Pennington Smart Seed Dense Shade Mix

Pros, Cons and a Review

Shady yard
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I needed a specialized grass seed for my small, very shady backyard and I just happened to see a 3-pound bag of Pennington Smart Seed Dense Shade Mix at my local big box store.

The price was reasonable and if the claims on the label were true, I couldn't lose. Pennington Smart Seed is inoculated with mycorrhizae, which are fungi that form a relationship with the grass roots and work together to improve nutrient and water uptake, enhance drought resistance, and promote root growth.


  • Excellent germination results
  • Improved seed varieties that thrive in the shade
  • Inoculated with mycorrhizae


  • Costs about $13 for a 3lb bag, a little pricey compared to other seed


  • Mix of improved varieties of fine bladed, lower maintenance fescues.
  • Seed mix changes for different regions of the country, providing a grass seed specifically formulated for each climatic zone
  • Contain Pennington’s exclusive MYCO Advantage technology
  • Contains Pennington’s exclusive Penkote technology

From  "You'll soon see the Smart Seed difference! All Smart Seed is pure-bred, drought-tolerant and guaranteed to grow the thick and healthy grass you want while using up to 30% less water year after year versus ordinary grass seed. Smart Seed with MYCO Advantage replenishes beneficial micro-organisms which help grass grow deep, dense roots - the way nature intended. Pennington's Penkote seed technology ensures better plant growth by protecting the seeds."


I have a very shady backyard that had previously been nothing but dirt and weeds, so I needed a specific mix, predominantly fescues, specialized for deep shade. With some reluctance and low expectations, I bought a 3-pound bag of Pennington Smart Seed Dense Shade Mix grass seed from my local big box store.

My backyard is so shady I didn't think anything would grow back there anyway but I thought I'd give it a shot.

Pennington Smart Seed mixes come tailored to suit your specific region. I live in New England (Zone 6) and my Dense Shade mix contained 34 percent "Seven Seas" Chewings fescue; 34 percent "Camilla" Red fescue; 19.5 percent "Shining Star" Perennial ryegrass; and 9.6 percent "Brooklawn" Kentucky Bluegrass. These are well-rated varieties of their species, chosen for their shade tolerance, not generic filler seed found in low-quality mixes.

In addition to the mycorrhizae inoculation, Pennington Smart Seed is treated with its own Penkote technology. Penkoted seed has been treated with a liquid seed coating containing a fungicide, a natural insecticide, and a growth stimulant. The greenish color of the seed is a result of the Penkote which also has the added benefit of making the seedless desirable to birds.

I had great conditions with plenty of moist rainy weather complemented with warm sunny days. I also used a starter fertilizer containing the pre-emergent herbicide Tupersan (Siduron). A week after planting, seedlings were sprouting everywhere. A couple of weeks later, it got mowed for the first time.

The 3-pound bag is labeled to cover up to 750 square feet. I went a little heavy, using the whole bag for a lawn of about 500 square feet. The results speak for themselves: I now have a brand new lawn with only a few bare patches to repair and some light overseeding to make it complete. With minimal upkeep, this lawn will be lush, mature, and amazing by fall.