Planting the grass seed is one of the most cost-effective solutions to have a lush lawn in no time. But you need to ensure they are stored in the right way.
If the seed is not good, it will just waste your time and money.
But does grass seed go bad, and if so, how to store grass seed the right way? Well, for any serious lawn owners, these are some valid questions.
And yes they go bad FAST if not stored properly. In this thorough guide, you will get all of your questions answered.
How Long Do Grass Seeds Last?
Before you get scared or disappointed, let me clear something at first. The grass seeds don’t go bad the same way as milk goes bad.
When the expiry date of the seeds expired, it does not mean it’s completely gone. It just simply means there will be less germination when planted.
With that being said, let’s answer all of your questions.
You need to understand the germination rate to fully understand the longevity of seeds. In a perfectly stored condition, there is an on an average 10% reduction in germination rate each year.
So, the packed seed will go bad within just 10 years even if you store it the right way! It can go bad within just 2 years too if not stored properly. That’s the reason the expiration date in the package of such seeds is important.
As per the Scotts Company, your grass seed is good for only 2 to 3 years! Of course, it depends on the type of seeds we are talking about.
For example, if you plan to seed ryegrass seed, it will last up to 5 years if stored properly. But Bermuda grass seed and fescue grass seed last less than the ryegrass seed.
I can back that information with verified data. As per a recent study of Oregon State University, the tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass seeds have a 50% chance of germination even after 3 to 5 years.
The same chance of germination rate is applicable for creeping bentgrass even after 5+ years!
But there is no alternative to fresh grass seeds.
You will be needing fewer seeds to plant if it’s new. But you will be needing them a lot if the package is old according to the expiry date.
So, if you are wondering how do you know if grass seed is still good, you should check the expiry date first. Then you need to make a visual inspection.
If there is a presence of mold or fungus, it’s a surefire sign that the seeds have already gone bad. If there is any confusion regarding this, you can make a germination test to be 100% sure.
This is what you should do…
You need a plastic bag, a damp paper towel, and 10 seeds. Place the seeds on the towel and put it inside the sealed bag. Now, keep the bag in a warm place for 10 to 12 days.
It’s time to notice the germination rate.
If you notice less than 5 seeds sprout, the package has less than 50% germination rate. So, if you still want to go forward with the package, you will be needing double the amount of seeds to plant.
Factors Affecting The Viability of Grass Seeds
The grass seeds need to be stored in a cool and dry place for their longest viability. Sadly, not every homeowner knows the ideal conditions of storing their seeds.
Most of the homeowners just put them in their garages and sheds which may not be ideal. It’s important to understand why they go bad. This will help you take the right measures to preserve your seeds.
The most common viability affecting factors are:
- Level of Moisture Content
Now, before it sounds worrisome to you, let me assure you that it’s pretty rare the seeds will loose their optimal internal moisture level. And the optimal seed moisture level is 10% to 20% for most of the seeds.
If the moisture level falls below this rate, the seeds will simply die. But then again, it’s hardly the case as mentioned earlier.
The scenario is often the opposite because seeds can easily absorb more moisture if stored in a humid condition. Too much moisture will ruin them for sure.
When seeds absorb excess moisture from the humidity or rain, it leads to mold and fungal infection including premature sprouting.
- Level of Storage Humidity Level
As you have already learned, the humid storage condition will damage the seeds. So, if you store them in open containers or cloth sacks, the moisture level of the seeds will change for sure.
The humid condition will let the seeds absorb more moisture which in turn will ruin your seeds.
- Storage Temperature
Does grass seed go bad when frozen? Yes, most likely! Of course, you need to store them in a cool and dry place but it should be above the freezing temperature.
So, the storage temperature should be under 60 degrees F. Temperature and above freezing condition. So, can grass seed be stored below freezing? The answer is: No!
On the other hand, if the temperature goes above 100 degrees, it will badly affect the seeds.
Why You Didn’t Have A Lush Lawn?
You may not get a lush lawn even if you plant the fresh seed. There are plenty of reasons behind that like the location of your lawn and harvesting condition.
And you should know about those reasons. Otherwise, you will be blaming the brand for no reason.
Here are some common reasons why you did not have a lush lawn even after planting the new and fresh seeds:
- Lack of Sunlight
For proper germination rate, almost every type of grass seed requires at least 3 hours of sunlight daily. If your lawn area is receiving less sunlight than this long, you will notice less germination rate.
You can solve the problem yourself by laying sod. You can buy such sod matching your grass type that is perfect to thrive in shade.
