Grass is often the foundation of lawns and backyards. Though grass is common everywhere, growing your own grass can give you plenty of options to customize your space. From Menard’s grass to locally-sourced organic grass seeds, there are abundant varieties to suit everyone’s lawn desires. Continue reading to answer the question of ‘how long does it take for grass to grow,’ the stages of grass growth, and how you might be able to speed up germination rates.
What Are Grass Seed Germination Stages?
Germination is the process in which a plant begins to develop from the seed. It is the first step in plant growth and can require vastly different circumstances depending on what is being grown.
Grass seed germination stages are only part of the growing process. Starting from seed going to the reproductive stage, grass growth is a bit different from most other commonly encountered plants. Below are the stages of grass seed growth and what to expect at each stage.
- Germination: This is the stage of development where the seed absorbs moisture, breaking its outer coating and allowing for the emergence of green growth. Crucial elements during this stage are moisture, light, and temperature. Various types of grasses have different germination temperatures and conditions, so consider researching what grass suits your needs. Germination can take from 7 to 30 days.
- Vegetative: Leaf growth and new tissue production is the hallmark of this phase. The grass is not quite fully grown yet, though it is likely widespread. Roots are developing more during this point. Mowing is not yet necessary, as there is not yet stem production. This happens throughout the grass’ life.
- Elongation: Leaf sheaths elongate depending on conditions and temperatures. Cool-season and warm-season grasses come into play during this stage. This growth stage is catalyzed by changes in the length of day and temperature changes, like the shift from winter to spring. Warm-season grasses tend to go dormant during the winter, while cool-season grasses tolerate both seasons’ extremes.
- Reproductive: Grasses are a group of flowering plants and will enter a flowering stage if conditions allow it. Then, the pollen and seeds are spread, leading to further reproduction of the grass species.
When Is The Best Time to Plant Grass Seed?
The best time to plant grass seeds will vary depending on climate and location, though most times of the year can be suitable for mixes of different grass seeds.
Generally speaking, cooler months like September or October are appropriate for cool-weather grasses. Warm weather grasses like Bermuda grass tend to have warmer germination temperatures, so planting in warm summer months is ideal.
Mixing grass seeds can lead to a decent combination of grasses that will thrive in their respective seasons, yielding yards and spaces that look alive and lush throughout the year. Climates best suited for mixed grasses are in the transitional zone, where cool seasons and warm seasons have a longer period of overlapping.
Lawn Grass Types: Warm vs. Cool Season Grasses
Grasses can be classified broadly into two groups for planting purposes: warm-season grasses and cool-season grasses. Both are named after the seasons in which they thrive, though cool-season grasses look appealing during the winter and summer. Below will be the most common grasses in each group and some descriptors.
- Warm Season Grasses
- Bermudagrass: A salt and heat tolerant grass; its quick growth habit makes this a prime choice for many lawns.
- St. Augustinegrass: This grass is coarse in texture and blue-green in color; heat and salt tolerance makes this grass suitable for coastal areas or high-heat climates.
- Zoysiagrass: This is a drought-tolerant grass with an emerald color and medium-coarse texture. Perfect as turfgrass for golf courses.
- Carpetgrass: Carpetgrass can thrive in poor soils and has a creeping growth habit. Helpful in erosion control in coastal areas.
- Cool Season Grasses
- Kentucky Bluegrass: Comes back yearly and grows densely; dark green in color and durable against foot traffic.
- Ryegrass: A quick-germinating grass that is tolerant of shade and foot traffic. Perfect for lawns and used as a mix with other grasses for a wide array of benefits.
- Fescue grass: An adaptable grass that grows in various soil types and temperatures. Low maintenance and bright green.
How Long for Grass Seed to Sprout?
How long for grass seed to sprout can depend on the variety and conditions required for growth. Grass seed germination can start as soon as five days after planting, or it can take up to one month to see sprouts. Weather, soil, and seed type are all factors that will dictate the growth time needed for the grass to sprout. Pre-germination and other methods can be employed to hasten the sprouting process.
Fortunately, grass just needs to cover the ground for it to look passable, so even lawns seeded with grasses that have longer germination times will not look bare for long.
