Will Grass Seed Germinate Faster if Covered?
March 02, 2023

Will Grass Seed Germinate Faster if Covered?

By Adam Chronister

Have you ever wanted to know if grass seed will germinate faster if it is covered? This article will provide an overview of the benefits of covering seed and how doing so can affect the speed of germination.

We will explore different techniques for covering seed, including methods that use mulch, soil, and other materials. Furthermore, we'll discuss tips to ensure successful germination when using these techniques. Let's get started!

Will Covering Grass Seed Speed Up Germination?

Covering grass seed is a great idea since it protects it from outside threats, although it may not necessarily speed up or slow down the germination process.

Will Grass Seed Germinate on Top of Soil?

For grass seeds to germinate, they need three things: moisture, light, and oxygen. Temperature and other environmental conditions control these ingredients so it's essential to understand how they function and how you can expedite the process.

The primary ingredient needed for successful seed planting is water; grass seeds tend to be dry when planted, so they require regular moisture. Misting or spraying them lightly several times a day with water helps, but don't overwater as that will drudge up the soil and prevent oxygen absorption by the seeds.

Will Grass Seed Germinate on Top of Soil?

When planting grass, it's essential to take into account the type of seed; some seeds germinate faster than others. For instance, cool-season grasses need to be sown in autumn so they have time to rest and store up energy before sprouting.

While warm season grasses should be sown in the spring time so they have the best chance of development.

Finally, cover your grass seeds with a thin and lightweight layer of mulch or topsoil. This keeps the soil moist and prevents pests from digging through them. You can either rake the seed into place or use straw as mulch.

Why Leaving Grass Seed Uncovered is Not Recommended

Grass seeds must be protected until they germinate, which may take anywhere from 7 to 21 days.

At this stage, grass seeds are vulnerable to threats such as wind, rain, and birds. These elements can make it difficult for them to sprout and take root, preventing proper grass growth.

Seeds are especially susceptible to drying out, which can kill them and their seedlings. This is a major issue if you are trying to grow grass in an area that gets very dry or sunny.

In these cases, you can cover your grass seed with soil, mulch, or compost to keep it moist and protect it from external elements. Straw can also be used as a cover, which shields them from excessive sunlight and increases germination rates.

The ideal method is to use topsoil, mulch, or compost to keep grass seeds covered. These materials can be bought at your local garden center, or you could make them yourself using food scraps.

Explanation of Root Development

When grass seeds sprout, they create a delicate root system. To stay healthy and prevent diseases from spreading, these roots need to be regularly watered and fed nutrients essential for growth.

The root is composed of two regions, the meristem and cell elongation. At its tip, this meristem produces new cells and is protected from soil erosion by a structure known as the root cap.

Once the meristem is fully formed, it continues to produce new cells through cytokinesis - an act known as cell division.

As these cells divide and expand, they form tissues that help the plant absorb nutrients from the soil. These include root hairs -- tiny, hair-like outgrowths that grow from below the surface of a root and extend into its surrounding soil.

As roots continue to expand, they help stabilize and strengthen the plant as new shoots emerge. Not only do these roots absorb essential nutrients for growth, but they also break up the soil to provide pathways for water and oxygen absorption.

Preparing the Soil

Soil preparation is essential for seed germination as it promotes their health and allows them to better absorb essential nutrients for growth, leading to improved results in the end.

Preparing the Soil

Before sowing grass seed, inspect the soil to make sure it's healthy and free of weeds or debris. This is especially critical if seeding a new lawn.

If your soil is compacted, you'll need to break it up. Raking or tilling the top four inches should do the trick.

Once the area has been cleared of weeds and grass, spread some compost. This provides essential nutrients, beneficial microbes, and more. Furthermore, it helps clay soil drain more effectively while sandy soil retains moisture better.

Test the soil's pH to see if it's alkaline or acidic (pH ranges from 1-14, with 7 being neutral). If it's alkaline, lime may need to be added for balance. You can purchase a soil test kit or do it yourself using some samples of soil and vinegar.

The Importance of Keeping Seeds Covered

Grass seed needs to be protected from the elements, such as sun, wind, or rain. A thin layer of topsoil can suffice but should not be too thick; otherwise the seeds could wash away or dry out before germinating.

Moisturizing the soil is another critical element for successful germination. Newly seeded areas should be watered two or three times daily with a light spray to prevent seeds from drying out and becoming shriveled.

