Germination is the growth of a seed into a full-grown plant. Growing grass from seed for a lawn or as ground cover gives you more variety than trying to establish the grass from sod. Germinating grass seed requires providing all of the environmental conditions that a grass seed prefers.
When to Seed
The best time to seed a lawn is between August 15 and September 30, according to the Iowa State University Extension. Fall planting is more effective than the spring or summer because the soil is warmed from the summer, but the bright, hot light of summer will not ruin the grass seed. The cool nights and warm days eliminate a lot of weed competition.
Turf requires a university provided soil test or a store bought pH test that tests the nutrient content of the soil and the pH level. Amendments to the soil should be added and allowed to take effect before planting the grass seed. All large rocks and debris require removal from the area. Lime is added to soils that are acidic to raise the soil pH, while sulfur is added to lower the soil pH. The soil is tilled to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Fertilizer is added to the soil and tilled in, says Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Seeding the grass requires knowing the variety. Grass varieties differ in their application rate, with some being spread across the lawn at several pounds per 1,000 square feet, while others only require a pound. Grass seed is spread across the lawn using a broadcast or drop spreader.
For germination, the grass seed needs proper irrigation. Grass seed requires daily irrigation for 30 days after planting the seed to keep the soil moist. The water activates the germination process. Watering lightly is often necessary during hot days to catch up with evaporation.
As the grass bursts forth from the seed, grass begins spreading itself out by using tillers or surface runners horizontally, sometimes using rhizome roots to establish itself. As the roots spread, the grass grows stronger.