselves as green thumbs will take a few sunny days in late winter to early spring as a sign that the ground is ready for planting.
However, if you plant seeds too early in Oregon, they will struggle for the rest of the season. The ground is not warm enough, and the weather conditions will kill your seeds' germination efforts. In other words, they're going to be stressed for the rest of the season and could even develop fungus and rot.
Furthermore, the various elevations in Oregon, its coastal regions, continental air influences, humidity, and sloped and hilly terrain, create a broad range of conditions that dictate what to plant and when. You also need to think about warm-season versus cool-season seeds.
A combination of these factors is enough to confuse even the most enthusiastic of growers, so let's set the record straight on planting in Oregon.
The Natural Growing Conditions in Oregon
To help your seeds thrive in Oregon, first take a look at where you're living. For example, various cities in Oregon, such as Salem, Portland, or Ontario, for example, fall in different zones within the state.
"Zones" are designated areas in Oregon, based on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones map. Ratings within each zone tell you if a seed or plant will survive winter, given the area's winter conditions. It also then indicates which seeds you should plant and when based on the plant's hardiness and survivability.
There are several zones mapped to the geography of Oregon, including zones 5a, 6a and 6b, 7a and 7b, and zones 8a through 9b.
Take advantage of this map to carefully find your city, and even your county, because microclimates dominate in Oregon. Microclimates are notable and specific changes in temperatures and on-the-ground-weather based on changes in geographical terrain.
For example, Portland generally falls in the USDA hardiness zone of 8b. The average low temperatures in this zone fall between 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. However, Portland's inner areas fall under a hardiness rating of 9a, which is much warmer.
Your property's or land's elevation, shade, and soil also contribute to the microclimates in your garden, so make sure to consider this. Gardeners living on the “floor” of the Willamette Valley, for example, will find it difficult to grow certain plant species that would thrive at the top of Council Crest, which sits at 1,000 feet of elevation.
When is the Best Time to Plant Native Seeds in Oregon?
Timing is everything when it comes to supporting thriving plants in Oregon. You have several options open to you, from directly seeding within the ground, to transplanting seedlings into the garden. Even if you're sowing seeds and keeping plants indoors, timing still plays a significant role.
Some seeds and plants will do well if you overwinter (i.e., sowing seeds in the fall, allowing them to rest in the ground during winter, and then supporting their germination come the spring) them. Other seed types require extra planning from you. For example, you may need to cover these crops for early establishment and to extend their harvest season into the cooler months
Four Fantastic Grass Seed Types to Plant in Oregon
The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map also affects the types of grass seeds you will plant in Oregon. Mountainous regions cover the interior of the state while the coastal areas are a tad warmer during the winter months.
In general, cool-season grasses work best for Oregon. You can certainly use blends in warmer regions, or even use them to complement your property’s mix of sunny and shaded areas. However, plan to focus on these four types of cool-season grasses.
Bluegrass is a great option because there are so many different varieties, known as cultivars. These varieties are specifically designed for commercial or domestic use, so you can take your pick. Kentucky Bluegrass is the most popular choice for homeowners, thanks to its beautiful, lush color and disease resistance.
Besides this, you can also plant Canada Bluegrass, which is perfect for areas that experience extremely cold temperatures during the winter, with poor soils. Rough Bluegrass is a hearty option for individuals who don’t like to spend time maintaining their lawns.
And Supina Bluegrass works well if you have a property with up to 90% shade or one that you know will experience high foot traffic because of children or pets.
2) Fine Fescue
Fine Fescue is another option that works well for Oregon lawns. This type of grass seed displays a high shade tolerance, and it’s easy to maintain, with occasional irrigation required. Keep the height at two inches and mix in about 30% of perennial ryegrass for even faster establishment.
Unlike Bluegrass, Ryegrass comes in only two varieties: perennial and annual. Annual ryegrass is best for stabilizing soils. If you’re a homeowner, choose the perennial cultivar. This variety eliminates the need to re-seed as grass seeds will germinate year after year.
However, homeowners still find the need to use overseeding to patch up any dry or bare areas. It’s also an excellent turf seed to use if you have an issue with crabgrass creeping into your lawn every year. As an added bonus, perennial ryegrass also holds its shape and health against high foot traffic. However, for all its durability, it is vulnerable to droughts and isn’t built for extreme cold.
Bentgrass happens to be one of those grass types already well-established in the Oregon soil seed bank. In fact, many homeowners who plant perennial ryegrass or fine fescues find that, eventually, bentgrass or velvet grass takes over.
It’s durable and bright green, which is perfect for the traditional lawn. It also handles heavy mowing well, so you will undoubtedly find bentgrass covering your local putting greens. However, it does need plenty of moisture to survive. Make sure you live in an area with substantial rainfall or be prepared to irrigate frequently.
At Nature’s Seed, we’re committed to delivering the highest quality of seeds, and the best strategies to help your plantings thrive through every season. Our selections of seeds are designed for very specific projects and purposes in mind.
You can choose seeds based on regions and mixes, or decide to plant specific varieties such as pasture, wildflower, and lawn seeds, based on your goals. Protect and support your plantings with sustainable and smart planting aids, and you’ve got the recipe for seeding success. Visit us at Nature’s Seed online to learn more about your region’s plant and seed needs today.