Once the seeds have germinated, they require less frequent watering to encourage deeper roots that can access soil moisture and nutrients.

Leaving seeds unprotected and exposed can attract pests such as birds, squirrels, raccoons, or rats to your area. These animals can easily pick off and consume the seed, leading to an infestation or serious issues with your lawn.

How Deep Does Grass Seed Need to be Buried?

For successful grass seed germination, they need to be buried deeply enough in soil that provides enough moisture. The ideal depth for grass seeds is 1/8-1/4 of an inch (3-6 mm).

This depth ensures the soil is around seeds without smothering or impeding their sprouting. Additionally, it leaves enough space for air, light, and water to pass through without being hindered by weeds or other plants. It also allows enough space for the seed coat to rupture.

How Deep Does Grass Seed Need to be Buried?

When you plant grass seed in a new lawn or you are overseeding an existing one, use a simple rake to cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil at this depth.

You should also consider removing any dead grass from your existing lawn to make space for the new grass. Alternatively, you can use a spreader to cover larger areas with thicker layers of grass seed.

Soil quality and the type of grass seed you plant can affect germination rates. Compacted soil or heavy, sandy soil can reduce oxygen levels necessary for seed growth.

Temperature is another factor; generally speaking, cool-season varieties (like perennial ryegrass or kentucky bluegrass) thrive best during autumn while warm-season grasses thrive during spring or summer.

Explanation of Topsoil and Its Benefits

Topsoil provides a moist and well-aerated environment for grass seeds to germinate. Furthermore, it adds essential nutrients to the soil that help keep it healthy.

Grass seedlings require a certain temperature to germinate, so they should typically be planted in the fall when temperatures are ideal for sprouting. It is also essential to water the area several days prior to sowing in order to prepare the soil for successful germination.

Seeds that have recently been planted can be especially sensitive to water shortages, so providing them with a steady supply of moisture is paramount for their success. This is especially true when planting a cool-season grass type.

A nutrient-rich layer of topsoil can give your grass seeds a head start, and it can also be combined with slow-release starter fertilizer for extra nourishment.

Topsoil is composed of organic materials that are rich in essential nutrients. It also creates an ideal habitat for beneficial microorganisms that promote healthy plant growth. Purchasing topsoil may be necessary if your soil is poor or you're starting from scratch with your garden project.

Mulch Options to Cover Grass Seed

Covering grass seed with mulch is an effective way to prevent it from drying out and becoming rotted. Furthermore, the covering helps warm up the soil and retain moisture levels.

Mulches can be used to cover seeded lawns. Common options include straw, mushroom compost and peat moss.

Straw is a common option for covering newly planted grass seeds due to its affordability and accessibility. However, it's essential that you select an option that is sterile and free of seeds that could turn into weeds.

Mushroom soil is an ideal option for covering grass seed, as it contains essential nutrients and will act as a mulch when decomposed. Not only that, but mushroom soil also increases soil fertility by helping the grass germinate more quickly.

Sawdust is an excellent option for covering grass seed, but be mindful not to apply too much. A thick layer can suffocate the seeds and hinder their growth as well as make it difficult for them to access moisture and warmth from the soil.

You can also pre-germinate grass seed to save time and money when planting a new lawn or overseeding an existing one. By pre-germinating the seed, you can ensure that it will germinate properly and reliably, leaving you with a lush and healthy lawn.

This also reduces the amount of overall water needed for the lawn because the seeds are pre-hydrated, resulting in less runoff. 


Overall, planting grass seeds can be a tricky process. It's important to consider the soil quality and type of seed you are using as well as the temperature and moisture levels necessary for successful germination.

By burying your grass seed at an ideal depth of 1/8-1/4 of an inch (3-6 mm), providing it with topsoil and mulch options, and watering several days prior to sowing, you will give yourself the best chance of having a healthy lawn in no time.

With these tips in mind, go ahead and get started on creating that lush green space for your family or business!

At Swell Seed, we understand that buying quality seeds is the key to having a successful garden. That’s why we strive to provide our customers with only the highest-grade seeds available in the market.

We source our products from reliable suppliers and ensure that each seed meets industry standards for quality and germination rate. Our selection includes organic, heirloom, hybrid, and more! With reasonable prices on top of our commitment to quality assurance, you can trust that your purchase from Swell Seed will be sure to get you growing in no time!