How to Grow Grass from Seed
Grass exists almost world-wide and almost every species of grass can be propagated from seed. In modern civilization, preoccupation with grass was rooted in the desire to produce food in the form of enhanced seed grains, but in the modern urban environment, the cultivation of grasses is based in aesthetics, the desire for lush, decorative lawns around our homes.
The ordinary homeowner can grow grass from seed successfully by observing these basic concepts:
- Virtually any seed will grow if given a reasonable chance to do so.
- Grass seed, as any other seed, needs moisture and warmth to germinate and start growing.
- Once grass seed germinates, it requires water, nutrients, minimal protection, and warmth to survive and mature.
Bottom line, if you provide the right conditions, whether planting a new lawn, or attempting to repair or improve an existing lawn, you can be successful growing grass from seed. Use these basic steps:
Prepare the Soil:
Cultivate, rake, or loosen the soil. Import additional quality topsoil if required, level it, remove all trash from the surface and roll the surface smooth. Rake the surface lightly. Where grass has thinned and requires over-seeding–same process. Rake it lightly.
Choose the Right Seed:
Choose grass seed of a type that is suitable for your geographical location. All grasses do not perform well in every location. Determine which zone you live in and choose appropriate grasses or combinations of seed that are known to be successful in your area. Consult your local garden center experts for grass seed mixtures that perform exceptionally well in your immediate geographical location. Generally,
- In warm-season zones. For example, one might choose Bahia, Bermuda , Zoysia, or St. Augustine grasses that stay green in high heat conditions.
- In cool-season zones, Bluegrasses, Fescues, and Rye grasses are generally more suitable.
Each of these grass species displays different characteristics, so it is important to choose the right combination for your intended purpose.
- Seed uniformly and thickly. Use from 4-5 lbs. of fresh grass seed for each 1000 square feet of lawn.
- Seed across both ways, horizontally and vertically across the lawn for the best uniformity.
- Rake the seed in lightly, then roll the area with a water-filled roller. Rolling the surface packs the soil marginally, bringing the seed into contact with the soil.
Water the new seeding lightly and uniformly every day. Grass will emerge, or become visible, within as few as 5 days for some species, but may take as long as 3 weeks or longer for other grass types. Do not allow tender, newly emerged grasses to dry out. Worth repeating, water new seeding daily. Avoid over-watering, which can wash out seeding.
Re-seed any patches missed or thin once it becomes obvious that the majority of the planted grass has germinated and is growing.
Special Conditions and Considerations:
- If soil is poor quality or extremely sandy, it is a good idea to add organic material such as peat moss to the surface prior to seeding. Mix it in lightly by raking. Organic material holds moisture and if applied adequately, will help prevent the new grass roots drying out quickly when severe conditions are encountered.
- In anticipation of more severe conditions, seed as normal, but also mulch the surface lightly with chopped straw to protect new seeding from excessive heat or erosion by water.
- On steep slopes, install an open-weave ground fabric or light burlap and a thin layer of chopped straw over new seeding to prevent soil washing away. Pin the fabric in place as necessary.
- Theoretically, seed may be planted at any time, spring or fall if adequate care is taken, but early in the fall is nature’s best timing for optimal germination rates.
- Avoid seeding at the hottest, driest time of the year in any zone. If there is no choice, for extreme heat conditions, use a light layer of mulch over the seeding, and water daily- or more frequently if necessary to prevent drying, heat damage or total failure of new seeding.
- Never fertilize with rapid-release fertilizers until grass is well established. Excessive fertilizer can burn tender grass roots.
- Always protect new seeding and growth from compaction by traffic damage.
Following these basic concepts will allow you to grow seed from grass in almost any geographical location, just as Nature herself does. Go for it.