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How Long Does it Take for Grass to Grow?

Growing grass
MarkoDzeletovic / Getty

Depending on the turf species, it can take anywhere between five and 30 days for grass seed germination to begin. After that, it takes another three to four weeks before the grass is long enough to mow.

However, it’s important to know that host of factors can influence how fast your grass grows — including weather, grass type, and soil. To get a better understanding of how long it will take for you to get your dream lawn, read on to learn more about the seed germination process and watering tips to keep your grass alive.

Understanding grass seed germination

Germination is the time it takes for grass to start appearing after seeds are planted. The type of seed you use will primarily determine the germination length, but weather, time of year, and soil conditions also play a role. Here’s a list of some of the most common grass seeds, and how long it takes for them to germinate.

  • Annual Ryegrass: This is a fast-growing and versatile grass, but it’s not very tolerant of the cold. It typically germinates in five to 10 days.
  • Bentgrass: This popular perennial cool-season grass can often be seen on golf course greens. It germinates within two weeks.
  • Kentucky Bluegrass: This is a hardy grass that’s very tolerant to cold, but it takes longer (between 14-30 days) to germinate.
  • Perennial Ryegrass: This is a popular grass for lawns that’s great with foot traffic, too. It requires a lot of watering but is a speedy germinator that only needs five to 10 days.
  • Red Fescue: This is a cool-season grass that does well in the shade and requires little water. It will germinate in about 7 to 14 days.
  • Zoysia Grass: This is a popular warm-season grass that’s drought-tolerant and handles foot traffic well. Zoysia is a slower germinator, though, typically needing between 14 and 21 days.

When is the best time to plant grass seed?

Spring is typically a good time to plant many grass seeds, but that’s not always the case. The best time to plant your grass seed depends on your location and seed type. If you live in a mild climate, seek out the right warm-weather grass seed for your environment.

If you’re in a cooler climate, you’ll need a cool-weather grass seed, such as a Bentgrass or Kentucky Bluegrass, and spring may not be the best time to plant seeds for cool-weather varieties. If you live in a warm-weather environment, but you’re headed into the cooler winter months, ask a professional if it’s a good time to seed. You may consider delaying your project and waiting until spring.

Keep these general tips about temperatures in mind, too.

  • Tip #1: You don’t want to plant a warm-season grass if there’s a threat of frost is within 60 days. In cooler climates, think 90 days.
  • Tip #2: Cool-season grasses grow best at daytime temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees.
  • Tip #3: When daytime temperatures are below 55 degrees, it’s too late to plant a cool-weather grass.

Why is my grass seed not germinating? Factors that can impact grass growth

Since every planting situation is unique, a variety of factors can impact how quickly or if a seed germinates at all. Here are some common reasons why a grass seed may have trouble germinating:

Using the wrong type of seed

It’s important to know which seed type is best for your region. There are online charts that will help you, and you can ask a pro at the local nursery, too. You don’t want to force trying to grow grass that’s not suitable for your climate.

Not testing soil

Soils vary in nutrient levels and alkalinity, so it’s key to match the type of soil you have with the type of soil your seed wants. A soil test can help you better understand if you need pre-seeding fertilizer, and it can also inform any soil preparation you’ll need to do before seeding.

Not paying attention to seeding rates

One grass may require two pounds of seeding per 1,000 square feet while another may need five pounds per 1,000 square feet. Read the package to see the best coverage rates for your seeds.

It’s bad timing

You can poorly time a lot of things when it comes to grass seeding. Planting too close to a frost period or letting the soil get too dry during the germination period can result in poor grass growth.

Watering grass seed: How do I keep my new lawn alive?

Appropriate watering is critical to germination as well as the long-term health of your grass. If you over-water, you may wash away the seeds. If you under-water, the seeds may never sprout. Here are four important tips for proper watering:

  • Tip #1: You need to create a moist, inviting environment for the seeds to germinate. Several days before planting, you’ll want to water to a depth of six to eight inches.
  • Tip #2: After that, you’ll need to keep watering regularly so that the top two inches stay moist but not sopping wet.
  • Tip #3: Keep monitoring the lawn as the seeds germinate. Keep an eye on how the sun impacts the germination by monitoring the sunny and shady areas.
  • Tip #4: Once the lawn is fully established, you’ll want to give it about one inch of water a week. Water in the morning to avoid evaporation and avoid watering at night, as the water may sit on the surface for too long and promote fungus growth.

The bottom line

Before you put down seed, make sure you do your research. For the best possible outcome, make sure you’ve chosen the right seed for your climate and location. You must also pay attention to the many details that can help your seeds germinate — like your soil, outdoor temperatures, and regular watering. If in doubt, ask a professional at a local nursery, or neighbors who may have planted grass seed in past years. Two local minds are always better than one.

Frequently asked questions

  • You can use a spreader for evenly broadcasting seed, or you can spread seed by hand across small areas. Follow the recommendations on the seed package label, which will also tell you about the amount of seed needed per square foot of soil.

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