msa1.GIF (10334 bytes)

9709 53rd. Avenue College Park, Maryland 20740
Phone (301) 345-1242 FAX (301) 572-5034

Bill Patton, Sr. Chris Nickas
Turf Center Lawns, Inc. R.J. Sunday Landscaping, Inc.
President Vice President
Heidi Fischer Mike OHare
Robert Childs Landscaping, Inc. Princess Garden Landscaping
Secretary/Treasurer Immediate Past President

Venus Elliott Rick Slayton Jim Claxton
Kalen Corporation Norwood Turf, Inc. Newsom Seed, Inc.
Director Director Associate Director
Joe Knott Doug Lechlider Jon Straughn
Harford Hydroseeding, Inc. Laytonsville Landscaping, Inc. Lofts Seed, Inc.
Director Director Associate Director

Vernon Cooper
Md. Dept. Ag. Turf & Seed
Affiliate Director
John Krouse
U.M. Dept. Natural Resource Sciences
Executive Director


MSA Guideline Specifications 1999 (MSA-GS-99) was produced in good faith for the use of its members, who receive it at no cost as a benefit of their membership, and as a public service of the Maryland Seeding Association (MSA). Every possible attention to detail and accuracy was employed in its production up to the time of printing. However, neither the MSA, nor the editor or members of the committee which produced it shall be liable for any errors, omissions, or inaccuracies which it may contain, nor for any damages or injuries or losses of use or profit or materials which may result or be imputed to result from its use as a reference or guide. MSA-GS-99 is not a legal document and does not replace any specifications of the State of Maryland or its agencies, nor of any jurisdiction where other specifications are mandated or appropriate. MSA-GS-99 supersedes previously published MSA Guideline Specifications. MSA-GS-99 is the copyright property of MSA, and may not be reproduced or republished without permission. MSA grants its members the right to reproduce and distribute any or all of its contents, provided that MSA-GS-99, in whole or in part, is not offered for sale or included in any publication offered for sale.

Maryland Seeding Association Presents

MSA Guideline Specifications 1999

Maryland Seeding Association (MSA) produced its first seeding industry guidebook, Guideline Specifications for Soil Preparation/Seeding, in 1989. In response to the many advances in turfgrass science since that time, as well as demands for a more comprehensive guide, MSA thoroughly revised and added several new sections to the original work, and produced MSA Guideline Specifications 96. The current edition, MSA Guideline Specifications 1999, includes wet meadow seeding and dry meadow seeding for the first time, and is the fourth annual revision of this reference.

MSA Guideline Specifications 1999 (MSA-GS-99) includes detailed specifications for turfgrass seeding, temporary seeding, erosion control seeding, meadow seeding, and highway seeding. Like its predecessors, MSA-GS-99 is intended to assist contractors, architects, designers, and others who write specifications for seeding jobs. The Maryland Seeding Association suggests that the specifications included in MSA-GS-99 be accepted as models for seeding in Maryland and adjacent regions.


MSA Guideline Specifications 1999 was developed by seeding contractors, university researchers, and state regulatory personnel. The MSA believes that if these specifications are used as guidelines by professionals in the seeding industry, our environment will be enhanced and seeding failures will become even more rare.

Soil erosion, siltation, and nutrient pollution are major threats to the ecological balance of every stream that leads to the Chesapeake Bay. Although soil disturbances are an inevitable part of the growth of our society, soil erosion and its consequences are not. Where permanent vegetation is established rapidly, the threats posed by soil erosion and nutrient pollution can be minimized. And, perhaps just as importantly, the establishment of attractive and functional landscape plantings may further enhance the quality of life in our society. We feel that MSA-GS-99 will help to achieve all of these results.

It is important to remember that there are no short cuts to excellence. Only the highest quality of materials and workmanship produce excellent results. MSA urges you to become familiar with the range of materials and services that are available before work is begun, and to request copies of seed tags and other material verification as work is completed. Whether you are specifying or bidding work, insist upon excellence for every job... and insist upon MSA Guideline Specifications 1999.


