Anyone who takes the trouble of sowing a lawn can usually hardly wait until the first green blades finally sprout. The longer the wait, until finally a closed lawn is created. We explain which methods accelerate the growth of your lawn and effectively shorten the unloved waiting time.
Perfect conditions for optimal germination
Before considering how to accelerate the growth of lawns by speeding up germination, it is worth remembering what a lawn seed generally needs in order to germinate. If this process is to be accelerated, it is precisely these factors that can be addressed and potential for improvement sought. The essential aspects of successful germination are:
- Soil temperature of at least 10 degrees Celsius
- High air or soil moisture
- Availability of oxygen (especially after formation of first rootlets)
NOTE: A good supply of nutrients is not one of the prerequisites for actual germination. Since the seed initially draws its energy from the stored starch reservoirs, external nutrients are not absorbed anyway. Only after germination and formation of the first roots does the lawn switch its supply to the externally available energy sources from soil and, if necessary, starter fertilizer.
Ways to rapid germination
If an optimal framework, i.e. sufficient air, heat and moisture, is already available, the speed of the first growth in the form of germination cannot be additionally increased. However, even without prophetic abilities, one can foresee that hardly any germination phase proceeds without one or another aspect being temporarily outside the optimal range.
Both the required humidity and consistent temperatures above 10 degrees are virtually impossible to maintain consistently. Weather, solar radiation and precipitation levels fluctuate too much. So it is precisely these deviations from the desired target where every amateur gardener has a real chance to positively influence the germination period of the lawn by taking the following measures:
The simplest and at the same time most effective way of accelerating germination is a light-permeable, but moisture- and wind-proof covering made of foil. It creates a kind of greenhouse climate in the underlying layer of air and soil, which significantly improves the elementary needs of seeds:
- Protection from desiccation by evaporation
- Increase in temperature due to the standing layer of air between the film and the soil
- air layer between film and soil
- More even soil temperature due to protection from nighttime chilling
Which film to choose?
The specialized trade offers special growth films for covering a lawn seed. These are UV-permeable and at the same time perforated so that a minimum air exchange is ensured. On the other hand, most of the moisture is specifically retained under the film in the area of the seed. Alternatively, you can also use any “normal” plastic film. However, it should be mandatory transparent, so as not to retain sunlight. The lack of perforation in standard films is irrelevant during the actual germination. However, when using these materials, care should be taken not to leave the cover in place for too long, so as not to interrupt the oxygen supply after root formation.
How to cover?
After the grass has been sown, the area should be watered intensively. Then the film is laid flat on the soil and overlapped by about thirty centimeters in the joint area of the strips. This ensures that no partial areas of the lawn are covered in the event of wind or rain and later become apparent due to washed-out or poorly germinated seeds.
At points, the film strips should be secured in position by stones or boards so that they are not blown away by wind or float away by precipitation. As soon as the first roots appear, the film should be removed so as not to impede the circulation of oxygen. In order to recognize the right time, it is worthwhile to regularly look under the tarp.
By the way, besides faster germination, a temporary foil cover has other positive effects on lawn growth.
- No washing away of seeds during heavy rains
- Prevention of bird predation
- Hardly any accidental trespassing due to the signal effect of the foil
- Pre-sprouting of lawn seeds
Another alternative to accelerate lawn growth after sowing is to pre-sprout the seeds. However, this measure is quite costly, so that it is hardly practical to implement it when newly planting entire lawns. When reseeding partial areas, however, existing gaps can be closed quickly and safely in this way.
CAUTION: Pre-sprouting is ultimately not a genuine acceleration of germination. Instead, the germination process is brought forward and largely completed before sowing at the desired location. In the end, however, this also results in faster lawn growth in the garden, so that areas shine green again sooner and can, of course, be walked on and played on.
How is pre-sprouting done?
To pre-germinate lawn seeds, they are provided with an atmosphere conducive to germination in a protected environment. Once again, the factors of heat, humidity and air, which have already been mentioned several times, are involved. The step-by-step procedure is as follows:
- Lay out paper towel or other absorbent pad on a waterproof surface.
- Wet the paper towel with water until the absorption capacity is reached.
- Spread the seeds out over a large area on the paper without overlaying them.
- Choose a suitable, warm location, for example on the windowsill or (in the case of underfloor heating) on the floor.
Avoid strong drafts
Regularly check the moisture of the carrier paper and top up if there are signs of drying out, ideally use a spray bottle to prevent the seeds from being washed away.
When the first roots appear, sow seeds at the final growth site to ensure nutrient supply via roots.
TIP: In addition, pre-sprouting can be further improved if the seed is covered with a transparent film. Then a somewhat cooler location, such as in the study or conservatory, can also be grown. The whole thing works well, for example, with a baking tray on which the kitchen paper is laid out. The tray catches excess water, while the edge of the tray is good for stretching cling film over it.
A way to fast lawn growth?
It was already mentioned at the beginning that the seed makes use of its own energy reserves during the germination process and only resorts to external supplies after the formation of the first roots, i.e. after successful germination. In this respect, soil preparation with a starter fertilizer is not one of the measures for accelerated germination. However, it enables an uninterrupted and, above all, fully comprehensive supply of nutrients directly following the germination process, so that start fertilizer cannot additionally accelerate optimum turf growth overall, but in practice it can definitely increase the pace towards exploitation of the speed-related possibilities.
Speeding up by avoiding mistakes
Another way to speed up turf germination is to recognize and avoid mistakes. Although this does not increase the speed of germination, it does eliminate slowing factors, so the effect that occurs is the same. These mistakes are made over and over again, but should be specifically prevented for optimal germination:
Uneven lawn surface: reduced germination rate due to puddles on the lawn surface and thus seeds lying in water.
Uneven watering, resulting in temporary drying of soil and seeds and subsequent stop of the germination process
Too early sowing, due to nightly low temperatures and frost germination stop, as a result overall later and worse germination, than with later sowing
Seeds not rolled in, thus poor contact with soil and soil moisture, resulting in too rapid drying out
I have 30 years of experience and i started this website to see if i could try and share my knowledge to help you.
With a degree a Horticulture BSc (Hons)
I have worked as a horticulture specialist lead gardener, garden landscaper, and of course i am a hobby gardener at home in my own garden.
Please if you have any questions leave them on the article and i will get back to you personally.