So you’re wondering “how long does it take for grass seed to grow”? Perhaps you’ve been continually seeding, watering, re-seeding and watering again, and you’re not seeing any grass seed growth.
Well, I’ve been there before too, and the problem may not be anything that you are doing wrong. Sometimes, the issue is about what you’re not doing correctly, but oftentimes you just need to give your grass some time to grow.
How Long Does Grass Seed Take To Grow?
Germination Time for Grass Seed:
“The Germination Time for Grass Seed is between 5 and 30 days – Depending on the weather, and type of grass seed you’re attempting to grow”.
But don’t worry too much about the details — we’ll walk you through all that below.
There is an age-old saying that goes, “such and such is as boring as watching paint dry.” But there is something even more excruciating than that. I’m sure you have guessed by now that I’m talking about watching grass grow. At least paint dries in a few hours or so. But grass can take more than a month to grow in some cases.
And after all the hard work (and hard-earned cash) you put into making your lawn immaculate, all you want is for the grass to hurry up and be there already. My advice to you; Be patient and know that you’ve done your part!
Top 6 Tips To Grow Healthy Grass:
The germination process is the time that it takes from the moment you initially plant grass seed, to the time it takes to begin to sprout, and turn your lawn into the luscious blanket of green that we are anxious to achieve.
Several factors contribute to the time it takes for grass seed to fully grow (or fail to grow), or whether grass seed will grow on top of the soil, or do you need to til it into the soil?
1) Plant Grass Seed Correctly
While you may get “some” grass seed to germinate by throwing it on the ground, the percentage of grass seed not able to germinate, or getting eaten by birds is very high.
Sometimes referred to as “overseeding”, the process of throwing grass seed at bare patches in your lawn is usually more of a “hope and pray” effort, than a successful approach to seeding a lawn.
The Best Way to plant grass seed for any new lawn is to start with good, available topsoil. Topsoil, rich in nutrients, provides the perfect incubator for grass seed to germinate.
We recommend “tilling” new grass seed into fresh topsoil with a rake, and at a depth of 1 /2 – 2″ deep. This depth will provide protection for grass seed from birds, and the grass seed will remain moist, which is a major requirement for new grass growth. Without moist conditions and Sunlight – Grass will not grow.
2) Plant Grass Seed With “Available Sunlight”
This might be an obvious one, sure, but you can see it in yards that have large trees covering a huge portion of the grass. Shade prevents the grass from taking in the amount of sunlight needed to synthesize nutrients from the carbon dioxide and water.
That’s just science talk for it can’t grow and turn green. Even though, this is such an obvious cause for grass not growing it is still one that is often overlooked.
If your yard lawn is dominated by trees, you can try using a breed of grass that grows well in the shade. Grass such as Rye and Tall Fescues are perfect for this type of lawn growing challenge.
While you’re waiting for that grass seed to grow, you may also wonder how to keep birds off of a seeded lawn?
After all, those Pesky critters can remove your seed before it even gets started!
3) Water New Grass Seed Correctly
How often do you water grass during its growing season? Grass (as with most other plants) needs enough moisture even to be able to sprout and get an opportunity to grow.
The flip side is if there is too much moisture the seed is liable to rot, and die or not root correctly.
We recommend a watering newly planted grass seed, 2 times a week, at approximately 1″ of water total per week. You can gauge the amount of water you are supplying by setting a shallow dish in the area of watering, and aim to collect 1/2″ – twice weekly – and about 3-4 days apart.
Daily watering is not recommended by professional growers, as this steady watering encourages shallow grassroots, whereby, twice-weekly watering encourages roots to dive deeper searching for water, and encourages stronger more drought-tolerant roots.
4) Plant Grass Seed At Correct Temperature
Temperatures are a huge factor in the ability to get an immaculate lawn. Of course, it can’t be too cold. Otherwise, the ground is barren, and grass just won’t grow at all. But it can’t be too hot either.
The optimal soil temperature for grass is between 45-65 degrees. 45° to 55° is for the cooler season grass, and 55° to 65° is for grass meant for warmer seasons.
Note: We are not talking about air temperature, but only the temperature of the soil. Because the ground is cooler than the air, soil temperatures are typically cooler than the temperature in the surrounding air.
There is a reason we aerate our lawns every year. That reason is simple; plants need oxygen too – although not really for the same reason that we need it. The oxygen helps to keep the sprout strong, and able to grow.
Once you get your Grass in full gear, you’ll need a great mower to keep it healthy. These are some of the best self-propelled mowers to consider.