The Maryland Seeding Association gratefully acknowledges the current and former members of the specifications book committee, and the assistance of many others who generously gave their time and expertise in the production of MSA-GS-99, and especially:

John Krouse
Nancy Adamson Milton Johnson Bill Patton, Sr.
Mark Carroll, Ph.D. John Lanigan Jim Patton, Sr.
Frank Coale, Ph.D. J. Kevin Mathias, Ph.D. Patricia Steinhilber, Ph.D.
Jim Claxton Norman Melvin, Ph.D Becky Sunday
Vernon Cooper Gwen Meyer, M.S. Tracy Turley
Tammy Crowder Anthony Nash, M.S. Thomas Turner, Ph.D.
Lisa Curtis, M.S. Strick Newsom
Peter Dernoeden, Ph.D. Mike OHare


The Problem

Turfgrass can be difficult to grow in Maryland. In this area the native vegetation is predominantly woodland trees and shrubs. Under natural conditions, grassy areas and meadows usually only become established when the trees and shrubs are destroyed, such as after a forest fire. Although grasses and other herbaceous plants are usually the first plants to become established when the forest canopy is removed, the forest quickly returns. Over a period of 5 to 50 years, the grass and herbaceous plants are typically invaded and completely overgrown by trees and shrubs, which then remain the dominant vegetation until the next major environmental disturbance.

The goal of the turfgrass manager is to establish a stand of turfgrass, and then to stop the natural ecological succession at that point. Once turfgrass is successfully established, then other concerns such as improving turfgrass density, color, wear resistance, etc., can be addressed. In order to successfully establish grass, however, the turfgrass manager must employ a variety of techniques, as well as a keen awareness of turfgrass ecology. Every aspect of the turfgrass environment must be optimized. Subsoil may require modifications to improve its structure and drainage. Topsoil may need to be added. Nutrient levels and soil acidity (pH) may need to be corrected. And most importantly, the proper species of turfgrass must be selected and seeded. Total control of the turfgrass environment is extremely complex and difficult to achieve, but attention to the many separate but interconnected steps is the key to stopping the natural ecological succession at a point where turfgrass is environmentally most competitive and, from an esthetic standpoint, most attractive and functional.

The Solution

Location is the first factor which must be considered when selecting among turfgrass species, cultivars, and seed mixtures. The State of Maryland is composed of three distinct geographical regions, each with its own combination of vegetation, climate, and soil conditions: The Coastal Plain, the Piedmont, and the Western Mountains.

The Coastal Plain makes up most of southern Maryland and the eastern shore, where the topography is typically flat or gently rolling, and the soils are often sandy or gravelly. In the Coastal Plain region, the winters are usually milder than the rest of Maryland, and long periods of snow cover are rare. The Piedmont region of central and northern Maryland is gently to steeply rolling with soils that are typically clayey and sometimes rocky. The Piedmont region has cold winter weather, and sometimes long periods of snow cover. The Western Mountain region of Maryland is hilly to sharply mountainous with soils that are often shallow and rocky. The Western Mountain region has very cold winter weather, long periods of snow cover, and relatively cool summers. Depending upon location, the turf manager can expect quite different topographical conditions, climatic patterns, soil conditions, and pest problems. MSA-GS-99 takes into account the environmental differences that occur across Maryland which influence the selection of turfgrass species and cultivars, as well as the methods and seasons of seeding.

Purpose is the second factor which must be considered when selecting among turfgrass species and cultivars. Turfgrass seedings can serve many functions, depending upon the use and the level of maintenance which the turfgrass is expected to receive. MSA-GS-99 outlines different seed mixtures and seeding techniques for different purposes: general turfgrass areas, rough turfgrass areas, temporary groundcover areas, erosion control areas, meadow areas, and highway seeding areas.

Timing is a third factor for consideration. The environment can be very demanding of turfgrass seedlings, and major modifications to the turfgrass environment can rarely be made without giving special consideration to timing. Grasses must be seeded at certain times of the year to obtain satisfactory results. Although modifications to seed mixes and seeding methods can often be made to accommodate construction schedules, grasses are living things, and only so much can be expected from them. MSA-GS-99 provides proven methods and timeframes for prompt and reliable groundcover establishment.

New developments must always be considered, just as with any other science. Advances in turfgrass breeding, pest control methods, soil preparation and seeding equipment, seed mulch materials, and many other factors can dramatically improve the ability of the turfgrass manager to modify the turfgrass environment and achieve goals that were not previously possible. Of course, progress also tends to make specifications obsolete, and MSA Guideline Specifications 1999 has been significantly revised and updated since the first MSA Guideline Specifications appeared in 1989. Maryland Seeding Association has established close contacts with The University of Maryland Department of Agronomy, The Maryland Department of Agriculture Turf and Seed Section, Virginia Tech, as well as The National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) in an effort to keep abreast of changes that affect the seeding industry.

In situations where the specifications of MSA-GS-99 do not answer specific questions or do not seem appropriate, the user is encouraged to contact Maryland Seeding Association at (301) 345-1242, or the University of Maryland Dept. of Agronomy at (301) 405-1336, or the Maryland Dept. of Agriculture Turf and Seed Section at (410) 841-5960.