How do I speed up grass seed germination?

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Getting grass seed to grow requires the proper conditions for seed germination, time and patience. Grass seed requires soil, water, warm temperatures and nutrients in order to germinate. Some grass types, such as Kentucky bluegrass, germinate more slowly than others, such as ryegrass. Choose the right type of grass for your region to ensure good germination and establishment of grass seed. Try pre-germinating your grass seed for speedier germination.

Prepare the ground carefully. Soil should be tilled to a depth of 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches) and broken up to a fine consistency. Remove all debris, rocks and weeds that could prevent good contact with soil. Condition the soil by adding amendments such as compost, peat moss or vermiculite for good drainage. Add a good starter fertiliser with a ratio such as 1-2-1 nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium composition, according to All About Lawns. Work this into the top few inches of soil. Soil testing is recommended to determine what additional nutrients should be added or if soil pH needs alteration. You can get soil testing kits from your local garden centre.

Rake the soil to an even level throughout. An even surface keeps the seed in contact with soil for quicker germination and better rooting.

Pre-germinate the grass seed. According to the North Dakota State University Agricultural Extension, pre-germination allows grass seed to absorb water to help it swell and germinate before you place into the prepared soil. Turfgrass contractors often pre-germinate when hydroseeding lawns, which is the spraying of a grass seed and water mixture over an area to be seeded. You can pre-germinate grass seed yourself by placing the seed in a bucket with a moist compost mixture for three to four days. You will notice that the seed swells and produces a small, white growth. You need to dry the seeds a bit so you can broadcast them. Spread them out on a concrete floor and allow to dry for 12 hours. You can then begin planting the pre-germinated seed on your lawn area. Make sure you plant within 24 hours.

Spread the pre-germinated seed over the prepared soil. Make sure seeds are in good contact with soil surface, as this is important for rooting and establishment.

Cover seeds with a very light mulch of compost or straw, according to Do not cover thickly because grass seed needs exposure to sunlight.

Water the pre-germinated seeds frequently. Lightly spray three to four times per day for three to four weeks. The pre-germinated seeds will be evident in three to four days and it is important to keep them moist to allow rooting.

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