So, you’ve done all the hard work; preparing and sowing your lawn seed. You water diligently every day, but for many days nothing happens. Frustrating isn’t it? It’s a question of patience then: how long does grass seed take to grow?
Well, when conditions are perfect, germination should start within 10 days. Within 8-10 weeks there should be fully established grass plants which will form your new lawn.
However, things are rarely that simple, so we’ll tell you exactly how to increase your chances of success.
What Affects Grass Seed Germination?
What if you planted the same type of grass seed every year, and it always grew at exactly the same rate? The answer is that this will never happen. There are four main factors which determine how quickly your lawn seeds grow:
- Weather conditions
- Soil quality in which they were grown
- Types of grasses mixed together (or just one variety)
- Lawn aftercare
Let’s take a look at each factor individually for more information on why results vary considerably.
Germination and growth of grass seed is affected by the weather, so time your planting to provide for optimal growing conditions. The most common germinating temperature range is 8-10 degrees Celsius or 50°F – 60°F where it will start quickly.
If you’re living in a country with temperatures that regularly drop below this level such as Canada (0°C), then be extra careful about how long before harvesting during these cooler days because they can stop seeds from sprouting.
The best time to sow grass seed is in autumn. With spring being a close second, but just because these seasons provide ideal conditions doesn’t mean they are also perfect for your lawn’s needs.
For example, if it’s unusually dry in the spring and you don’t have an excellent aftercare plan, then planting should be postponed until next year or better yet wait till autumn when there will still likely be some rain left over from earlier rainfall that will help ensure success without risk of drought injury due to lack of rainfall during sowing season.
When deciding when exactly one should plant their new seeds, make sure you have a look at a two week weather forecast first so you can choose the ideal weather conditions.
Good soil conditions are crucial to producing a healthy lawn.
Soil needs to be firm but not compact, free of weeds and roots, rich in nutrients from the addition of pre-lawn feeds or organic matter with an optimal pH balance for your type of grass seed and warm enough so that germination can occur during autumn’s sunnier days.
It’s important to get the right depth for planting your grass seed. If you plant it too deeply, it won’t get enough sunlight and will grow weakly or not at all. If planted too close to the surface, there is a risk of insufficient contact with soil – but when planted correctly, your grass seed will germinate well.
The best way to care for our lawns is by ensuring healthy growth through careful consideration about how deep we are planting seeds.
Grass Types and Seed Mixtures
Different types of grass germinate and grow at different rates depending on the weather and soil temperature. This means that you should sow certain seeds in warmer temperatures than others to ensure they will germinate properly.
The image above shows the various ranges for each type of seed when it comes to their respective germination times dependent upon climate conditions.
For example: hardwearing ryegrass needs low temps around 8 degrees which is why sowing these earlier in early spring or later during autumn months are best as cooler temperatures continue throughout winter.
Fescues need around a 12 degree temperature range before turning green, but Bent Grasses require soils with 15 degrees during the pre-germination period.
For an ornamental lawn, you need to plant grass in the early spring and late fall when it is warm enough.
The seeds for your ornamental lawn will most likely be rye with some mixed fescue and bentgrass within that mixture of seed. The first germinations are often from the rye content followed by fescues coming out as they require higher temperatures.
It can seem like your lawn has patches just after several weeks because these types of plants grow at different rates depending on what type they are, but once again this process requires maintenance which means keeping up with watering.
The best way to keep your lawn looking great is by watering it. But you need a delicate touch, because too much water can cause the soil to be soaked with only some of it absorbing into the ground and more likely than not drying out again quickly.
Make sure that when you do water, five minutes are enough at one time so as not to leave puddles in any area for longer than necessary. If there’s no rain, morning will work well or midday if things seem dryer on those days.
A balanced approach will come down heavily on what’s happening outside: does it look like rain? Are you having unusually hot weather?
How to Speed Up Grass Seed Germination
Of course, there are a couple of things you can do to speed up the germination of grass seed and that is by artificially increasing the soil temperature. This will work best if you cover your lawn with heavy-duty plastic sheeting and let it stay in place for at least one day before removing it.
To create a greenhouse effect which raises the soil temperature, make sure to take off or replace this layer every time water needs to be applied.
As the soil temperature rises, you’ll see your grass seed start to germinate and grow at an impressive rate.
As a general rule, it is best practice to pre-germinate any seeds before seeding them into the ground for added growth speed.
As you know, it is important to prepare the ground for germinating grass seed. This means fertilizing and watering the soil before sowing your seeds at just the right time of year when there’s a balance between sunlight exposure and moisture to give them their best chance of growing well. If we follow these steps, our lawns should grow as lushly green as one could hope.