Grass Seed Germination Time Chart
All times listed are under ideal conditions; times may vary if growing conditions are less than perfect. Optimal growing information should be readily available on the seed’s packaging.
|Grass Type||Germination Time|
|Kentucky Bluegrass||10-21 days|
|Rye Grass||5-7 days for perennial/ 5-10 days for annual|
|Bermuda Grass||3-7 days |
How Long Does It Take Grass Seed to Grow Fully?
So how long does it take for grass to grow? This process can take up to two months. At this point, the grass will be fully established and should have filled in the whole lawn, provided it was cared for well when it was initially planted.
Grass seed density should be considered when planting, as the seeds will not grow well if too many are growing on top of each other. To prevent this, a rake can be used to distribute seeds among the soil more evenly. This will lead to better coverage and even growth of the grass.
How to Speed Up Grass Seed Germination?
Planting grass seeds to change the look of your yard can be an exciting time. Getting the results, however, can take longer than one might have the patience. Fortunately, grass seed germination time can be sped up in a few different ways.
- Pre-germinate your seeds: Pre-germination involves soaking your grass seeds to make them swell and start the germination process before being set onto your soil. It is recommended to pre-germinate seed mixes, as these can all have different germination rates. Soaking and pre-germinating the seeds will help them sprout at a more even rate once they are planted.
- Till and amend your soil: Till grass up to 6 inches deep and add peat moss or compost to your site. Add a fertilizer specially formulated for lawns to help increase the vigor of germination in your grass seeds. Fertilizers can promote root and leaf growth, adding to the strength and health of your grass as well as the appearance.
- Toilet paper grass: Using shredded toilet paper, flour, water, grass seeds, and fertilizer, a slurry can be prepared to promote the longevity of the grass seeds and can help accelerate growth by providing nutrients found in the fertilizer. Spread the slurry in a layer about ½ inch thick on the surface intended to grow. This method is useful in applications on uneven ground since the slurry helps keep the seeds in contact with the soil.
How Often to Water New Grass Seed?
Watering is a crucial part in the early development of any plant, and grass is no exception. Effectively watering to prevent drying out and overwatering can be tricky. Here are some tips on watering your new grass seeds:
- Water daily, evenly across the surface, until the seeds germinate. Sprinklers can be set to water for 5-10 minutes twice a day.
- Water your seeds early in the day and again at midday: This helps prevent your grass seed from drying out which could lead to a lack of germination.
- After your grass seed has germinated, watering can be cut back to once or twice a week. The root system has established and the grass can draw from the soil to absorb water and nutrients.
Will grass seed germinate on top of soil?
Yes, grass seed will germinate on top of soil. It is best to keep grass seeds sown shallow, as they cannot break through mounded surfaces. Tilling the soil and using a rake to evenly disperse seeds will lead to better chances of germination, along with proper care.
How quickly does grass seed dry out?
Grass seed can dry out within a day if left unwatered in warm temperatures. It is best to keep grass seed moist through the germination stage to guarantee your grass will grow past the seed stage.
To help with keeping the grass seeds hydrated, watering early on in the day as well as after the hottest part of the day can help to keep your seeds from drying out.
How to pre-germinate grass seed?
Pre-germinating grass seed involves first soaking the grass to rupture its outer coat. This can take up to five days with a water change every twelve hours, but can be stopped after three days if time is a constraint. After the grass seeds have soaked, you can plant them in the yard on tilled, well-draining soil. Keep the seeds moist through this time by misting or gently watering them daily. Grass seed after two weeks should germinate for most varieties, and if a mix of seeds are used, they should germinate around the same time thanks to the soak.
Will grass seed grow if I just throw it down?
Grass seed will not really grow effectively if just thrown down on the ground or on soil since there is likely not enough shade and care for the seeds to sprout. Growing grass in tilled, well-fertilized soil will yield the best results, and is worth the effort it takes to have a picturesque outdoor space.
How long does it take for grass seed to germinate in October?
It can take from two to four weeks for grasses to grow in October, especially if it is a warm-season grass. Cool-season grasses can still germinate and take root in the cooler temperatures of late fall, though you might not see their full potential until spring.
How long for grass seed to grow 3 inches?
It can take up to 30 days to see meaningful grass growth, potentially up to 3 inches, under optimal growing conditions. You might think then, how fast does grass grow? Most established grass grows at a rate of 2-6 inches per month, depending on the variety, so grass grown from seed will likely take at least a month to reach 3 inches in height since there is plenty of energy going towards the vegetative and elongation stages of its growth cycle.