Why Is My Grass Not Growing?

Summer is a time for fun in the sun, barbecues with family and friends, and lounging in the yard. But if your lawn is looking brown and patchy, you may be wondering what’s wrong.

No one wants a dead, patchy lawn. If your grass is not growing, it can be frustrating. You may not know what to do to make it start growing again. Don’t worry – we’re here to help!

Before you start to panic, we’ll explain in this post some common causes of poor lawn growth, and once you know what’s causing the problem, you can take steps to correct it and get your lawn looking lush and green again. So, read on for information about the most common causes of lawn growth problems and how to solve them!

Planting Grass Seed

Grass seed is a collection of seeds that, once planted in the ground and nurtured, will germinate into grass. You may buy it in bulk; it typically comes in a big bag with tiny seeds that are approximately 1 cm across and resemble small grains.

When planting grass seed, there are two methods you can use, called reseeding and overseeding.

Reseeding your lawn is the process of sowing new grass seed in an abandoned lawn or a lawn that has thinned out, or if you want to replace your lawn grass with a new grass type.

Overseeding your lawn is the practice of putting new seed on a lawn that already exists. This technique helps to fill in gaps, thicken up the grass, and improve the general health of your yard.

Grass Seed Germination

Germination is when a dormant seed becomes a seedling. It’s the first and most essential step in plant development, since it influences how long the plant will live and produce offspring.

The seedling goes through biochemical, physiological, and morphological changes during the germination process, all of which influence the plant’s vegetative yield and quality.

The process of germination begins with imbibition, a term that refers to the seed’s absorption of water. As the seed’s enzymes and food supplies grow and hydrate as a result of water stimulation, its development progresses. The activation procedure for water imbibition allows the seed to enhance its metabolic activities, allowing it to create energy throughout its growth.

The second stage occurs when the seed is fully hydrated. Early in the metabolic reactivation stage, the seed goes through an anaerobic stage before transitioning to aerobic as oxygen enters the seed.

Then the seed grows a root (called a radicle protrusion) to tap into the water underground before shooting upwards towards the sun to begin photomorphogenesis.

Germination Rates

The percentage of seeds that germinate over a given time is known as the germination rate. It’s usually expressed as a percentage. For example, a 70% germination rate indicates that 7 out of 10 seeds will germinate in ideal circumstances. Anything above a 50% success rate is typically considered good.

If you want to figure out the germination rates of the grass seeds you have, try out this experiment:

First, obtain a filter paper and petri dish. If they aren’t available, use a paper towel and a tiny transparent plastic bag instead. Soak the grass seeds in water for around 1 hour, and then place them on the paper towel or filter paper. Then, apply about 10 ml of water to them and then leave them in a shaded place. Record the number of seeds that germinate over the next one to two weeks.

You should know the germination rates of the seeds you are planting, which will tell you how thick and carpet-like your lawn will be. You should also learn how long your seeds will take to germinate, as it might take longer than you think. Your healthy green grass might be just around the corner!

Common Reasons Why Your Grass Seed Is Not Growing

Here are some reasons why your grass seed might not be growing.

Not Enough Sunlight

One of the main reasons why your grass seed is not growing is because it’s not getting enough sunlight. Grass needs a lot of sunlight to grow, and if it’s not getting at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, then it’s unlikely to germinate.

You can try to move your seedlings to a sunnier spot, or you can try to grow them under grow lights. This is also a good reason not to plant your grass seeds too late in the fall or too early in the spring, because there will not be enough sunlight per day.

Watering: Too Much or Too Little

Water is essential for the growth of your grass. However, both too much water and too little water can have negative effects for your lawn. If you provide too little water, your grass will not be able to germinate and grow. Water is the first necessary step for seed germination, with too little of it the rest of the steps cannot occur.

However, if there is too much water, the seeds may wash away before they can be planted and incorporated into the soil. If your prediction calls for a number of days with significant rainfall, don’t try to grow grass seed during that time period.

