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In general, grass germination takes anywhere between 5 to 30 days. However, a lush, green, established lawn takes patience and attention to achieve. More than that, it takes experience and expertise from someone who has been planting and growing grass for a long time.
In this article, we give you an overview of the different kinds of grass and provide the best tips on how to grow grass effectively, whether you’re doing the work yourself or hiring a professional like TruGreen.
Where you are geographically in the U.S. affects what grass will grow best. While there is no area in the U.S. where temperatures are perfectly consistent, grass is generally categorized into cool-season grass and warm-season grass.
Cool-season grass (or creeping grass) spreads out from the crown of the plant and the shoots develop nodes underground (called rhizomes).
Warm-season grass (or brush grass) spreads from the crown of the plant. Homeowners should mow the lawn at a higher level to protect this crown. Because warm-season grass turns brown in the winter, you can overseed with ryegrass in the winter, and it will die off in the summer.
If you live in the Northern, Northeastern, or Pacific Northwest regions (or where the climate fluctuates), you’ll want to consider cool-season grass. Cool-season grass grows best within the 60°F to 75°F range, and includes:
On the other hand, if you live in the Southern or Southeastern regions of the U.S., you’ll want to consider warm-season grasses. Warm-season grass grows best in areas where temperatures range between 80°F and 95°F and includes:
When growing grass from scratch, understanding the germination process is the first step. Just add some dirt and some water and you’re all set, right? Not exactly. Seed germination is the transformation from a seed to a plant, but getting the seed to grow depends on a lot of factors. The germination time for grass seeds ranges, depending on the seeds, but can take anywhere from five to 30 days—so don’t plant your seeds and go on vacation. You’ll need to be around to care for the new seedlings.
The goal is to provide the seeds with the right environment, so they can absorb the water and expand in a process called imbibition. After this occurs, the water can activate the enzymes (or plant proteins), so roots can begin to grow. This is the crucial aspect of seed growth. Once you have roots, they will reach underground for more water. This is when you’ll start to see shoots appear above ground.
As soon as you see these tiny green shoots, you’ll know that the germination process is working—and you’re on your way to a beautiful green lawn.
Aside from temperature, soil acidity levels, weather changes, and the presence of disease can impact grass germination and growth. With all these factors, it takes care and consideration to grow your grass into a luscious lawn.
Here are 10 of our best tips on how to successfully grow grass.
Ideally, you should plant new cool-season grass in spring or early fall and warm-season grasses in early summer. If you are trying to grow grass seeds yourself, then it’s important to know which kinds will grow best in your area. You can also save yourself the time and headache of reseeding your lawn by hiring a lawn care company to do the dirty work for you.
If you plan on just overseeding (spreading grass seeds over an existing lawn), then you should be able to get your lawn in better shape on your own. However, if you are replacing an existing lawn, consider using a sod cutter to cut out old grass roots. Alternatively, you can use an herbicide that will kill all of the existing grass.
When shopping for new turf, purchasing quality grass seeds is worth considering. Look for grass seed bags marked with an National Turf Evaluation Program (NTEP) rating. NTEP ratings indicate that the seeds have been specifically bred to be more durable and resistant to pests or diseases.
Give yourself a few weeks to prepare the soil before sowing or adding seeds. During this time, optimize it for grass seed or sod growth:
Using your hands or a lawn spreader, place about 16 seeds per square inch to ensure that the grass seeds aren’t fighting for nutrients in the soil. You can also use a grass seed calculator to determine how much you need. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil, fertilizer, and mulch, so the seeds don’t wash away. Don’t put too much soil on top, since the seeds need sun exposure.
You may also use a method such as hydroseeding, or applying spray-on grass seed.
The key to getting grass seeds to germinate is to keep the thin layer of soil on top of the seeds moist. Don’t overwater, or you’ll drown the seedlings. Watering your lawn once a day with a light spray should work. On hotter days, you should water it more often. The idea is to keep the roots and the soil moist. If you see mold growing, stop watering.
Once you see seedlings, you can transition to watering less. Consult our grass information above for germination times and when you should expect to see seedlings. Be patient. If you don’t see results, reseed.
Monitor whether the grass is taking root and spreading or flourishing. Reseed if there are any dead patches and remove crabgrass.
Allow grass to grow 2–3 inches before mowing and don’t use pesticide or weed killers without first consulting an expert.
If you want your seeds to germinate faster, start your grass seeds in a container, mixing them with compost, keep the compost moist, and wait for seedlings to appear. Once the seeds begin to germinate, you can transplant them into your prepared soil. If the conditions are right, you should see results faster. Moreover, make sure that there isn’t heavy foot traffic on your lawn.
How deep you plant the seeds, what type of soil you use, how much water you give them, and what soil temperature the seeds are in matters. Ideally, the soil (not the outside air) should be between 50 and 65°F. This typically occurs when the air temperature is 10 degrees higher (60–75°F). It can be one or all of these factors that prevents you from seeing grass sprout.
Avoid the following (common) mistakes:
The biggest challenge is understanding the right amount of watering. Unfortunately, there’s no exact formula. What you should remember is this: if the seeds dry out, they die.
Depending on where you live and when you plant your new seeds, there may be rainfall. If you’re using a sprinkler system, this should be fine, but make sure all areas of the lawn are equally moist. If not, you should water the dry patches by hand.
These are our tips to ensuring that you’ve watered enough, but not too much:
Eighty percent of American homes have lawns. That’s thousands (if not millions) of Americans who spend time, energy, and money on maintaining their lawns.
In fact, the average American spends 70 hours on lawn care. Considering that’s only the average and takes into account people who spend zero hours on their lawn, that statistic is probably much higher. It takes a lot of research, money, time, effort, and patience to grow grass and maintain a healthy lawn. If you want your grass to look green and lush year-round, you’ll have to commit to hours of diligent lawn maintenance. If you can commit to that, great! If not, then it’s time to bring in the professionals.
Growing and germinating grass properly is a science. An entire industry is dedicated to caring for your lawn, and you have the knowledge and experience of professionals working for you. What’s not to like?
House Method recommends going with TruGreen for your grass. TruGreen is America’s #1 professional lawn care company, and they have the expertise and resources to ensure your grass is in good hands.*
Here’s why we choose TruGreen:
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