Are you struggling to get your lawn to its full potential? Continually seeding, watering, and re-seeding and watering again, only to wonder how long does grass seed take to grow, or what does it take to produce healthy grass anyway?
I’ve been there before too, and I’m here to tell you that the problem may not be anything that you are doing wrong. Sometimes, the problem is more about what you’re Not doing. Sometimes, you’ve just got to give your grass some time to grow. While you’re waiting for that grass seed to grow, you may also wonder How to keep birds off of a seeded lawn.
But how long does it take for grass seed to germinate? The simple answer is: The germination process for grass can take anywhere from 5 to 30 days, depending on the weather, and the type of grass you are attempting to grow.
But don’t worry too much about the details — we’ll walk you through 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!
The Germination Process
The germination process is the time that it takes from the moment you initially plant the grass seeds to the time it takes in enough moisture to begin to sprout and turn your lawn into the luscious blanket of green that we are all so desperate to achieve.
But there are several factors that 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?
Germination factors needed for your grass to grow:
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.
The 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 you yard lawn that is dominated by trees, you need to get a breed of grass that grows well in the shade.
Grasses like Rye and Tall Fescues are perfect for these types of lawns.
There is a reason deserts are giant swaths of sand and rocks rather than lively grasslands filled with gorgeous meadows and Bambis (if that’s, in fact, the plural for Bambi) prancing around. It’s because it doesn’t rain there.
How often do you water grass? 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.
Again, keeping it from being able to punch through the seed and fill your lawn with its glorious green beauty.
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 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.
Common Mistakes People Make
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 lawn.
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.
Doing this is a giant source of frustration for many. But not only is it frustrating.
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.
It’s no wonder so many people decide to leave their lawn care to someone else.
Everybody wants that luscious, thick Bermuda Grass, but not everybody lives in the right area to have that.
You’ve got to get a breed of grass that grows well in your home climate. You must adapt to your grass, not the other way around.
Not sure How to choose the right Grass Seed for your region? Check out this short video from This Old House!
2) Disregarding 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.
3) Seeding When the Time is Wrong
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) Weed Treatments While 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) Not Testing 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 Help 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.
1) Plant the Grass at the Optimal Time
The exact opposite of plant 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.
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.
Plus the vast majority of weeds that grass has to compete 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) Steady Watering
A steady 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.
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.
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.
4) Strict “Keep Off” Rules
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.
If your planting new Lawn Seed, Here’s a video with some Quick tips:
Wrap – Up
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 to 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.
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!