- Cold Weather
For grass seeds to germinate well, the soil temperature should be at least 55 degrees and the air temperature needs to be stable within the range of 60 degrees or more.
So, cold weather is bad for seeds to grow. Also, the timing of planting seeds is important during any weather.
Let’s say you plant the seeds too early in the spring. The seeds will be damaged before the weather warms up. So, your seeds won’t germinate and you will end up having a patchy and sparse lawn.
- Rainy Season & Direct Sunlight
Of course, grass seeds need water to germinate. But too much water will hinder the germination rate. Everything too much is always BAD!
Like the heavy-rainfall, exposure to direct sunlight for too long may also hamper the germination. So, keep that in your mind too!
Your newly planted seeds need gently watering for the best results. So, experienced lawn owners normally plant their seeds at the end of the heavy downpour season.
Choosing The Right Grass Seed Type For Lush Lawn
Depending on the soil you got in your lawn, you need to be smart picking up the right grass seed type. There are different kinds of grasses for different types of soils.
To be more clear, you need different kinds of grass for your clay or sandy soil, and you need something different for your shady lawn.
Some lawn enthusiasts prefer the Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass because are basically all-purpose grass irrespective of the soil type. With a few exceptions, they grow almost anywhere!
They have a longer shelf-life than other grass types too.
I always advise people to buy cool-season grasses if they live on the northern side of the U.S. and warm-season grass if it’s the southern side. That’s the general rule of thumb!
Picking The Right Brand of Seed
You may already know that the germination rate largely depends on the quality of the seeds. But what may not know is that grass seeds are expensive (pun intended). Once you ensure the good seed, you are already ahead of the game making some neighbors jealous!
So, it’s important to get quality seeds all the time. One easy way to trust only the brand recommended by your fellow lawn owners.
There are plenty of renowned grass seed brands. But the most prominent brands are Pennington, Scotts, and Jonathan Green. These brands are trusted by consumers for many years!
Each of these brands has seeds packaged with expiry date and germination rate. And you will get such a germination rate if you plan those seeds within the first year of the package date.
I could recommend some other brands but if you are a first-time consumer, stick to the above brands only to stay safe.
To save your time, you can order from any of these brands online. You can make a small visit to your local big-box retailer, wholesale distributor, or any small garden shop.
How To Store Grass Seed?
Any leftover seed should be properly stored for later use. As you have already seen this is crucial to save money and to avoid patchy lawn. Following some basic tips can store your seeds effectively.
The smart decision to store your seeds correctly would be using a bag with mesh air vents only if it’s for the short-term. Make sure to date and label the bags filled with the leftover seeds.
It will ensure two things for you. One, it will prevent insects. And two, it will allow the air to flow in.
To keep the moisture at a minimum while storing them in such bags as burlap, keep an open- box of baking soda. It will absorb the excess moisture and keep the bag less susceptible to damage from the moisture.
However, seeds are like magnets that attract moisture insanely. So, if you are storing them for the long-term, I always recommend storing them in a sealed container.
And before you put them in the sealed container, make sure the seeds are dried.
The place of storage should be humid-free. It should be a cool and dry place. But it should never be freezing. Think about how freezing it gets during the winter too.
If it gets freezing, then using the garden shed as the storage location is not a good idea. And lastly, the place should both insects and rodents free zone. That’s vital!
In case you don’t know, rodents and insects feed on seeds. What’s more problematic is they leave husk behind. For any untrained eyes, that’s very deceptive since you may think the container is still full!
So, if you are wondering, the ideal place would be your insulated garage or basement.
Always use the original bag of your seed and make sure the bag is shut with heavy-duty tape. And do not place such bags on top of another. And allowing the bags around them is important as well.
Would you throw out seeds that have less than 50% germination chance? Or what if you inherit a bag of such grass seeds from your neighbors that have a near-ending expiry date?
Well, I would still use them. You see, when you have a fully grown lawn or if you spot several patchy spots in your lawn, you can still use old seeds for overseeding.
If you use the old grass seeds for reseeding or top seeding, you may not get the desired germination, but it will keep your cost lower to have a lush lawn.
Since you are still reading this, I can fairly assume you are no longer wondering whether grass goes bad or don’t. Like everything related to lawn, of course, they go bad.
They go bad naturally even if you store them in the most ideal condition and place. But to stay safe, I will recommend planting only the fresh seed.
That way you will have a better chance of getting a higher germination rate by planting fewer seeds.