6) Use Starter Fertilizer
New grass seed needs a lot of nitrogen to grow. Some of this available naturally, but to give your new grass seed a boost, you should use a lawn starter fertilizer. Starter fertilizers such as this highly-rated one from Scott’s, provides the trifecta of nutrients – in the form of Nitrogen – Greener Grass, Phosphorous – Stronger roots, and Potash – disease resistance and healthier grass.
Common Mistakes When Growing Grass
Growing the perfect lawn requires dedication, and actually, most people have that dedication. For the most part, homeowners fall into other traps when tending to their new lawns. Some owners wonder if you can plant grass seed on an existing lawn. Short answer, Yes. If you choose to hand toss grass seed – or overseed- just make sure you keep the seed moist for 7-10 days.
There is a multitude of mistakes that people make when they first start trying to maintain their lawns.
From too much watering to cutting it too short, and so much more in between. But we are here to help you avoid those lawn care blunders.
1) Planting Incorrect Breed of Grass
The number one issue I have come across when helping people redeem their lawn, is they choose to purchase the incorrect breed of grass.
It is also a complete time waster and serious money pit too. Imagine spending several hundreds of dollars on seeds, soil, equipment, and hours on end of manual labor, only to find out your return on investment is ZERO.
Everybody wants that luscious, thick Bermuda Grass, but not everybody lives in the right area to have that.
When in doubt – You can go with a “Combination” Grass seed, starter fertilizer, mulch mix – Like this one from Pennington Seed
You need to select a breed of grass that grows well in your home climate. You must adapt to your grass region, not the other way around.
If you’re unsure about what type of grass seed to grow – Use this handy zone map to determine the best type of grass seed for your region.
Also, Check out “How to choose the right Grass Seed for your region” in this short video from This Old House
2) Disregard Seeding Recommendations
This was my number one problem in the beginning, so I’m sure many of you out there have this same issue. More seeding doesn’t necessarily mean more grass. So be sure to plant the right amount of grass, but not too much.
Some people mistakenly throw new grass seed onto new topsoil and fail to til the new grass seed into the soil. Tilling protects grass seed from drying out, while geminating.
Overseeding (casting grass seed onto an established lawn) is possible and fairly effective, but only if you maintain a moist established lawn, as the existing grass blades will shade new grass seed as it roots and grows.
3) Seeding At The Wrong Time
The moment you decide to purchase grass seed (and soil for that seed) you are fully motivated to get out there and make your lawn beautiful.
I don’t blame you, but if the time isn’t right for seeding, then you simply can’t start seeding.
Think of it in the context of farming. There is a season for oranges, apples, strawberries, and anything else that is grown. If you opt to plant the crop at the wrong time of year, then you come away with nothing.
But if you wait until the moment is right, then when it’s time to harvest that crop, you’ll come away with untold riches. Or at least some fruit for the spring.
Seed your lawn when it’s the right time, for much of the country that’s in the autumn months.
4) Using Weed Treatment When Seeding
This is a big fat DON’T DO when you are starting your lawn from scratch. It is understandable to want to make sure that you don’t have weeds in your yard while planting your grass.
They generally dominate the nutrients around it and keeps the grass from reaching its full potential.
While weed treatments like roundup kill weeds before they even get there, they also do one other devastating thing. They kill your grass before it even has the opportunity to sprout.
This is because weed treatments work by preventing the germination process. Sounds good right? The problem is, these chemicals can’t distinguish between grass and weeds. It just attacks everything.
The rule of thumb when planting new grass is to abstain from using weed treatments at least 12 or so weeks before seeding the yard.
However, you can use treatments meant to kill only a specific breed of weed, without seeing the negative side effects to your lawn.
5) Failure To Test the Soil
Like anything else that grows out of the ground, the conditions have to be nearly perfect for the grass to grow and reach its full potential. That means, sunlight, water, and yes, the dirt.
If your soil doesn’t match the soil needed for the grass to grow, then the grass won’t grow.
The right pH balance is the basis of a healthy lawn. Finding the right balance in the soil can make all of the difference in the world when you are trying to get your new lawn up to par.
If you have the right grass, follow the proper seeding and watering protocol, the temperature is perfect, and you still can’t seem to get your lawn to look the way you want; then you might want to have someone come to test the soil for you.
This will give you all the information you need to be able to make the necessary adjustments for getting the lawn you want.
How To Improve Germination Time
We’ve looked at the needs of your lawn, and also went through the pitfalls that many people fall victim to when starting a new lawn.
But there’s more to lawn care than what not to do. There are also some pretty effective methods to help your grass along in its quest for adulthood.
