How to pre-germinate grass seed

Updated February 08, 2018

Grass seeds require water, oxygen, air and sunlight to germinate and start growing. Pre-germinating grass seed before planting it will enable quick growth, filling in the lawn as soon as it is planted. Pre-germinating grass seed enables the seeds to crack open and start growing before they are in the lawn so that the waiting time to observe the new grass is very short. Grass seeds can pre-germinate in cool conditions to get a jump-start on a new lawn in the spring.

Rinse a dustbin with water to clean it and fill it half full of water. Place outside in an area that receives full sun for most of the day.

Place an aquarium air pump outlet inside the dustbin to circulate air into the water. Place a brick on top of the air pump to hold it down in the bottom of the dustbin. The air pump keeps the water flowing so that the seeds do not rot.

Pour grass seeds into the dustbin and mix with a long spoon until all of the seeds are thoroughly wet. The seeds should move in the water from the air pump circulation.

Check the seeds daily and stir them once a day with a long spoon. This process of pre-germination will take five to 30 days depending on the type of grass seed. When the seeds are swollen and cracking they are ready to plant.

Dip a pot into the water and pour the seed and water mixture through an old pair of pantyhose to drain the water. Let the seeds dry thoroughly to plant with a broadcaster. Hand planting is possible with damp seeds.


Do not add more seeds than the air pump can circulate or they will rot instead of germinating. The seeds should float on the top of the water and move in the dustbin. To pre-germinate grass seeds in the winter, place a light over the dustbin in an enclosed area like a garage so that they receive sufficient light and warmth to germinate.

Things You'll Need

  • Dustbin
  • Aquarium air pump
  • Grass seeds
  • Pot
  • Pantyhose
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About the Author

Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.