Are you eager to grow a lush and attractive lawn? Starting your lawn from seed is a pocket-friendly alternative to installing sod but you will have to wait for a bit before the first blades of grass sprout.
How long it takes for grass seed to grow depends on a variety of factors. Read on to understand how long you will have to wait for your new lawn to come up and tips on establishing an enviable lawn.
1. Grass Type
The first factor that directly affects how long it will take grass to grow is the type of grass you plant. Grass fall into two categories: cold-season grass and warm-season grass.
Cold-season grass grows faster and thrives in cool temperatures. Specifically, these types of grasses will do well in soil temperatures between 10 and 18 degrees Celsius. Examples of cool-season grass include Tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and Annual ryegrass.
Cold season grass seeds take an average of 5 to 12 days to germinate as long as the conditions are right and proper lawn care is provided.
For best results, we recommend planting cool-season grass seeds in the cooler months, which is usually toward the tail end of summer or fall, or the end of winter. The cool weather will allow the grass seeds to sprout into tiny blades, which will become established before the weather warms up again.
Common types of warm-season grasses are Centipede grass, Zoysia grass, Bermuda grass, and Buffalo grass just to mention a few.
As the name suggests, these grasses do well in a warmer climate with ideal soil temperatures being between 15 and 23 degrees Celsius and daytime temperatures of 27 degrees and above.
These grasses take an average of 10 to 30 days to sprout and up to a year to grow into a thick, lush lawn. Slight downward changes in temperature will easily destroy warm-season grasses.
The best time to plant warm-season grass is in late spring or at the start of summer. This will give the seeds enough time to sprout and establish their roots before the cold season creeps in.
2. Age of Seeds
Another factor that will affect how fast your grass grows is the quality of the seeds. If you plant expired seeds or seeds that are too old, the grass might take longer to grow or experience stunted growth, which is not the ideal result you are expecting.
Keep an eye on shelf life
Most grass seeds have a shelf life of about two years but can go bad before then. For the best results, we recommend buying seeds that haven’t stayed too long.
You can check if your grass seeds are still good by placing some in tissue and wrapping in a plastic bag. Good seeds will sprout and expired ones will not or will take longer to show any signs of sprouting.
Observe proper planting depth
With good grass seeds in hand, the next thing you need to be careful with is how you plant these seeds. This will also affect how fast and how well the grass grows. The secret is to plant the seeds deep enough for them to establish their roots and sprout into a strong, healthy lawn.
For a new lawn, we recommend placing the seeds ¼ inches deep into the soil. This is neither too deep nor too shallow and gives the seedling enough depth to establish themselves. Avoid going deeper than this as the seed will have a hard time sprouting. It is also a good idea to loosen up the soil to allow the seeds to sprout easily.
3. Site Preparation
You cannot control the weather but you do have a say in how well prepared your lawn site is to support the growth of grass.
Poor site preparation can delay the growth of even the fastest-growing type of grass. Take your time to make the site hospitable to grass seeds and you will be rewarded with a beautiful lawn in no time.
The first step to preparing your site is to get rid of existing weeds. If you choose to apply chemical weed killers, you have to wait for some time before planting new grass.
Planting new seeds soon after applying weed killer might result in the grass not growing, growing too slowly, or growing in unsightly patches, which goes against your goal of establishing a lush lawn. So, be sure to follow the instructions on the ideal wait time for planting grass after applying weed killer.
Feed your lawn site
Next, before planting your seeds, make sure to feed your lawn with the right type of fertilizer. Like other plants, grass also needs adequate nutrients to grow and if you are looking for moderately fast growth and a thick lawn, you should definitely apply fertilizer to your soil before planting.
Remove rocks and debris
Remember to smoothen the seedbed by removing unwanted debris and obstacles that might prevent the grass from growing properly. Once the soil is ready and the grass seed is spread, be sure to cover the site with straw or compost mulch to protect the seed and give it a safe environment to grow.
4. Watering Cycle
The way you water your lawn will make all the difference in how fast the grass grows. Grass seeds are incredibly sensitive and require a well-thought-out watering cycle, care, and ongoing maintenance.
Provide just enough water
When it comes to growing a lawn, too much water or too little can prevent proper growth. A few days before planting grass seed, water the site to about 5 to 8 inches to give the new seed enough water to germinate.
Soon after planting, water the site again and then every other day thereafter. Just be careful not to water your site too much as to wash away the seeds, which will result in a patchy lawn. The amount of rain you receive will determine how much you will need to water your new grass seeds. In drier climate, you will need to water more frequently for the seeds to sprout.
Water at the right time
The best time to water your newly planted lawn is early in the morning when the sun is out but there is no wind to blow away the seeds. The sun is also not too hot at this time so water will not be wasted through evaporation and the soil will absorb enough water to aid with germination.
As you water your new lawn site, it is important to keep an eye on the moisture level in this area to avoid feeding the seeds with too much water. You can use your hands to check and assess the moisture content. If the soil is too soggy, you might want to pause watering the site for a few days to allow the soil to fully absorb the water.
Grass that is properly watered will have stronger roots and can therefore access the necessary nutrients to aid in fast growth. Water the seeds deeply and frequently while they are still young and you will be reward with a gorgeous lawn in just a few weeks.
Reasons for Slow Grass Growth
Sometimes, it seems like you have done everything right but your grass still will not grow into the deep green lawn you have always wanted. If this is the case, you should find out what is keeping your grass seeds from sprouting properly. Over the years, we have found the common culprits for slow grass growth are:
Grass, like other plants, requires enough sunlight to germinate. If you are trying to grow your lawn in a shady area, chances are good that the grass will take too long to grow or might not grow at all. In this case, you will need a grass seed mixture that is formulated to grow in shaded areas.
Before planting new grass seed, it helps to check the pH value of the soil to ensure that it is hospitable for plant growth. Soil that is packed together and/or has a pH level below 6.0, which means that it is acidic, will not support proper seedling growth. You can learn more about soil pH for better lawn care management.
Too much foot traffic
After planting the grass seed, you should minimize foot traffic in that area. When pets and people step on the newly seeded area, the seedling will not get off to a good start. You should give your lawn time to grow and only allow regular traffic after mowing the lawn 3-4 times.
Growing grass seems simple enough but the truth is that a lot of proper planning and maintenance goes into nurturing seeds for them to blossom into a vibrant and healthy lawn. How long does it take for grass to grow? As you have seen, with the right care, good preparation, and a bit of patience, grass seeds will start to sprout within 5 to 30 days.
Have you tried to grow grass seeds? How did that go? Let us know in the comments below—we’d love to hear from you!