If you’re planning a landscaping project, then knowing when grass seed germinates is essential.
It can help you plan the project accordingly.
For homeowners, you might want to know when you can expect your grass to start growing to prepare your lawnmower.
Like all plants, grass follows a particular schedule for its germination.
Here’s what you need to know about grass and germination.
When Does Grass Seed Germinate?
Most grass seed will germinate in 10 to 21 days.
However, some types of grass seed can take as long as 30 days.
There are a few factors that impact when grass seeds start to sprout and grow.
One of the biggest factors is the type of seed planted.
Although it may seem like there’s one type of grass, there are actually several different types.
The type in your area depends on your local climate.
For example, if you live in the Northeast or Midwest, then you’re subject to chilly winters.
The type of grass that lives there is able to survive during the winter.
They’re called cool-season grass seeds.
Some examples include:
- Kentucky bluegrass
Because each is a different type of seed, they also have different germinating lengths.
The shortest length of time is ryegrass.
This type of seed germinates between five days and a week.
The longest is Kentucky bluegrass.
This type of seed germinates between two weeks and a month.
Because germinating also depends on the weather, you can expect seeds to start germinating in the spring.
In particular, they start to grow anywhere from late April to mid-May.
What Is Germination?
Germination refers to the process of sprouting from a seed or spore.
It usually occurs after the seed has spent some time in dormancy.
Sprouting of the seed begins when it receives enough water.
For example, during the spring, this occurs when the snow melts and feeds the soil below it with water.
A few other variables, like temperature, also factor into whether the seed starts to sprout or not.
Once sprouting occurs, the plant produces cells that form organelles.
Eventually, it sprouts from the ground and forms adult grass.
What Factors Determine Grass Seed Germination?
Several factors determine when grass seed germinates.
Here are some of those factors.
1. Type Of Grass Seed
The type of grass seed is one of the biggest factors that influence germination time.
Some of the cool-season grasses are already discussed above, but there are also warm-season grasses.
These act differently from cool-season grasses because they have a different dormancy rate.
Since warm-season grasses rarely encounter freezing temperatures, their dormancy may have to do with the amount of water they receive.
Like cool-season grasses, the type of seed has a specific type of weather that kicks off its germination.
Some also rely on a type of erosion to remove the outer shell of a seed.
Only once the shell is gone is the seed able to germinate.
This type of shedding may only occur during a specific part of the season.
For example, a seed may need a lot of exposure to water for it to wear away the seed’s shell.
As such, it may not sprout until the wet season has passed.
Depending on the type of grass seed, it will impact the time in which it germinates.
Another big factor in germination is the weather.
Because seeds require certain conditions to start sprouting, even the slightest shift in the weather can impede their germination process.
One of the aspects of weather that can slow germination is cool temperatures.
If the winter season extends longer than it normally does, then a seed may not germinate until later.
Another aspect that can slow germination, or even end it entirely, is heavy rain.
Certain seeds that aren’t made for heavy-water conditions can have their germination ended if they’re overwatered.
That’s because the water erodes the shell of the seed, but then also erodes the seed itself.
The seed no longer has what it needs to initiate its sprouting.
That’s why flooding and rising water levels are of great concern to most areas.
Not only is it a danger to humans, but it also means any plant growth in the area may cease for several years if not forever.
3. Soil Conditions
Not a lot of homeowners monitor the pH level of their soil.
However, the pH level could be impacting how well or how poorly their grass grows.
For cool-season grasses, they prefer pH conditions of 6 to just above 7.
If the seed encounters a pH level outside of those conditions, then it might still germinate.
However, the germination process may be slower.
It might also result in grass that’s not as healthy.
If the pH is too extreme, then the seed may fail to germinate at all.
This is likely because the pH conditions have caused the shell of the seed to erode too much or not erode at all.
If it’s eroded too much, then the interior of the seed could have received damage, too.
In this case, the seed may be unable to form the organelles it needs to sprout and grow.
If it isn’t eroded enough, then the seed can’t break out of its shell to grow.
Watering can help make the soil more neutral since water is neutral.
However, if you find yourself needing something more acidic or basic, you can find several soil pH kits online to help you.
If you have a problem with pests in your yards, then you may also notice that it takes longer for your grass to germinate.
Pests like birds, bugs, and other seed-eaters can impact the germination process.
Birds can eat seeds, which will remove them from the soil entirely.
While it’s unlikely that a bird will eat all of your grass seeds, it can create a few missing patches.
Bugs are the biggest danger to your grass seeds.
They can eat the seed while it’s in the soil or the first sprout.
If your yard becomes covered with pests, then it can impact the quality and appearance of your yard.
Even larger animals like dogs can impact a seed’s germination.
If you have a smaller yard, then your dog only has so many areas to remove waste from its body.
The problem with dog waste is that it’s full of bacteria and other germs.
It can impact your soil’s pH, which can then impact the ability of your grass to grow.
Removing dog waste from your yard is the best solution to keep the pH level of your soil consistent.
How To Prepare Your Lawn For New Grass Seed
If you want to plant new grass seeds, then there are several steps you need to take before you even begin the planting process.
Here are the steps you should follow to successfully plan out and prepare your yard for new grass seed.
1. Check Soil pH Level
The first step you should take before planting your new grass seed is to check the soil’s pH level.
