GCI Premium Turf Type vs. Jonathan Green Black Beauty Original
Will be referred to:
- GCI TTTF
- Jonathan Green BB
To have it be a more apples-to-apples comparison, this review is comparing Jonathan Green Black Beauty Original (BB) grass seed versus GCI Premium Turf Type blend (TTTF). Jonathan Green’s Black Beauty is a blend of 3 tall fescues which contains about half Dakota Tall Fescue, and the rest an even split of Taos Tall Fescue, and Tombstone Tall Fescue. Up until this fall of 2018, Jonathan Green BB is the only grass seed that I have used to overseed in the past three (3) years.
Black Beauty Ultra is 3 tall fescues, perennial rye and kentucky bluegrass. I’ve used this product in the past, but have never used more than a 3 lbs. bag at a time to spot seed.
So to be clear again, I am not comparing the Black Beauty Ultra to the GCI TTTF – but the Black Beauty Original.
As previously mentioned, from 2015-2017 I strictly used Jonathan Green BB. This September, I decided to try GCI TTTF grass seed instead. I love Pete’s videos and knew he would put out a premium product. And to help patronize his business felt pretty good, too.
September 8, 2018 I began the overseeding process. It consisted of using the Brinell tow-behind dethatcher and core aerator, along with lowering my lawn mower settings a notch below normal (around 2.5″).
After cutting the grass and prepping the soil, full doses of Milorganite, Jonathan Green Starter Fertilizer, and Pennington Fast-Acting Lime were also applied on September 8th, 2018 – alongwith the ~6 lbs./1,000 GCI TTTF.
Since then I have put down two full applications of Jonathan Green Winter Survival (10-0-20). A previous soil test in the spring showed that my soil was potassium (K) deficient, so checking out how the GCI TTTF recovers in the spring is something I’m excited to see!
GCI TTTF price vs. Jonathan Green BB price:
Depending on where you buy your Jonathan Green BB, it can range drastically. Your best bet is first checking their website for a retail location near you as the cost is sure to be much cheaper than Amazon. Google Express has some better deals, which I used for this comparison.
The GCI TTTF, as far as I know, is only available online at the Lawn & Pest Control Company. After adding a 50 lbs. bag to my cart and waiting a day or so, I was emailed a $5 off coupon. Here’s the price comparisons below:
GCI TTTF: $115 ($2.30 per pound)
Jonathan Green BB: $80 plus 20% off your first order ($3.20 per pound (link to product))
Be sure to read the “coverage” section as I outline the respective products’ recommended dosages, how big the bags are, the coverage, and break down the price again.
On the GCI website they recommend 20% to 50% existing cover – 5 to 7 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. I have about 16,000 total square feet and bought two bags (100 lbs.) which ended up being 6 lbs./1,000 sq. ft. of overseeding.
Jonathan Green says their 50 lbs. bag covers up to 15,000 sq. ft. However, this equals just over 3 lbs./1,000 sq. ft. which would only get you less than what GCI TTTF recommends (50% to 75% existing cover – 4 to 7 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft.). In order to get the same coverage of 6lbs./ 1,000 sq. ft., you’re also going to have to go with 100 lbs. (based on my lawn size)
One thing I can’t really take into account here – out of fairness – is the overall thickness of the lawn. While I used the Brinell tow-behind dethatcher and core aerator (double pass, creating plenty of nooks and crannies for the seeds to nestle into) we got hit with a massive rainstorm three days after throwing down the seed down. Some of the seeds got washed away, and I now have nice thick green grasses growing between my brick walkway, sidewalk, and even driveway crevasses! Having said that, I am very pleased with the coverage and overall thickness that grew in this fall. I suspect it would have been thicker without the washout, nonetheless very pleased.
Right off the bat, my GCI Turf seed is not nearly as deep, dark green as Jonathan Green BB. Time will tell, and I will update with some Spring 2019 pics, but so far the nod goes to Jonathan Green BB. As previously mentioned, I used lime, Milo, and Jonathan Green starter fert in full doses. Prior to this year I only used Jonathan Green Winter Fertilizer when overseeding in the fall. Could this be the variable? I don’t think so. Milo + starter fert nets much better ‘pound on the ground’ – especially Nitrogen – so I have to go with BB for now. Again, next Spring the deep dark green could make a comeback like Ali, but not two months now post germination.
These two go hand-in-hand in my opinion. Jonathan Green Black Beauty has a more noticeable waxy coating on their seeds. This help retain moisture when watering. Having said that, I was more diligent with watering GCI Turf this fall than in years past. With no irrigation system in place, I’m forced to use and move two impact sprinklers and timers across several different “zones”. My flagship grass section, like most, is the 2,200 sq. ft. that covers my front lawn. The backyard is mainly for the kids and dogs, but in front of my house is where I focus on domination.
GCI TTTF took around 14 days for germination to begin, while I saw Jonathan Green BB start to germinate by the Day 10 mark. However, this is all based on my experience. September in Massachusetts still has warm soil temperatures (ideal for seeding) while the days are consistently under 80 degrees, and nights above 40 degrees.
In the end, a couple of days here-and-there was no big deal for me. Again, we had torrential rainstorms that played a part in all of this, too.
In conclusion, based on my experiences so far, the nod goes to Jonathan Green BB. After two months, the biggest difference for me has been the dark green color. I’ll run another soil test in the spring and apply the same fertilizer program as I ran this year – with terrific results! – and will update again.
However, if you’re looking for a great cool season grass without breaking the bank, GCI TTTF is an incredible option. For under $250 I was able to put down a heavy dose of premium grass seed across 16K sq. ft. And for that reason I’ll probably give GCI TTTF another shot next season. I’m convinced based on others experiences and results with GCI TTTF that the deep green will come around for me, too – it’s just a matter of time.