For homeowners who take pride in their lawn a common topic of interest is how long does it take for grass to grow. This varies by grass species as well as other factors. If you’re eager about having a lush yard you will want to read on to find the best type of grass to suit your home.
Grass seed can take anywhere from as little as 7 days up to 30 days to grow. A fully established lawn with no patches can be expected to take 6 to 8 weeks. This is under ideal conditions. Many variables come into play that can either help or hinder the growth of your lawn. Taking these into account when sowing your grass and proper lawn care will help to see the desired results from your grass.
A well-kept lawn has its appeal to homeowners for many reasons. It can present some beneficial qualities to property and the environment as well. Grass that is well planted and kept up helps to prevent flooding and erosion during periods of heavy rain. It can also help to keep the ground cool in areas prone to high heat.
Grass Tip : For a healthy lawn it’s important to never remove more than ⅓ of the grass blade. In addition, a higher grass cut will always be healthier, requiring longer gaps of time between lawn cuts. For example, if you want to maintain a 2″ lawn, make sure to cut your lawn at or before it gets to 3″ long. The ideal height for healthy grass is two to four inches.
Sod vs. Seed : What’s the Difference?
When you’re establishing a new lawn you will have one of two options – planting from seeds or sod. Each of these has its own advantages and disadvantages. Sod is pre-grown grass seed that has been professionally cared for. It is sold in rolls which are laid out above the soil like a rug. With sod professional installation is recommended as it needs to be rolled out carefully to minimize weeds. Grass seed is planted and grown yourself. This is the more cost-effective option as it’s considerably less expensive than sod. It will require some patience and care to determine how long does it take for grass to grow.
Cost difference aside, other considerations when choosing sod vs. seed include your landscape, and what region you live in. Sod is an ideal choice over seed if your landscape is sloped or prone to erosion. Seed has a much more difficult time growing under these conditions. Grass seed, on the other hand, has much more varieties to choose from. Grasses sold as sod are typically not very shade tolerant and come in limited species.
When choosing a grass seed you should read the label of the bag carefully. There are many grass blends that contain a mixture of seed varieties. These are generally a combination of similar grass species that will grow best to provide a uniform pattern.
How Long Does it Take for Grass to Grow?
The time it takes for grass to grow depends on the type of grass you’re referring to. It varies. In this section we’ll take a look at the specific time for the most popular grass species for warm and cold climates.
Types of Grass
To determine how long does it take for grass to grow you will need to understand the traits of various types of grass. Some grasses have a fast germination rate but grow slowly over time while other types take longer to germinate but spread quickly. Germination is the period of time it takes for the grass seed to sprout from the time it is sowed. The rate at which grass germinates will vary based on the type of grass seed in addition to soil and weather conditions. The ideal temperature for grass to germinate will depend on the species. For most types of grasses the best time for planting is generally in the spring when temperatures are mild.
Grass seed types are generally broken down into two categories – warm temperature grasses and cooler temperature grass. The temperatures of the region you live in will play a critical part in the growth and health of your lawn. Many homeowners like to use both types to ensure a lush green lawn all year-round. A lawn established with a grass seed or sod is generally adapted to thrive in that region. Overseeding is when you plant another grass into an existing lawn, generally when the primary lawn seed goes dormant.
Warm and cool grasses can be characterized as creeping or bunch grasses. Creeping grasses spread through runners that go above or below the ground. These types of grasses can become invasive if you have flower beds. You may need to put borders or create boundaries to keep the grass from invading areas you don’t want it in. Bunch grasses spread by the center of the plant or its crown. Bunch grasses can be more susceptible to damage from mowing if cut too close to the crown. Grass that is damaged will not grow as desired and may take a long time to recover. To minimize damaging your grass lawns consisting of bunch grasses should be cut on a higher setting.
Diagram : All the Ground Layers Beneath your Lawn
Warm Grasses —
Warm temperature grass species thrive in climates where temperatures reach 75-90 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months. It is ideal for southern regions and areas that get plenty of direct sunlight. These grass types provide a thick, dense cover. When the top soil temperature reaches below 64-degrees most warm-season grass species will go dormant during the cooler months.
