Grass Seed Germination

Nothing plays a bigger role in the American dream than a perfect, green lawn. We see it in advertising; we see it in movies; we see it on the fields of or sports teams. Green, unblemished grass is the holy grail of every homeowner.

But how do you start the perfect lawn? Planting grass seed needs to be more than an act of faith. To achieve the perfect lawn you need to understand the fundamentals of grass seed germination.

What Every Grass Seed Wants
For proper grass seed germination, several conditions need to be present. Like most living things, grass seed need food, water and shelter.

  • It starts with dirt. Good soil contact is the first essential step in successful seed germination. Grass seeds need to be covered in soil to a depth of 1/8 to ¼ inch. Soil contact insures that grass seed will be able to absorb moisture.
  • Consistently moist. A consistent source of moisture is important throughout the germination process. Too little moisture and grass seed will dry out. Too much moisture and grass seed will rot.
  • The perfect temperature. The germination of grass seed is triggered by proper soil temperature. Warm season grass seed will germinate with minimum soil temperatures of 55 to 65 degrees. Cool season grass seed will germinate with minimum soil temperatures of 45 to 55 degrees.
  • Sprouts are hungry. Newly germinated grass seed needs energy to produce new growth. Preparing the soil by adding a starter fertilizer give grass seed a boost after germination.

But When Will I See Green?
Different types of grass seed have different germination periods. Some grasses may take close to a month to germinate, while others will sprout up in less than a week. Typical germination times are:

  • Bentgrass: 10-15 days
  • Bermuda: 10-30 days
  • Bluegrass: 20-30 days
  • Buffalo Grass: 14-28 days
  • Centipede: 14-21 days
  • Fescues: 7-15 days
  • Rye Grass: 5-10 days
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