What to do if grass seed doesn’t grow

Homeowners take different steps to grow grass seed in their lawns. If you have planted grass seed in your compound and it is not growing, you are not alone.

This is a common problem that some people experience. Some of the reasons why grass seed does not grow include insufficient sunlight, very high or low soil pH, hard soil, cold air, inadequate water supply, using weed control products, or planting the seed incorrectly. Here is more!

Why grass seed is not growing

Lack of enough sunlight

The grass is a form of plant that needs specific requirements for it to grow and germinate. One of the crucial things that it needs is sunlight. If your lawn is not receiving enough sunlight, the grass can take a very long time to grow.

You should ensure that you plant grass seed in an area that receives a few hours of direct sunlight every day. Sunlight is essential in grass seed since it enables photosynthesis. If your lawn is in a shady place and you still want to plant grass seed on it, choose the type known to grow in such conditions. Most shaded areas often have low soil pH, which is not very conducive for growing grass seed.

Hard soil

Have you planted grass seed on hard soil? If yes, this can also prevent it from growing. Hard soil is often compacted due to heavy traffic. Since such soil may not get enough water, it can prevent grass seed from germinating. Compacted soil also lacks access to enough air.

You should avoid planting grass seed on soil that has a lot of clay content. Before planting grass seed, you should take some time to prepare it. Get rid of any dead grass or thatch on it. If you wish to grow grass seed on a huge piece of land, you should consider renting a motorized machine for this task.

You skipped testing the soil

Before you decide to plant grass seed on a lawn, you should test the soil. When the soil pH is less than 6.0, it can make it hard for grass seed to grow. Grass seed can also not grow in soil with a very low pH. You can get a test kit online and then send the soil sample to a lab for analysis.

Once you test the soil, the results can help you figure out what your soil has and what it may be lacking before you start planting grass seed on it. It can also help you figure out if you should amend the soil with sulfur or lime for proper grass balance.

Inadequate water supply

For grass seed to germinate, it needs enough water. Overwatering the grass seeds is also not advisable since this can hinder germination. This tends to drown grass seeds and make them float on the surface rather than taking root in the soil.

Soil temperatures and cold air

These two can also make it hard for grass seed to grow based on the grass seed type you choose to grow. Most types of grass seed need a soil temperature of above 55 degrees F. Most types of grass seeds do well in warmer soil temperatures. Too much cold can inhibit the germination of grass seeds.

Planting grass seed incorrectly

When you get plant seed, there is a certain procedure that you should follow during planting. Not following the guidelines can prevent the grass from growing as expected. Ensure that you check the label that comes with the grass seed before planting. There should be adequate surface area contact between the soil and the grass seed for grass to thrive.  You should spread the grass seed well on the ground during planting and cover it lightly with mulch. This can protect it and keep the grass seed moist.

Using weed control products

Though some products can prevent the lawn from developing weeds, they can also prevent grass growth on a property. Avoid using any pre-emergent weed treatment at least three months before planting grass seed. Before you buy a weed control product, go through the label.

A summary of the causes and solutions

Why grass seed is not growing
What to do
Insufficient sunlight
Plant grass seed in a place that has enough sunlight
Hard soil
Avoid planting grass seed on hard soil
Incorrect soil pH
Test the soil before planting and add soil food to create a suitable environment for the grass seed to grow
Inadequate water supply
Water the grass seed
Planting seeds incorrectly
Do not plant grass seed too shallow or too deep.
Using weed control products
Do not use weed treatment close to when you want to plant grass seed.


Have you noticed grass growing in all the wrong places and not in your lawn? You should find out what could be causing this. Assess the causes above and make the necessary changes for it to start growing on the lawn.


Can traffic affect how grass seed grows in a lawn?

Yes. You should avoid too much traffic in a newly seeded area. Keep people away from the lawn until the grass is established.

When should you apply lime?

You can do this when the soil requires higher pH.

William Smith

William Smith has been rendering his services to a botanical garden for the better part of his adult life and has recently moved to landscaping firms. His love for gardens has been nurtured since he was a kid, evident from the various garden centers and estates that have benefited from his services. Smith is a natural when it comes to gardening and when combined with his acquired degree in landscape design, you can expect a high-quality professional job, thanks to his experience and expertise. During his free time, Smith does gardening as a hobby and runs forums where he offers expert ideas on gardening.

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