Sometimes we forget that grass seed is a living thing, and it needs the right conditions to grow successfully – heat, water, air and light.
When these conditions aren’t perfect, grass seed will fail to germinate. So, what could be preventing your grass seed from growing this summer, especially now as the weather is at perfect peak temperatures? Well, there’s three very common reasons why this might be happening, and guess what – it all comes down to water, air and light!
Most lawns suffered from the drought last summer – although the hot UK weather was very welcome, it left the grass dry, yellowed and full of weeds and moss as they festered while we reclined and caught a few rays! Unfortunately, this left some lawns badly damaged, and although they have been overseeded – the lawn is still too dry from last year. In addition, we also had a dry winter, which hasn’t help things one bit! We have been recommending to customers that they double up on their watering (twice a day) to combat this – 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 – the soil becomes hard, dry and the soil is essentially suffocating. Seeds require oxygen to germinate – respiration breaks down the food store within the seed. This store then provides the seed with the energy it needs to shoot up. If you have compacted soil, it is important to break it up before sowing. Ideally your seedbed should be level and worked over to a fine tilth – nice and crumbly and no lumps or bumps.
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 heat, moisture and air provided by the soil so if it’s sitting on top of the soil – it won’t be benefitting from all those things it needs to germinate. When sowing new seed, you should rake the seed in so that it is around three £1 coins (stacked) beneath the surface – this gives it adequate space to grow and receive light whilst also providing protection 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 – water, air and light.
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.