Finding the right grass seed It is soon time to begin thinking about purchasing grass seed for fall lawn seeding projects. If you walk into most places that sell grass seed, you might think there How to Grow Grass Fast There’s no secret trick to get grass to grow overnight, but here are the top tips to get your grass to grow in thick and lush as fast as it can. If you wish your lawn
Finding the right grass seed
It is soon time to begin thinking about purchasing grass seed for fall lawn seeding projects. If you walk into most places that sell grass seed, you might think there are only two options: Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass. These grasses can do well depending on the environment in which they are used. In the last several years, we have conducted research on turfgrasses for low-input lawns in Minnesota (Developing Fine Fescues for Low Input Lawns). These grasses, primarily the fine fescue species, require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides than a higher input grass such as Kentucky bluegrass, and they can be maintained with less mowing.
Whenever I give a talk on lower-input turfgrass options for homeowners, the first questions I receive afterwards go something like this: “Where can I get these grasses?” There are a few places to find fine fescues, or mixtures with high percentages of fine fescues. I have noticed some availability in big-box retailers; however, selection is quite limited. The best places to find the fine fescues are local greenhouses and farm co-ops. Some local seed sales companies have also been selling these products at smaller retail outlets such as hardware stores. During the next few weeks, we will be updating the new Purchasing Turfgrass Seed page with information on where to purchase high quality grass seed for home lawns in Minnesota.
A few things to keep in mind when shopping for grass seed:
1. You get what you pay for. Low-cost seed results in a poor lawn. Grasses that make better lawns are almost always more expensive. This is because these grasses have lower seed production potential than the lower-quality grasses; lower seed yields on a seed farm result in higher prices for consumers. A popular way to sell some of this low-cost seed is in a bulk bin. I have yet to see a high quality grass seed product sold in a bulk bin. A lawn should last several years, so a small increase in cost during establishment will pay off in the end.
2. Make sure you are paying for grass seed. When you buy a bag of seed, it contains much more than grass seed. The bag contains inert material (chaff, dust, etc.), weed seeds, seed that won’t germinate, and other crop seed. Additionally, several companies are now mixing high percentages of germination and establishment aids in with the seed. These additives can help during establishment, however, when present, they leave little room in the bag for actual seed. If you want to buy grass seed, make sure you are buying grass seed.
3. Decide which species you will use. This is very important. Some grasses do well in sun, some in shade, and some can thrive in both. Some grasses require moderate amounts of nitrogen fertilizer, some very little. Grass is often sold as a mixture of different species, which will allow you to select a combination of species that will fit the needs for your site. For more information on grass species for Minnesota, you can view this video from our Virtual Field Day: Turfgrasses for Minnesota Lawns.
4. Consult local data. Once you have decided which grass species to use, you can look up variety performance on our cultivars evaluation webpage (Cultivar Evaluation Results). If we don’t have the data you are looking for, check out the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP).
5. Look for variety names. Seed is sometimes sold as ‘variety not stated’. You should not purchase this type of seed, though you may be tempted to based on a reduced price. On the seed label, each grass species that is in the bag will be listed on a separate line. Along with the species there will be a variety name, or it will say ‘variety not stated’. Be sure you always see a variety name that goes along with each component of the mixture you are purchasing.
6. Avoid the dogs. There are a few grasses that are commonly mixed in home lawn mixtures due to their low cost. A few that you should look out for are ‘Linn’ perennial ryegrass, ‘Nui’ perennial ryegrass, annual ryegrass, Italian ryegrass, and ‘common creeper’. All of these will result in very poor turf. Annual ryegrass is often included in quick repair mixtures; I doubt very few purchasers of these mixes really hope to have an annual lawn. In Minnesota, you should also avoid using rough bluegrass (Poa trivialis), unless your site is shady and very moist.
Of course, finding and purchasing the best seed is only a first step. For more information on establishing a new lawn or converting an existing lawn to a new species, check out these resources:
How to Grow Grass Fast
There’s no secret trick to get grass to grow overnight, but here are the top tips to get your grass to grow in thick and lush as fast as it can.
If you wish your lawn would spring up thick, green, and vibrant overnight, you’re not alone, but there’s simply no secret method of ultra-accelerating grass growth. However, by following a proper process, you can minimize the time it takes to establish your lawn. Choosing the optimal grass type and planting at the ideal time go a long way toward getting the lawn you want.
Whether you choose seed or sod, This Old House has all the tips right here for you. Read on to discover how to grow grass as fast as you can.
