Grass Seed Germination 101


Grass Seed Germination 101

Grass seed germination is like an experiment that keeps you in suspense! You have one chance to get it right the first time! Having high expectations for your lawn is reasonable? Is it possible that every grass seed will sprout and grow?

Germination is the growth process that occurs as the seed absorbs sufficient nutrients to start sprouting. This process is regulated by soil temperature as it relates to the grass variety.

The growth of your new lawn depends on the successful germination of your lawn seeds. It cannot start to grow, then stop because something is wrong, wait till conditions improve, and then continue the process. Getting it right has you enjoying a lush lawn infill repair or new lawn altogether sooner than later!

lawn with grass seed germination

Grass Seed Germination Ingredients

The seed needs the following ingredients to have a healthy start in germinating and growing.

Soil Warmth

Soil temperatures are imperative to the variety of grass you are trying to grow. Soil temperatures tend to be usually cooler than air temperature. Also, the density of the ground is slower to warm up; moisture evaporating from the surface has a cooling effect.


Moisture must be present throughout the process. Too little and the seed can dry out. Too much and the seed can rot. By applying a light layer of soil or compost covering over the seeded area will help retain moisture throughout the day than having no coverage at all. Also, if you have no covering the seeds are more prone to blow away or not stay moist enough


Seeds have limited resources to support growth while below ground. Even though they can retain up to 10 percent of water volume, they are still heavily dependent on other environmental support. The sprout must break through the surface. Photosynthesis creates food for the plant.


When the sprout breaks through the seed hull, it requires oxygen for its growth process. Ensure that the soil is not compacted or too thick as can also contribute to this problem.


Tips To Apply Grass Seed

1. Place seed in direct contact with the soil to absorb moisture. Rake the seed lightly after sowing to mix it with the dirt and go over it with a light roller to press it into the soil.

2. Apply Light Mulch to help retain moisture. A fragile layer, 1/8” to ¼” is fine. All seed cover or compost should be finely screened to avoid clumps that bury the seed. A good option for large areas is Straw. Make sure you don’t use hay that has seeds in it.

3. Timing is everything (choose the right seed). Grasses that are cool season don’t fair well at higher temperatures. Likewise, with warm-season grasses, these have trouble growing in cooler temperatures.

4. Keep animals and kids away. Birds love to eat the uncovered seed. Do whatever it takes to prevent them. Restrict activity of kids and pets at this time as well.

5. Consistent, light watering is required. Avoid over-watering. Avoid under-watering.


Grass Seed Germination Time Periods

Bent grass10-15
Buffalo Grass14-28
Rye Grass5-10

This chart may indicate the amount of time until grass first appears. Growing conditions affect this process. (Source:


Watch Your Lawn Grow

Grass seed always seems to take a long time, especially when you watch it closely. That makes it very disheartening when the results are less than perfect. Sometimes people wait two, three, four weeks, but never see any grass. Seed can fail to germinate.

Sowing a sample of your crop see can help prevent future problems down the line. Plant some seeds in a pot, cup or jar and keep it in a warm, but the protected area. These seeds should germinate a few days before most of the lawn area since the potting soil should be warmer.


Common Grass Growing Mistakes

A lush, vibrant lawn for the spring takes time and effort, but the rewards are worth the time and resources invested. A beautiful lawn can improve your home’s value, environment, and play a significant role in positive drainage for your property. If you’re a first-time grower, you can seed right and avoid these simple mistakes:

1. Planting the wrong seed

Choose appropriate grass varieties to ensure your lawn grows well. Kentucky bluegrass and Bermuda grass, for example, differ significantly in climate and maintenance requirements. Plant grass varieties according to your growing region.

Read what’s actually inside the seed bags you or your lawn professional is spreading on your lawn. The information on the packet will explain the seed spreading, quality, watering and other related instructions to ensure the best growth for the seed purchases. Cheaper priced seeds can mean less seed versus fillers, old seeds past their prime, more weed seeds and lower germination rates. Getting seed right from the start benefits your lawn and budget. Ask the retailer if the seed is this seasons stock to ensure its freshness and overall best success at sprouting this season.

2. Not Knowing your Soil.

Whether your soil is low or high on the PH scale that will affect the growth of the seed. Soil testing is time-consuming but worth it, in the long run, to help determine your soil type and any amendments you should add if needed.

3. improper seeding rate.

Overseeing an existing lawn is not necessary, but under seeding, a new lawn will leave it sparse. Follow the package instructions to ensure the seed best advantage to succeed.


4. Planting without proper timing.

Proper timing has an essential impact on results. Seasonal cycles occur. Different regions have different times for optimal grass growth. Timing your seed projects to coincide with growing cycles dramatically increases the chances of success.

In Canada, the best time to plant seed is in the Fall season. Due to the cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescues peak in growth, and conditions enhance fast germination and establishment.


5. Applying weed treatments or weed & feed fertilisers with seed.

One of the ways weed treatments work is by preventing germinating seeds from establishing roots. But these products, known as pre-emergent, can’t distinguish between bad weed seeds and desirable grass seed you put down.