Time of Year

The season in which you plant your grass seed is paramount to its success. For one thing you don’t ever want to plant seeds in the winter time. The height of summer is also not a good time, as this can burn the seeds.

Spring and fall are the two best seasons for growing grass. If you have a cool-season grass, then fall is the best time to plant it, with spring being the second best time. If you have a warm-season grass, the only time you should plant it is in the spring.

It’s Too Cold

Unless you’re in a tropical location in which the ground never freezes all year round, you should never plant grass in the winter. This is because it’s simply too cold. Frozen soil is not effective at growing grass seed. Firstly, it’s physically too hard to penetrate with a tiller or shovel.

Secondly, the frozen ground does not allow water or nutrients to flow within it, so your grass will not get any of the ingredients it needs to grow and survive. The winter time is also much darker and has less precipitation.

You don’t want to plant seeds even in the spring or fall if you think a frost could occur in the next few weeks. See here for the effects of frost on grass.

Compact Soil

Planting grass seed on hard dirt is a difficult task, so if your grass seed isn’t growing it could be because the soil is too compacted.

Soil that has been compacted is tightly packed with closely pressed particles that prevent water, air, and nutrients from entering the soil, making it less likely to sustain plant or grass life.

Soil pH Level

The pH level of your soil is also important for the growth of your grass. The ideal pH range for most types of grass is around 6.5, but anywhere between 6 and 7 is alright. If your soil is too acidic or too alkaline, it will be difficult for your grass to grow.

A low pH indicates that the soil in your yard is acidic. As a result, essential elements such as phosphorus are less accessible, while useless or hazardous nutrients may accumulate and become dangerous. Additionally, bacteria that are beneficial to your garden cannot grow in acidic soil.

However, you don’t want soil that’s too alkaline (or basic). Soil that is too basic is unable to obtain access to crucial macro and micronutrients like iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Test your soil pH level if you’re worried it could be outside the healthy range.

Seeds Buried too Deep

You should avoid planting your seeds too deep or too shallow. Firstly, don’t just leave the seeds on top of the ground. There should be adequate surface area contact between the seed and the soil for your new seedlings to germinate and grow. If it’s not buried at least a bit into the soil, your grass seed could be stolen by birds or squirrels, and it won’t get the minerals and nutrients from the soil.

However you don’t want to plant it too deep either. If you do this, sunlight will not penetrate deep enough to reach the seed, so it can’t germinate.

As long as you loosen the soil a bit beforehand, most grass seed will sprout if planted directly on the earth and lightly covered with some type of mulch to protect it and keep it moist.

Expired Grass Seed

If your grass seed is expired, it might not be viable anymore and won’t germinate. Check the date on your seed packet before planting to ensure that the seed is still fresh.

When it comes to using old grass seed, the general guideline is that it can be kept for approximately two to three years and still be viable. However, grass seed that is less than a year old is optimal, as grass seed annually loses about 10% of its efficacy.

Too Much Grass Seed

Spreading too much grass seed in one go is a common beginner’s mistake. When you spread too much grass seed, the main problem is that the seeds will be competing with each other for space, water, and nutrients, which will result in a smaller number of seeds actually germinating.

Too Little Grass Seed

If you don’t spread enough grass seed, your lawn will be patchy and full of bare spots. This is because the grass seeds will be too far apart from each other to germinate properly.

Additionally, if you don’t use enough seed, the individual blades of grass will be weaker and more susceptible to disease and pests. This could lead to your whole lawn dying.

Species of Grass Seed

You need to choose the right species of grass for your lawn in order for it to grow successfully. For example, warm-season grasses, such as Zoysia Grass, Buffalo Grass, Bermuda Grass, or St. Augustine Grass, need high soil and air temperatures to germinate and to grow to their full potential, whereas cool-season grasses like Ryegrass, Fescue, Bluegrass, and Bentgrass, can die in those same conditions.


Often people use a non-selective herbicide to remove their old lawn grass before planting a new one. This is fine to do, but you need to be careful if you go this route. If you start to spread your seed less than a month after you’ve used the herbicide, it could still be active and kill off all of your grass before it has a chance to grow.