To maintain your lawn, we recommend hiring a lawn care company like TruGreen to handle your routine fertilization, weed control, and more. To get a free quote, call 1-866-817-2287 or fill out this simple form.
How Do You Grow Grass Fast?
The best way to grow grass fast is to plant the best grass seed for your climate and follow the necessary steps. An even faster—but more expensive—option is to lay down sod, which is grass that’s already grown.
Determining Your Grass Type
Understanding your grass type is a crucial, fundamental step in the grass growing process. To get the best, fastest grass growth, you need to pick the ideal grass for your local climate—whether it’s a cool-season grass, warm-season grass, or a transitional grass type. It’s important to make the correct choice, or you may see your grass grow quickly, then falter, then fail.
Warm-season grasses grow best in regions with hot summers and mild winters, including the Deep South and Southeast. In general, warm-season grasses have vigorous growth from mid-to-late spring through early fall and go dormant in the winter. Their ideal growing temperature is between roughly 80 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The best time to plant warm-season grasses is between late spring and summer.
The fastest-growing warm season grasses include:
- Bermuda grass: This grass type germinates in as little as seven to 10 days.
- Buffalo grass: This variety takes two weeks to 30 days to germinate.
- Centipede grass: This type of grass will germinate in 14 to 21 days.
Cool-season grasses’ active growth periods are during early spring and early fall. They grow best in areas like the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, and Upper Midwest. These grasses are usually green in the winter and turn brown in the summer. Their ideal growing temperature is about 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The best time to plant cool-season grasses is during the fall, about 45 days before the estimated first frost, or in spring.
The fastest-growing cool season grasses include:
- Perennial and annual ryegrass: Both germinate in just seven to 10 days.
- Tall fescue: This grass type germinates in 10 to 14 days.
- Kentucky bluegrass: It typically takes two to four weeks for Kentucky bluegrass to germinate.
If you live in a transitional zone, you’re in luck. Both warm-season grasses and cool-season grasses will grow in your region. Plant a warm-season grass first, and overseed it with cool-season grass.
How to Plant Grass Seed
There are several options for planting grass seed. You may look into hydroseeding—an efficient planting process that involves spraying a slurry of grass seed, fertilizer, water, mulch, and wood fiber through a high pressure hose. Because of the built-in fertilizer, hydroseeding helps your grass grow quickly.
If you opt not to hydroseed, whether you think it’s too difficult to DIY or don’t want to pay to hire a professional, you can plant seed the old fashioned way.
- Test the soil: Always test your soil first. You want to make sure it’s set for optimum grass growth—proper drainage and full of the right nutrients.
- Prep the soil: Be sure to remove any and all debris, including stones and wood. Scratch the soil with a rake and dig about six inches down with a spade to get rid of any roots. Till your soil either by hand or with a rototiller, then mix amendments, mulch, or compost into it. Smooth the area out to make it level, breaking up any clumps.
- Sow the seed: You’ll need a spreader to ensure uniform growth. Use a broadcast spreader or drop spreader for large areas, and a hand spreader in smaller ones. Once you’ve set your spreader to the recommended rate, fill it up with just half of the seeds. Cross once in one direction, and again in the opposite direction. The crisscross pattern will help with uniformity.
- Topdress the soil: Place peat moss over your soil to lock in moisture. This layer can also prevent seeds from washing away in a heavy rain and protect them from any pesky birds.
- Fertilize the soil: Apply a thin layer of starter fertilizer before covering and tamping the soil. Starter fertilizers are low in nitrogen, which is key because too much nitrogen can encourage the growth of weeds that could compete with your new grass.
- Water your lawn: Newly seeded lawns need plenty of moisture to allow the seeds to germinate. Watering just once or twice a week won’t cut it in the early stages. Instead, you’ll either need to take a mister and gently spray the area or run a sprinkler at a low setting two or three times a day for five to 10 minutes for the first week or so. When the grass grows high enough that you can mow the lawn, water your lawn 1 to 1.5 inches per week, so that the soil is moist but not soggy. Always be sure to water your lawn before 10 a.m., or between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
- Mow the grass: Once the grass reaches 3 to 4 inches, it’s time for the first mow.
Sod is, without a doubt, your fastest way to an established lawn. Why? Well, it’s already grown. Having sod installed is essentially rolling out an automatic lawn. However, it’s expensive and takes a fair amount of work. You have to install sod as soon as you get it, because it begins to spoil quickly on the pallet. It has to be kept moist while you lay it down piece by piece, making sure it’s smooth and has no gaps.