Grass Seed Germination Temperature Chart: Guide to Growing a Lush Lawn

Regardless of how carefully you have prepared the soil and sown your seed, planting a new lawn can fail if you elect to plant new grass seed at the wrong time of the year.

Quick Answer:

The germination temperature for grass seed varies depending on the type of grass. Cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and fescue typically germinate best when soil temperatures are between 50-65°F. Warm-season grasses like Bermuda and Zoysia prefer warmer soil temperatures, typically between 70-85°F.

There are both seasonal times and temperature ranges that must be taken into consideration when deciding when to plant your seed.

Planting outside of these recommended time frames will frequently result in failure to germinate or death of young seedlings.

Grass Seed Germination Temperature Chart And Seeding Information

SpeciesCharacteristicsOptimum Germination Temperature (°F)Seeding Rate (lbs/1000 sq ft)
Bermuda grassDrought-tolerant, fast-growing, high traffic tolerance, invasive75-851-2
Kentucky bluegrassDark green, fine texture, cold-tolerant, high maintenance60-752-3
Zoysia grassDense, low maintenance, heat-tolerant, slow-growing70-751-2
St. Augustine grassShade-tolerant, coarse texture, requires frequent watering70-802-3
Fescue grassShade-tolerant, fine texture, low maintenance, drought-resistant50-655-10
Centipede grassLow maintenance, slow-growing, acid-tolerant, not cold-tolerant70-801-2
Tall fescueDrought-resistant, shade-tolerant, coarse texture60-755-10
RyegrassFast-growing, good for overseeding, not drought-tolerant50-655-10
BentgrassFine texture, good for putting greens, high maintenance60-750.5-1
Fine fescueShade-tolerant, fine texture, low maintenance50-652-3
Bahia GrassDrought-resistant, low maintenance, coarse texture, low traffic tolerance75-855-10
BuffalograssDrought-resistant, low maintenance, fine texture, not shade-tolerant60-752-3
CarpetgrassLow maintenance, shade-tolerant, coarse texture, not cold-tolerant70-805-10
Blue grama grassDrought-resistant, low maintenance, not shade-tolerant70-802-3
Seashore paspalumSalt-tolerant, good for coastal areas, high maintenance75-852-3
Annual ryegrassFast-growing, good for overseeding, not cold-tolerant50-655-10
Perennial ryegrassFast-growing, good for overseeding, not drought-tolerant50-655-10

Time of Year

Most homeowners automatically apply grass seed in the spring once their yards have been thoroughly raked and bald patches of dirt have been discovered.

The problem is that spring weather is often unpredictable, even within the same area.

The primary reason why grass seed fails to germinate in the spring is because of the wet and cool weather. Grass seed that is sown in soil temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit can fail to germinate for many weeks – if at all.

In order for soil temperatures to reach above 50 degrees, the outside temperature must 65 degrees or higher for 10 consecutive days.

Springtime is notoriously rainy as well. Although water is required for grass seed to germinate, there can be too much of a good thing. Heavy springtime rains can delay grass seed germination.

Grass Type

The species of grass seed you wish to grow will also have an effect on the temperature required for the grass seed to germinate.

Cool Season Grasses

For example, cool season grasses are should be planted in the early fall. These grasses grow best when the daytime temperatures range from 60 to 75 degrees. Within this temperature range, soil temperatures will usually be between 50 and 70 degrees, which is ideal for germination.

Although cool season grasses like cool temperatures, it is important to plant them early in the fall to ensure that their root systems have time to mature before the first frost hits.

The fall is the best time to plant cool season grasses.

Warm Season Grasses

Warm season grasses are generally planted in the U.S.D.A.’s hardiness zones 8 through 10.

In order for these plants to successfully germinate, daytime temperatures must average around 80 degrees Fahrenheit; however, daytime temperatures do not always serve as the best indicator. If evening temperatures are averaging 70 degrees, then it is more than likely that the soil temps will around the same.

The springtime is the best time for planting warm grass seed.

If spring is particularly cool in your area, wait until early summer to plant warm season grasses. Ideally, they should be planted in the full sun to ensure proper root establishment.

Don’t forget that seeds rely on both warmth and moisture to swell and sprout.

Don’t Forget Water & Soil Contact

Grass seed should be planted at no more than a ½ inch in depth, and the top 1 inch of soil should be kept moist.

With proper watering and the correct temperatures, you will soon have the lush green lawn you have always desired.