Foot Traffic

When you have a lot of foot traffic on your lawn, it can compact the soil and make it difficult for new grass to germinate and grow. This is because compacted soil doesn’t hold water or air as well as loose soil, which means that the roots of your grass won’t be able to get the oxygen and water they need.

Additionally, if there is a lot of foot traffic on your lawn as your grass seed is germinating, it can disturb, shift, or harm the grass seed enough to stop it from fully growing.


To germinate correctly and grow to be healthy and lush, your grass seed needs to be in contact with your soil, and the correct and consistent amounts of moisture, sunlight, and warmth. Here are some ways you can ensure that will happen.

Prepare Your Soil

The correct PH levels in soil are important for ensuring that your lawn receives the necessary chemicals to thrive. The soil’s pH level has an impact on a variety of factors that influence plant growth, such as soil bacteria, soil structure, nutrient availability, and nutrient leaching.

You should also till and aerate your soil before planting grass seed. This will help to loosen up the soil, which will in turn make it easier for the roots of your grass to grow and allow water and air to reach them; it will also mix around the nutrients and create more healthy soil overall. A soil conditioner or fertilizer can also work at this time.

Sow the Right Amount of Grass Seed

In order to not over-saturate or under-seed your lawn, you want to aim for approximately 50 grams of grass seed per square meter of lawn if you are reseeding it from scratch, or 35 grams of grass seed per square meter if you are overseeding your lawn.


Grass grows best in sunlight. The tiny blades begin to utilize the sunshine to generate energy as soon as the grass seeds germinate, which leads to deep roots and lush leaves. Grass plants thrive well and fast if there is plenty of light, but they will grow slowly if there is too much shade.

Before planting grass seed, make sure your lawn and garden get at least 6 hours of direct sunshine each day. If that’s not possible, use a seed mix that thrives in shaded soil.

Choose the Correct Season

As we mentioned before, you need to choose the right species of grass for your region and climate. If you live in an area with warm summers and mild winters, then a warm-season grass is best for you. If you live in an area with cool summers and cold winters, then a cool-season grass would be a better choice.

For cool-season grasses, fall is the best time to plant seeds, with early spring being the second best time. If you want to plant warm-season grass seeds, do so in the mid-to-late spring.


The most important factor for grass seed germination and growth is moisture. The seed must be kept moist but not wet during the germination process, which takes about 10 to 14 days. To ensure that your seeds have enough moisture, water them regularly.

To ensure that your grass is getting the right amount of water, you should water it deeply but infrequently. Water your seed twice a day for the first few days after planting to keep the top inch of soil wet until the seeds germinate, and then water only once every day for approximately six weeks. If it rains on any of those days, you don’t have to water that day. Watering your lawn once a day for an hour or 1.5 hours would be enough.

Protect Your Grass

You don’t want your kids or pets running around all over the grass; nor do you want birds eating the seeds or squirrels stealing your grass seed. You can set up a mesh netting around the area you’ve planted to stop animals from getting to it, and put up string along the boundary to remind people not to walk on it.

In Conclusion

So, what can you do if your grass seed isn’t germinating or growing? If you are experiencing problems with your grass seed, there is a good chance that it is due to one of the reasons we have mentioned. By troubleshooting and identifying the issue, you can take corrective action and fix the problem.

No matter what the reason, there are solutions to help get your grass seed growing properly. If you have followed our guidelines and your grass still isn’t growing, it is time to call in a professional. A lawn care specialist will be able to diagnose the problem and provide you with a solution so that you can enjoy a green lawn all summer long.

We hope that this information has been helpful and provides you with the guidance you need to get your lawn looking its best. If you follow these tips, you should be able to grow a beautiful lawn without any problems!

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Written by Linda Chan
Linda Chan is a passionate gardener and writer with a background in horticulture and landscape design. She has over 10 years of experience working in the lawn care industry and has a deep understanding of the science and art of keeping a lawn healthy and beautiful.