Zoysia Grass / ZoysiaGrass (Zoysie japonica)
This species is a tough warm-season grass that is versatile and easy to maintain. It’s great at repelling weeds, stands up well to heavy traffic areas, and resistant to most common diseases. It also serves as an excellent grass type to combat soil erosion. It will tolerate periods of drought pretty well with a deep root system that conserves water. It tolerates shaded areas as well. Zoysia grass is a slow-growing grass. It is generally grown only from sod or plugs and has an average germination of 14 to 21 days. It needs ample time to establish a good solid root system before the season changes to survive through the first frost. The ideal time to plant Zoysia grass is in the spring once there is no longer any threat of frost.
Well known for its uniform growth this warm grass has an average germination rate of 14 days. It grows into a thick sod with a shallow root system and not very tolerant to long periods of drought. Proper irrigation is required when it is stressed during the summer months. Unlike other types of warm grasses, Centipede doesn’t really have a dormancy period. In mild climates it will remain green throughout the winter months. It does well in Southeastern regions with high annual rainfall and in acidic or sandy soils. Centipede grass will tolerate limited traffic and shade. Of all the warm grasses this grass one has the slowest growth rate. Once it is well established it requires minimal fertilizing and low maintenance.
This warm grass thrives in temperatures reaching 75-99 degrees with a dormancy period during the winter months. Bermuda grass is characterized as having relatively short blades that are gray-green in color and appear to have rough edges. It is one of the fastest growing warm-season grasses. Unlike many types of warm grasses it can be grown from seed and has an average germination rate of 15 days. It has a deep root system making it highly tolerable to periods of drought. Unlike Zoysia grass it can also tolerate heavy traffic. It thrives in areas with direct sunlight and good drainage. In regions that don’t see any frost it will remain green throughout the winter. It is more sensitive to cold temperatures but recovers well. The recommended cutting height is 1 inch to 1 ½ inches to maintain healthy growth.
Saint Augustine Grass
This type of lawn grass is characterized as having a blue-green color that is compact and dense. It tolerates various types of soil in warm climates with high temperatures between 80 to 100 degrees. This warm season grass is tolerant to salt as well, making it a very suitable choice in coastal regions. It’s also more tolerant to shaded areas than other types of warm grasses. Like most warm grasses it will go into dormancy during the cooler months so watering should be limited. St. Augustine grass is one of the most widely used grass types in the southern states. It is generally planted as plugs or sod. The recommended height it should be cut at is 3 to 4 inches for optimal growth.
This is a great warm-season grass for regions that are prone to periods of drought. In fact, it can tolerate nearly any watering conditions from prolonged dry periods to near-flooding. Kikuyu grass is classified as having a coarse texture and light green in color. It’s sometimes mistaken for St. Augustine grass. It tolerates foot traffic really well and thrives in direct sunlight. This grass type is very easy to maintain and grows quickly. The germination period is generally between 10 to 14 days. It can grow as much as an inch per day under ideal conditions. The cutting height recommended should be between 1 and 3 inches.
Cool Grasses —
How long does it take for grass to grow in regions prone to cooler temperatures? Your best bet for a beautiful lawn is to establish a cool season grass early in the spring. These types of grasses achieve most of their growing during the spring and into late fall. They thrive in areas with temperatures between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Most cool season grasses go dormant during the warmer months when temperatures get above 90-degrees. These grasses are generally sold as seed.
This grass type is a very popular choice of golf courses but has gained popularity by homeowners due to its characteristics. There are numerous species of Bentgrass, although Penncross Creeping Bentgrass is considered to be the better choice for home lawns. The cool season grass adapts to cool, humid environments. It will thrive in direct sunlight but is not suitable in regions with extreme heat. It needs to be planted in soil that is well-draining
This cool-season grass is a very common choice among homeowners in the Northern U.S. It has the hardiest tolerance to cold temperatures among the most common cool-season grasses. This creeping grass is dark green in color and characterized by its ability to spread rapidly. This grass type is also commonly mixed in with other types of lawns to fill in bare spots. It can tolerate mild to moderate traffic and drought with the ability to recover quickly from damage. It has a slower germination rate than other cool season grasses, ranging from 14 to 30 days.