Speaking of how to improve germination time – Check out our post: How To Grow a Lawn Fast!
1) Plant Grass at the Optimal Time
The opposite of planting grass at the wrong time is doing so at the right time. If you have cool-season grass, plant it in cooler temperatures. And if you have warm-season grass – well, I’m confident you know where I’m going with this.
The best temperature for growing grass seed is 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit, with soil temperature ranging between 50-65 degrees. While this is the ideal temperature range, grass will grow in slightly colder or warmer temperatures, but the germination process will take longer and the success of grass seed growth may be less.
For most of you reading this, you’ll want to plant in the fall. This is because the cooler weather makes it easier for seeds to retain moisture. Do you know how we dehydrate more easily in the summer months? Well, so does grass.
Another plus for off-season grass seed planting is that the vast majority of weeds that grass competes with die during these cooler months. Also, it isn’t as rainy as the spring. Just because those April showers bring May flowers, doesn’t mean they bring grass along with it.
2) Use Starter Fertilizer With Grass Seed
While planting grass seed “add” starter fertilizer and create a mix (the recommended ratio of seed to fertilizer) and rake the mixture into your topsoil. Starter fertilizer provides the added “boost” of nutrients that a new lawn requires to get a jump start. Perhaps the best starter fertilizer you can buy is this one from Scott’s.
3) Provide Steady Watering
A regular daily diet of water will help keep your grass on track to sprout and become healthy. Be careful not to over saturate the lawn with water. Just keep it moist, usually about 20 minutes at or before dawn, and a couple of hours before dusk.
A light watering should suffice in cooler months. The warmer it is, the more often you should water. Also, shaded areas won’t need as much aqua as those spots taking the brunt of the heat from the sun.
3) Use Mulch or Straw to Keep Grass Seed Moist
I’m sure you’ve seen yards with straw covering the entire yard. This is done to help the new grass seeds to retain their moisture.
Putting a thin layer of straw, mulch, or even some manure (a less appealing option) over your freshly seeded landscape can go a long way to helping your grass grow faster.
Once you have your new lawn in place, you may find a few “bumpy spots” – and if you find some, just circle to this article: How To Fix a Bumpy Lawn – with Quick tips to save you some headaches later!
Grass Seed Mats – If you’re short on time, consider an All-In-One Grass Seed Mat. The same rules apply, the right temperature, rake and prep soil, but in this case – just roll the seed mat out, and water short amounts 2-3 times a day. Now you’ve got a fully protected growing environment – to keep grass seed moist and grow grass seed fully in about 5 weeks.
4) Stay Off The Grass
If you have kids or pets, then you are going to have to be a little more engaged. You may literally have to watch your grass.
Keep animals, and children off the lawn while the seeds are still growing. They’ll have plenty of time to play in the grass when it’s fully grown and healthy. While you’re waiting for the grass to grow in, check out this hands-on article I wrote titled “how to get rid of ants permanently”. It provides some great preventative ideas, as well as easy steps for on the spot – Ant treatment.
If your planting new Lawn Seed, Here’s a video with some quick tips:
Now that you’ve got that grass growing – Make sure your Mower is Running Right “How to tell if a Lawn Mower Spark Plug is bad”
Here’s an interesting fact I learned recently, a 50’ x 50 fully green lawn creates enough oxygen to sustain a family of four.
It may very well be why people living near grass lawns appear to be happier! It certainly isn’t unreasonable to believe that a green lawn, giving off ample oxygen, is a foundation for a productive life.
We know it isn’t easy to start a lawn from scratch, it takes time, patience, effort, and knowledge.
You’ve got the knowledge you need to keep your lawn fresh and flawless. Now all you need is the will (and the patience) to make it happen.
It will certainly take some practice, but after a few attempts, you’ll be winning the neighborhood lawn of the month EVERY MONTH. Remember, to provide your lawn with good Aeration at least once a year, to provide more oxygen, nutrition, and water to the roots.
At the very least, you’ll be able to walk around the yard barefoot. And that’s all we really want in a yard anyways isn’t it!
Do you have a citronella plant? Check out our article here on how to best take care of it!
References & Further Reading
- Need to Replace the Pull cord on a Lawnmower? – BestHomeGear.com
- 8 More Ways To Use Your Leaf Blower! – BestHomeGear.com
- How to Grow Grass from Seed – Pennigton.com
- What You Can Do In Your Yard – Fertilizer/Nutrient Pollution Tips – EPA.Gov
- How to Grow New Lawn From Grass Seed – MichiganStateUniversity.Edu
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