Never Buy Cheap Turf Seed . . . or Cheap House Paint

by Ron Hall, Editor-in-Chief
7/15/2013

Don't be cheap, especially when buying turf seed and even more so when purchasing house paint. Resist the urge to try to save a few bucks. You'll regret the false economy; believe me you will.

Value always trumps price, although we sometimes don't think in those terms when we're looking at our checkbooks.

I speak from personal experience, having, during my dumber moments, bought both bargain house paint and modestly priced grass seed. Buying less-than-the-best house paint has been a more painful experience than having to reseed my lawn. By far. As the lawn in our back yard is small, thanks to my wife Vicky's love of flower gardening, I don't see the task as particularly onerous. I can mow my small lawn with an old-fashioned Scotts push mower in 15 minutes tops. Actually, I look forward to a mild, cool Saturday morning early this fall to start and finish the turf renovation. It shouldn't take longer than that.

Considering the labor and lost time, what's a few bucks?

Painting our 90-year-old house is a nastier job by far. In fact, I've been spending this summer's odd hours climbing ladders and scraping and painting the south side of our two-story, wood frame home. It's a job I don't like doing, and I don't intend to ever do again. Within a couple of years of painting that side our house just four years ago I realized that I wouldn't have had to do it again so soon if I had a used a much better paint. I'll never make that mistake again.

This time around I researched (including participating in online painting forums) the best possible exterior paint for my house. I decided from the beginning that the price of the paint was not an issue. I wanted the best because, as I mentioned previously, I don't intend to be climbing ladders and scraping again. Ever.

My investigations (and recommendations from several professional house painters) convinced me that Sherwin Williams paint, specifically its newest brand, Emerald at about $70 a gallon, was probably my best choice. I can buy house paint at $30, $40 or $50 a gallon, depending upon brand. But what's an extra $50 -$60 in paint costs (about what I would save by going with a lesser brand) compared to not having to scrap and paint again in four short years?

There's good stuff and not-so-good stuff.

Similarly, I will be buying the best possible blend or mixture of turf seed when I renovate and reseed my backyard late this summer or early this fall. What's a couple of dollars a pound extra for improved seed, compared to ending up with an off-color, unattractive lawn? The price of improved, high-quality seed is negligible compared with the expense, labor and time of another lawn renovation.

This, of course, leads to the question of what are the best choices in terms of turf seed for lawns?  A good place to start your research is on the turf program website of the nearest land grant university. Also, check out the results of the turfgrass test sites closest to your region. That information is free and available on the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program's website (www.ntep.org).

And, obviously, if you're buying turf seed for your customers' lawns give them the best seed available for their particular property and needs. Any customer worthy of being your customer will  appreciate that the difference in quality between the best stuff and the average stuff (the so-called "contractor's mix") is well worth the few extra dollars.

While we're on the subject of lawn renovations, you may be interested in a recent post on the Michigan State University Landscape & Turf Extension News. Kevin Frank, Aaron Hathaway and Thomas Nikolai offer compelling information in their "Tips for seeding your lawn during summer" post. Read it here.