What are the Best Tips for Grass Seed Germination?

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  • Written By: T. L. Childree
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 06 April 2019
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Grass seed germination is a delicate process, but there are a few tips that can help produce better results. The correct seed must be chosen for the particular planting location and sown at the proper time of year. Adequate soil preparation and an even seed distribution rate are essential for successful grass seed germination. The soil must be kept moist at all times during grass seed germination. After the germination process is complete, the planting area should not be put to use until the grass is fully established.

Certain species of grass do better in different locations, so it is important to choose the correct one. Some grass varieties may grow well in sandy soils while others require rich, dark earth. The amount of sunlight or shade in the planting area may also determine which seed to use. Once the correct grass variety is chosen, the seeds must be planted at the proper time to protect them from frost. A warm-season grass should be planted in early spring while cool-season varieties must be planted in early fall.


Successful grass seed germination usually begins with adequate soil preparation. The soil in the planting area must be aerated with a shovel or rotary tiller before sowing any seed. A compost material should be applied to the surface of the soil before it is aerated. This will provide additional nutrients for the seed as the ground is broken up. Enriching and aerating the soil provides a soft, fertile environment for the grass seed to take root.

The seed must be evenly distributed over the planting area at the exact rate recommended on the package. The best way to accomplish an even seed distribution is through the use of a spreader. This device is available in a hand-held model for small areas or a wheeled version for large plantings. The spread rate of this device can be easily adjusted for a particular seed type. A steady pace must be maintained when using a hand-held spreader to avoid applying too much seed in one area.

Successful grass seed germination also requires a consistent level of moisture in the soil. Grass seeds need a constant source of moisture to open up and sprout. The planting area should be lightly watered throughout the day to keep the soil from drying out. Watering should always be done during the daylight hours to inhibit the growth of seed-killing fungi. Applying a layer of straw or compost on top of the soil may help to prevent moisture loss in sunny locations.

After the seeds have germinated, the planting area must be left alone for a period of time. This will allow the tender vegetation to fully establish itself. Warm-season varieties typically require an establishment period of up to 90 days before using the area. Most cool-season varieties can be walked on after only 30 days. It is generally safe to mow new grass after the establishment period is over.



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