If the pH is too low or high, then all your planting will be in vain.
Nothing will grow.
You can get a soil pH tester for relatively cheap both online and at hardware stores or garden stores.
If the soil isn’t in ideal conditions for the type of grass that you want to plant, then you can change the pH with fertilizer, water, and some other ingredients.
Take a few tests around the yard to ensure that the soil’s pH is the same throughout.
If there are any areas outside of the ideal pH range, mark them off.
You can either treat those areas or turn them into another part of your garden or landscape.
2. Skip Weed Preventer
A common mistake that new landscapers or amateur landscapers make is applying weed prevention after planting new grass seed.
This will kill the grass seed.
After planting the new grass seed, you need to mow it four times before you can apply a weed preventer.
That counts for liquid and granular weed protection.
You should also refrain from using feed fertilizer on the grass.
Let the grass grow normally, then mow it four times over the season.
After the fourth time you’ve mowed it, the grass has been able to displace enough grass seed on its own and grow its roots deep to remain safe.
3. Determine The Best Seed Type
Depending on where you live, certain types of grasses will flourish in your yard.
Like other plants, grass seed has evolved to survive in certain conditions and climates.
If grass seed is in an area that isn’t ideal for its germination, then it won’t sprout.
If it does sprout, then it won’t last long or it won’t be healthy.
You can do a bit of research to determine what type of grass you should be looking to plant.
Generally speaking, those who live from Washington State to Maine should plant cool-season grasses.
That area goes down to northern California and just through Ohio and Indiana.
Anyone below that area but above southern Texas should plant transitional grasses.
Transitional grasses grow best in the middle part of the country.
That includes from the west coast to the east coast.
Finally, those who live in the deep south, including southern Texas, should grow warm-season grasses.
Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and all of Florida are some examples of states that should plant warm-season grasses.
Alaska is another state that should plant cool-season grasses while Hawaii should plant warm-season grasses.
By planting the right type of grass seed, you can ensure that your climate can encourage the growth of the grass.
4. Plant Grass Type In Correct Months
Each grass type has a specific month or range of months that is the best time to sow them.
For warm-season grasses like the Bahia, Centipede, Bermuda, and St. Augustine, you should look to sow from March to September.
Cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass, Fine Fescue, Tall Fescue, and Ryegrass are best sown from August to October.
Transitional grass means that those in the area can have their pick between cool-season grasses or warm-season grasses.
They can even pick both.
In most cases, cool-season grasses tend to have the best results in transitional grass areas.
As such, you should also look to plant them from August to October.
By sowing them during those specific months, you can ensure that the grass rests dormant for the appropriate time before growing strong and ready during its germination period.
5. Mow Correctly
After planting the seed, you need to mow your grass correctly to encourage future growth.
If you mow incorrectly, it could impact how well the grass seed spreads in the future.
It can also determine how well it’s able to take in water and survive.
You need to mow warm-season grasses close to the ground.
That’s because there isn’t always that much water in hotter climates.
Mowing close to the ground helps spread out the water for the rest of the grass.
You’re left with fewer clumps of dry grass.
You can leave cool-season grasses at a higher length when mowing.
That’s because there’s usually enough water to feed the new grass.
In the middle of summer, however, you might also want to consider mowing closer to the ground to help conserve the water.
How To Plant New Grass Seed
Once you have your lawn prepared and you know how to mow the grass after it grows, you’re ready to start planting your grass.
Here are the steps you should follow to successfully plant new grass seed.
1. Dig Or Till
The first step is to dig or till the ground.
You’ll need to dig down to a depth of three inches.
Remove any clumps and make sure the bottom surface is smooth.
You should also dig with contours in mind to help with drainage.
2. Add Nutrients As Needed
You may have determined that your soil’s pH needs adjusting.
Add the nutrients that you need to bring the soil to the ideal pH level.
That might include compost, fertilizer, or fresh topsoil.
Work it into the soil with a hoe or similar tool.
3. Plant The Grass Seed
Each bag of seed will have suggestions for sowing.
This will help you determine how far you should spread the grass seed.
For the best results, you should sow in one direction first, then sow in the opposite direction.
The result should be a crisscross pattern.
4. Rake And Mulch
You need to cover the seeds to protect them from birds and other pests.
Lightly rake some soil over the seeds until they’re covered.
It’s also an ideal time to cover them with some mulch to further protect and nourish them.
The best type of mulch for new seed is a straw mulch that doesn’t contain weed killer.
You can also put down an erosion-control blanket on the area.
This helps keep the seeds from blowing away or washing away in the presence of heavy rain.
5. Water The Seeds
It can be easy to overwater new grass seeds, so you should put together a watering schedule.
You want to keep the ground moist but not drenched or saturated with water.
You should cut back on your watering once your grass grows to one inch in length.
Once it hits that mark, you should water only once a day.
The final step is to let the grass grow until its three inches in length.
Then you can mow.
Continue this process until you’ve mowed four times.
At this point, you can start to add weed killer and mow at your leisure.
Knowing when grass seeds germinate can help you plan your new lawn or landscaping project.
It can also help you determine that something is wrong with your lawn if your grass isn’t growing as it should.
Following the steps above can help you successfully plant new grass seed.