This grass type is a subgroup of Fescue grasses characterized by its fine, narrow blades and gray-green in color. This grass is also known as shade grass for its ability to thrive in shaded areas. They grow rapidly with a germination rate of 7 to 14 days from planted. This grass is also highly tolerant to drought conditions. It is commonly used in grass seed mixes with other Fescues to adapt to sunny locations. The qualities of Fescue make it a really low-maintenance lawn grass. In fact, it’s known for having an attractive dune-effect when left unmowed.
This grass seed is commonly used across different regions throughout the U.S. Perennial Ryegrass offers one of the fastest germination rates under ideal conditions, typically around 8 days. It’s a very common type that is often mixed into lawns with other grasses for its fast growth rate and hardiness for bald spots and areas of high traffic. This grass is characterized as a bunch-type, meaning it is non-spreading. Due to its cold-tolerance, it is commonly used to overseed dormant lawns in Southern regions. Perennial Ryegrass will generally maintain its green color throughout the winter.
This cool grass is known for spreading quickly in shaded areas during cooler weather. It grows well under cool temperatures as well as areas with poor drainage. Rough bluegrass does not adapt well to heat and will turn brown in temperatures above 80-degrees Fahrenheit. It is not the most ideal grass type for lawns as it’s considered high maintenance, requiring a lot of watering. It can also be classified as a weed due to its lighter color and vigorous root system. When used in lawns with other grass types it tends to stand out in patches.
This species of fescue is a bunch-type grass that establishes well in the Transition zones. It is a really versatile type that can tolerate periods of drought and adapted to withstand heat. It is characterized as having a fine texture and dark green in color. The blades are a little wider than fine fescue. Tall fescue also tolerates medium to high traffic spots. Its deep root system helps to recover quickly from damage. Much like fine fescue, the characteristics of tall fescue produce a low maintenance grass that is easy to establish and can go up to a month in between mowing.
What factors determine how fast grass grows?
The biggest factor in how long does it take for grass to grow is planting it at the right time. Weather conditions play a critical role in the rate at which grass will grow. For cool season grasses that thrive in cooler temperatures, the ideal time for planting is early in the spring or fall. This allows the seeds to germinate under the ideal temperatures needed for a well established lawn before it gets too hot. With sod there is no germination period as it’s already sprouted, however spring and fall are the best times to roll it out.
Another contributing factor to a seed’s germination rate is the soil quality. You may need to test your soil’s pH level to properly prepare it before planting. Also check the label of the grass seed for soil quality recommendations. Supplementation may be necessary prior to sowing seeds or rolling out your sod to ensure it gets the nutrients needed to thrive.
Once you have seeded your soil proper care will aid in sufficient germination. Gently raking the soil after spreading your seeds and applying a thin layer of compost will ensure good seed-to-soil contact. This also helps maintain adequate moisture levels in the soil. Speaking of moisture, it’s also important to maintain watering during the germination period. You don’t want the ground over saturated, but you should also keep it sufficiently watered so the seeds don’t dry out.
If you want your lawn to continue to thrive and grow year after year it will need the right nutrition. Depending on your soil’s quality it may have sufficient nutrients to establish a healthy lawn. You can also use organic materials to supply nutrients such as composting leaves and grass clippings. In areas that are prone to having poor soil quality and nutrition, such as the southern regions, applying fertilizer to new grass is recommended. Without the proper nutrients your lawn could be susceptible to pests, diseases, grass thinning, erosion, and other potential problems.
For new lawns you want to get a starter fertilizer to help speed up the process on how long does it take for grass to grow.. A starter fertilizer is formulated differently from regular fertilizer. It usually consists mainly of phosphorus, a crucial nutrient for newly planted seed or sod to germinate and sprout.
Regardless of the type of grass you opt for or how much you maintain it there are some factors that can’t be helped. Environmental factors can hinder how fast grass grows so plan accordingly.
Additional Resources :
- Study : Lawn Grasses : International Journal of Horticulture, 2017, Vol.7
- Carolina Lawns: A Guide to Maintaining Quality Turf in the Landscape
- Factors Affecting Green Speed (Golf) : PennState Extension