If you’ve planted grass seed on your lawn, you’re probably eager to know how long it will take to germinate. The truth is that there are many different factors that can impact grass seed germination time, so while most lawn grass species have a specific range of days listed on the bag, the germination time for your seed may be different.
To assist you understand when your seed should develop, I will describe all of these elements in this essay.
I’ll also list the average germination times of different popular grass seed varieties, with some tips about when each type of seed tends to grow best, and the conditions each finds favorable.
Let’s get started with the basics of how different types of grass germinate.
Cool-Season Grasses Have Rapid Germination
Most cool-season grasses germinate faster.
Plant a cool-season grass type in the US cool-season grass area or transition region.
Use this grass zone map to choose the ideal seed for your lawn.
Plant and care for your grass seed to ensure germination. Cool-season grass seed should be planted in 50–65 degree soil. These earth temperatures occur when air temperatures are 60–75 degrees.
Whether you’re planting and growing a new lawn, or overseeding a cool season lawn, fall is the best time of year (because your seedlings don’t have to compete with annual weed pressure).
If you care for your freshly planted lawn, your cool-season grass seed should develop and be ready to mow within a month. These grasses germinate in a week and grow to three inches in a few weeks.
For example, tall fescue germinates in between 7 and 12 days. Kentucky bluegrass will usually germinate between 7 and 10 days. Annual and perennial ryegrass germinate very quickly (in between 5 and 10 days – though I’ve seen germination in 3-4 days in perfect conditions).
What about Warm-Season Grasses?
Warm-season grasses germinate slower. Warm-season grass seed germinates and develops roots slower.
There are a few reasons for this, but the process of photosynthesis and growth differs between the two grasses, so if you’re growing a warm season lawn from seed, you’ll need some patience.
After seeding warm-season grasses, chilly temperatures might hinder germination. Plant warm-season grass seed when the soil is 60–75 degrees Fahrenheit. Daily temperatures should exceed 80 degrees. Usually late spring or early summer.
If you plant a warm-season grass, you will probably see the blades get tall enough for cutting within about eight weeks of planting. Don’t be surprised if you wait a full year to see a dense, lush lawn.
The germination time for buffalo grass is between 14 and 30 days. For Centipede grass, it’s between 14 and 21 days. If you plant Bermudagrass, you can expect germination to happen between 10 days and a month. With Zoysia grass, seeds germinate within 14 and 21 days.
Factors that Impact Germination
Besides the kind of grass seed you sow, environmental variables influence grass seed germination time.
- site preparation,
- the time of year, and
Let’s take a closer look at how each will impact the germination time of your grass seed.
Most grass seedlings flourish in full sunshine. Seeds produce tiny leaves that use sunlight to create energy. Leaves and roots need this energy.
Though certain grasses thrive in shadow, full sunshine is better for grass seed and development.
It’s best if the area where you’re planting gets a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight every day. If it doesn’t have this much sunlight, you will probably need to get a seed mix made especially for shade.
You’ve got to prepare the soil before trying to plant grass seed. If you don’t, your seed isn’t likely to germinate and grow successfully.
Before sowing grass seed, dethatch your yard or use a plug or spike aerator to loosen the soil. Young roots may grow better in loose soil.
You should also try to get rid of any lawn weeds.
If you use chemical weed killers on your lawn, wait before sowing grass seed. Planting grass seed too soon after applying a chemical weed killer may destroy it.
And if you’re planning to seed in the spring and use pre-emergent herbicide on your lawn (you can find my favorites here) to block annual weed seed germination … be aware this can block grass seed germination too. You can find one option that may work on my list of recommended pre-emergent products.
At the same time you seed, use one of my recommended starter fertilizers. You can calculate your lawn’s square footage right here to make sure you buy the right amount for your project.
Read the grass seed directions carefully to learn how to prepare the soil before sowing.
Cover the grass seed with a quarter-inch layer of straw mulch, compost, or peat moss. Covering grass seed keeps it wet and keeps birds away.
After seeding, avoid walking on your lawn.
Water appropriately to sprout grass seeds and produce a healthy lawn. The most important step to a healthy lawn is watering your grass seed at the proper time and in the right quantity.
Water grass seed immediately after planting. Water daily till germination.
After germination, keep soil wet. Water carefully to avoid dislodging seeds or causing run-off.
You should water the area lightly four times every day from the day of planting to when you see germination. Once you see germination, do one half-hour watering session each day, two if it’s especially dry or windy.
You don’t want your young seedlings to dry out.
Once you’ve passed the 22nd day after germination, water the area for 40 minutes every other day.
After a week, start weekly 45-minute waterings.
Deep, infrequent watering is best for new grass.
