Sometimes we forget that grass seed is a living thing, and it needs the right conditions to grow successfully – air, heat, light and water.
When growing conditions aren’t perfect, grass seed will fail to germinate. So, what could be preventing your grass seed from growing in summer, especially peak temperatures are more common between spring and autumn? There are three common reasons why this might be happening, and it all comes down to air, light and water!
Most lawns can suffer from drought during the summer months. And although hot UK weather is very welcome, it leaves your garden grass dry and yellowed. It also encourages weeds and moss to sprout while we relax and catch a few rays! Unfortunately, this leaves some lawns badly damaged.
Even though they have been overseeded – your lawn is still too dry from last year. In addition, a dry winter doesn't help things one bit!
What should you do if your lawn is always dry?
In dry weather conditions, we recommend that our customers double up on their watering (water your lawn twice a day). This is to help combat the unusual levels of heat and sunshine.
A quick test to see if your soil is moist enough for germination is to drive a screwdriver into the soil. If it can reach up to 6/7 inches deep you’re in luck – if it can’t, it needs a lot more water.
If your lawn is suffering from dry soil, there’s a good chance it is also suffering from compaction. Compaction happens when the soil is not getting watered whilst also receiving heavy traffic (lots of walking over it). This causes the soil to become hard and dry, and it is essentially suffocating.
Seeds require oxygen to germinate – this respiration breaks down the food stored within the seed.
This stored oxygen then provides the seed with the energy it needs to shoot up. If you have compacted soil, it's important to break it up before sowing. Ideally, your seedbed should be level and worked over to a fine tilth. Your seed will flourish best when sown into nice and crumbly soil with no lumps or bumps.
The seed won’t grow if it is either buried too deep or sitting on the surface. Whilst seed needs sunlight to germinate, it also needs the air, heat and moisture provided by the soil. So, if the seed is sitting on top of the soil – it won’t be benefitting from all the things it needs to germinate.
When sowing new grass seed, you should rake the seed in so that it is around three £1 coins (stacked) beneath the surface. This depth gives it adequate space to grow and receive light whilst also protecting it from the elements (and pesky birds!).
If your seed is buried too deep, it won’t be able to get any of that good stuff it needs – air, light and water.
In short, if you aren’t watering enough and your seed is sitting on top of hard dry soil, or buried too deep beneath it – you will experience issues with germination. We have lots of guides on how to sow new grass seed and overseed your lawn as well as information on how to repair a drought-damaged lawn.