How long grass seed takes to germinate depends on the type of grass, the planting method and the climate. Germination generally takes 5 – 10 days but with certain grass species it can take as long as 30 days.
Growing grass from seeds is a longer process than when using plugs or sods. However, it does give you more control over the type of lawn you want to grow since you can mix the seeds.
Although it takes more time, it also feels more rewarding. Plus, grass is one of the easiest plants to grow making it a great first try at landscaping.
Read on to learn more about grass seed germination and what you can do to speed up the process.
5 Factors Affecting Grass Seed Germination
1. Type Of Grass
Every type of grass has its own germination rate. This can be especially confusing when you are buying a bag of mixed seeds.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do the research on how fast grass seeds germinate. Grass seed packet that you buy at the store include a label with how long it takes for them to germinate.
Like any other plants, grass species have their own preferred climate. Some grow better in humid conditions while others are better suited for cool and dry climates.
Your local gardening store should know which grass species do best in your area. Also ask when it is the best time to sow the seeds. Certain species need to be planted early spring for the best chance at germination while others are tough enough for planting closer to the fall season.
3. Soil Moisture Level
How wet or dry the soil is greatly impact how long it takes for grass seeds to germinate. The soil should be moist since both too wet or too dry soil reduces the chances of germination.
Overwatering your lawn creates puddles which prevents germination or causes the seeds to wash away. Seeds can’t grow in soil that is too dry either, the seeds will die.
4. Soil Nutrients & pH Level
This is another factor that depends on the specific grass species. Check the label of the grass seeds packet to find out what the ideal soil conditions are for that specific species.
You may need to do some prep work such as adding mulch or fertilizer to the lawn for the necessary nutrients. You may also have to adjust the soil pH, most grass types prefer a pH level between 6 – 7.
5. Grass Seed Age
Older seeds have a lower chance of germinating because they have dried out. So, when shopping for grass seeds check the date on the packet. Choose the younger seeds for better chances of germination. Grass seed expires after around 3 years if stored properly.
Common Mistakes with Planting Grass Seeds
Wondering why your grass seeds did not germinate? If you are still learning how to best plant grass seeds for your lawn, avoid making these common mistakes.
Starting Too Early or Too Late in the Season
Grass species are not created equal – some are more resilient to cooler temperatures while others need warmer soil. Check when the best sowing time is for the grass seeds that you have or you might risk them either drying up in the warmth or dying in the cold.
Overdoing It with the Seeds
In your excitement to get a pretty lush lawn, you might be spreading more seed than is necessary. Don’t go beyond the recommended seeding rate on the packet because this actually deprives the seeds from the necessary nutrients and sunlight.
Mistakes with Fertilizers and Weed Killers
Sowing your grass seeds too soon after using a weed killer might also kill off the seeds. So, check your soil quality and wait the appropriate time.
Similarly, certain fertilizers can change the soil nutrient level and pH level. Match the soil quality to the ideal conditions of the grass before sowing.
The Fastest and Slowest Growing Grass Seeds Types
Want to fill in bare spots as soon as possible? These are some of the fastest germinating grass species.
- Annual/perennial rye grass: 5 – 10 days
- Tall/red/hard Fescues: 7 – 14 days
- Seashore paspalum: 7 – 14 days
Are you willing to wait for the most beautiful lawn? These grass species are among the slowest to germinate.
- Zoysia grass: 14 – 21 days
- Kentucky bluegrass: 14 – 30 days
- Buffalo grass: 14 – 30 days
Frequently Asked Questions:
How Often Do You Water New Grass Seeds?
It is very important to keep the top layer of soil moist before the seeds germinate. Water your lawn every day, or even twice a day in warmer climates. However, remember that you want to avoid any puddles so a light sprinkling should be enough.
After germination you don’t need to water the lawn as often. 1 – 2 times a week is enough once the grass has started growing.
Will Grass Seed Germinate On Top of Soil?
Grass is one of the most resilient plant types. That is why people say that grass still grows when you just throw it on the ground. There is a nuance to this saying, though.
Although the grass seeds may sprout, the chance of germination is much smaller when they are simply lying on top of the soil. So, if you want the best chance of germination and nice full lawn, take the time to properly sow the seeds.
How Do I Speed Up Grass Seed Germination?
You can help speed up grass seed germination by creating ideal conditions for the grass to grow. The most important factors to consider are the soil moisture, soil nutrients and pH level, the best time of year for sowing and good weather conditions.
Make sure that you prep the soil for the specific grass type you want to grow. Then, wait for the most appropriate weather for sowing, usually warmer days with little wind. While you are waiting for germination, make sure the soil stays moist.