This will encourage your new grass to grow deep roots that seek out moisture between irrigation sessions, producing a lawn that’s more resilient to drought.
Chart: Most Common Grass Types and their Germination Rates
In these charts, I’ll share grass seed germination rates for the most common grass types.
Popular Cool-Season Grass Seed Germination Time Chart
|Grass Type||Germination Time||Additional Information|
|Annual Ryegrass||5-10 days||Best to plant in September|
|Hard Fescue||7-14 days||Can thrive in poor soils|
|Kentucky bluegrass||14-30 days||Avoid overly dry or cold soil|
|Perennial Ryegrass||5-10 days||Plant in the fall months|
|Tall Fescue||7-12 days||Plant 45 days before the first frost.|
|Red Fescue||7-14 days||Avoid excessively dry or cold soil|
|Fine Fescue||7-14 days||Fast seedling growth|
Popular Warm-Season Grass Seed Germination Time Chart
|Grass Type||Germination Time||Additional Information|
|Bahia Grass||14-28 days||Plant in the spring or early summer|
|Bermuda Grass||10-30 days||Expect seedlings to be especially tiny at first|
|Centipede Grass||14-21 days||Can thrive in low-nutrition, sandy types of soil|
|Buffalo Grass||14-30 days||Make sure soil is well-drained|
|Zoysia Grass||14-21 days||Cold-tolerant than other warm-season grasses|
|Seashore Paspalum||7-14 days||Can handle high soil and irrigation water salt.|
Getting Your Grass Seed Ready
Preparing grass seed for sowing requires particular measures.
Pre-germinating the grass seed may boost germination rates and outcomes.
I find this works best if you’re doing lawn repairs (it’s tough for large areas).
Jon Peters of Longview Woodworking has a nice short video showing how he does this using fine sawdust from his shop’s table saw:
I’m a big fan of his YouTube channel and if you’re into woodworking at all, I suggest checking it out here.
Common Problems with Germination
If you’ve noticed that your grass seed isn’t germinating when it should, there is probably another issue.
There are several common issues. These may hinder grass seed germination.
Let’s take a look at some common reasons your grass seed isn’t germinating below:
1.You Didn’t Plant at the Right Time
Planting your grass seed at the wrong time of year can mean it won’t germinate and grow as it should. For example, if you planted in mid to late fall, temperatures might have fallen too far, or the first frost might have killed your seedlings as they germinated.
Similarly, if you plant too early in spring the ground may not be warm enough for your seed to germinate. There’s a specific soil temperature grass seed needs to germinate.
I recommend seeding in April when the lilacs blossom.
2.You Didn’t Use the Right Amount of Seed
Check how much seed you need for 1,000 square feet of grass. How much grass to utilize depends on the kind. Seed quantities vary depending on whether you’re planting a new lawn or overseeding.
Some seeds need five pounds per 1,000 square feet, while others only two.
If your seed is thin and spotty, you may have used outdated seed or not enough.
3.You Didn’t Test the Soil
One of the biggest reasons people don’t get the results they want from their yard is that they don’t know what their soil lacks, or has in abundance.
You must test your lawn’s soil and make any necessary amendments to get the nutrient levels and pH optimized before planting your grass seed.
Before sowing, fix any pH issues or nutritional deficiencies. This test kit, available on Amazon, is what I use and suggest.
4.You Haven’t Watered Properly
One of the most typical ways homeowners fail at sowing is letting seeds dry out after germinating.
Those new seedlings are so vulnerable when they first start to grow, and if they’re deprived of the moisture they need to establish themselves, they’ll die quick.
At what temperature does grass germinate?
Warm-season grasses germinate best when soil temperatures are consistently in the 65°F to 70°F range. This generally corresponds to daytime air temperatures near 80°F or more.
Can grass seed germinate in 2 days?
Grass seed germination might begin five days after sowing or take a month. Weather, soil, and seed type determine grass sprouting time. Pre-germination and other procedures accelerate sprouting.
What triggers grass seed to germinate?
Grass seed germinates at 55 degrees soil and 60 degrees air. The seed may not germinate or take longer if temps are outside this range.
Can grass seed germinate in 3 days?
Seed germination takes three to 28 days, depending on the grass species and ambient circumstances. Temperature impacts germination.
Does grass need sun to germinate?
Lack of sunshine; seeds may germinate in overcast conditions, but seedlings require 6 hours or more of daylight to develop and spread to become turf. Shaded lawns may take longer to germinate grass seed. Insufficient irrigation delays germination.
Does grass seed need rain to germinate?
Plant the seed. After rain, the seeds will germinate. Waiting for rain delays planting and reduces your prospects of a good grass stand before winter. Plant seeds around mid-September.