Does Grass Seed Go Bad in the Bag?

You’ve decided to patch up those ugly brown spots in the yard where grass doesn’t grow. The only problem is, you can’t remember the last time you bought grass seed. Sound familiar? In this article we will answer the following question: does grass seed go bad in the bag?

While grass seed doesn’t spoil as fast as an avocado, it does go bad eventually. You can typically expect grass seed to go bad after 2 years. Once this amount of time has passed don’t expect every seed to flourish into thick, green grass.

Does Grass Seed Expire?

As we touched on in the introduction, grass seed does have a shelf life. Even when stored in a cool, dry place, most grass seed will only last 2 years. Sometimes it will last for a longer period of time, but the effectiveness of the seeds will go down with age.

That’s why it’s important not to buy grass seed in bulk (even if it’s on sale). Keep things simple and avoid buying grass seed if you don’t need it. The problem is that it’s much harder to grow grass with older seeds. You will need to plant many more seedlings to start the germination process.

Not all of these old seeds will sprout into new grass, which is why it will require more volume. At the same time too many seeds won’t solve the problem either. They will be in competition with each other, as each seed requires enough sunlight and water to grow.

Why Grass Seed Won’t Grow

Old seeds are just one reason why you can’t get any grass to grow. Most of the time the problem is related to overwatering, or underwatering the seeds. But hard soil, shaded areas, heavy foot traffic, and too many seeds can also contribute to this problem.

1. Water Issues

One of the first reasons why grass seed won’t grow is due to water issues. You need to be very patient during the first 7-14 days, as this is when the germination process begins. During this stage the grass seed will need to be kept moist, because this will help the seeds latch to the soil. But you also want to avoid overwatering them too.

Too much water and the dirt surface will become over saturated and prevent germination. Just like too little water will dry out the seeds and and make them useless. It’s important to check how much water your specific type of grass needs. Bermuda grass will require less water than other types of species, so you will need to keep this in mind.

2. Hard Soil

Having hard soil in your lawn can also contribute to grass seed not growing. That’s why it’s critical to till soil, before planting any seeds. Tilling the soil will break up dirt and help you get any weeds under control. It also creates a better environment for grass seed to grow, as air and water will be able to make their way under the surface layer.

When the soil is too compact it closes the pores in the dirt, blocking air and water as a result. This will also create water build up on the lawn, which will over saturate any seeds on the dirt. To till soil you can either use a machine, or a garden rake. The latter will be better at tilling small yards, while you will need to use heavy machinery on larger yards.

3. Shaded Areas

Any shaded areas in your yard will also have a hard time growing grass. Seeds need the proper amount of sunlight in order to begin the germination process. If you live in a cloudy area, or your lawn has many trees, it might be difficult growing grass seed. Some species like Bermuda grass even require at least 6 hours of sunlight each day.

The good news is there are a few ways to help grass grow in these conditions. For starters, it’s best to grow grass in the fall, or early spring. You want to avoid planting grass in the hot months, as this can dry out the seeds. You can also try over fertilizing the lawn in shaded areas in order to provide essential nutrients that will help them germinate.

4. Foot Traffic

Too much foot traffic on your lawn can also cause grass seed not to grow. During the beginning stages grass seed is very delicate, which is why you should avoid walking on the surface. Any kind of foot traffic can disrupt the germination process and prevent grass from sprouting. Even small amounts of weight can damage seedlings.

You might be surprised to learn that traffic from dogs and cats is enough weight to prevent seeds from growing into grass. That’s why you will need to wait until the grass has reached a certain height before growing. A period of time won’t work if the grass is growing at a slow rate. You should wait until the grass is at least 3 inches tall before walking on it.

5. Seed Not Spread

You might be tempted to throw down a handful of seeds if you’re having trouble growing grass. However, too much grass seed isn’t always a good thing. You want the seed to be spread out evenly, so they all have a chance to receive moisture and water. You will have a problem if you’re coating the ground to the point where dirt can’t be seen.

The main issue with this approach is that all of this excess seed will be in competition with each other for sunlight, air, and water. Some seeds will be buried so much to the point that they won’t be able to get enough nutrients. To give you some idea, the seeds should be spread out about half an inch apart for grass to start growing.

Storage Tips

Keep Seed Dry: If you have an abundance of grass seed, you will need to store it in a dry place. If the seed were to become exposed to moisture it could potentially start the germination process.

Keep Seed Cool: You also want to prevent grass seed from getting too hot. If left in the sun it will eventually dry out and be ineffective when it comes time for planting. Store any seed in a bag out of the sun.

Final Thoughts

This article started with a question: does grass seed go bad in the bag? You have now learned that grass seed does expire after 2 years, even when stored in the right setting.

That’s why it’s so critical that you don’t store a large amount of grass seed if you aren’t going to use it. Even though grass seed can last over 2 years, its level of effectiveness will begin to diminish over time.

Some of the seed won’t grow, which is why you will need to use more of it to grow the same amount of grass. But there are still other factors that can contribute to grass seed not growing, other than old age.

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