Is Your Grass Seed Not Growing? Here’s Why

So you want what all homeowners dream of – a beautiful, green, lush lawn. But your grass seed isn’t growing! This can be a frustrating thing, especially for those with no knack for growing plants. Luckily, there are a few things to try before giving up.

The largest factors that affect grass growth are water, temperature, sunlight, and soil pH balance.

Let’s get down to it, and get your grass green and gorgeous!

Top Fixes for Grass Seed Not Growing

Surprisingly, growing grass is a bit of an involved process. Sure, you could just throw a handful of grass into the world and see where that takes you, but it likely won’t get great results. Similarly, the maintenance of your lawn is vital to its health (I know, shocker).

So what affects the growth of grass?


Like most forms of life on Earth, plant or animal, grass needs water to thrive. That’s not to say lots of water is needed, but rather, the proper amount of water. I know, it’s a bit frustrating, but once you get this down, things will be easy to maintain.

Watering newly planted grass seed will help it to grow, but overwatering could literally drown the seeds. This will cause them to float up to the top of the soil and not take root. This is part of the reason that excessively rainy habitats can be surprisingly hard to grow new grass.

Temperature & Weather

Temperatures too cold for grass seed to grow

In short, plant grass later in the year than you think you should. I know it seems like spring is the time to plant everything in your garden, but grass is different. Because overwatering can cause big problems in your lawn, try planting in early to mid-summer, when rain is less common.

Spring weather is extremely difficult to predict, especially here in the UK. One day it’ll feel like the middle of summer, and the next there will be consistent showers that last for weeks. To prevent nature from overwatering your grass seed, simply plant when it won’t rain.

Additionally, grass doesn’t like to grow if the soil is too hot or cold. So planting in mid-August may be too late, while late February is certainly too early. Try to find a middle ground where the soil is above 10° C and below 30° C.

Soil pH

For the unaware, soil pH is vital to growing just about anything. The pH scale goes from 0 to 14, with zero being incredibly acidic compounds like hydrochloric acid, and 14 being highly basic (alkaline) compounds like bleach. If you’re unsure what your soil’s pH level is, it’s rather easy to test – just read the below section.

How to Test Soil pH

Here’s how to test your soil pH at home:

  1. Gather soil
  2. Remove any debris and break up large clumps of soil.
  3. Mix 1 cup of soil with enough water to create mud – in a glass container.
  4. Add .5 cup vinegar and stir – if it fizzes, the soil is basic. If not, repeat steps 1-3, then…
  5. Add .5 cup baking soda and stir if it fizzes or bubbles, it’s acidic.

You can also buy pH testing kits online or at gardening stores for relatively cheap and simply follow their instructions. Do this if you feel you need a more specific reading.


Sunlight through trees

Just like most other plants, grass seed needs sunlight to produce chlorophyll and start photosynthesis. If your grass seed is not growing, consider how much sunlight it’s getting. If it’s in a heavily shaded area that only gets an hour or two of sunlight each day, it’s not going to grow.

If your grass gets at least three hours of sunlight each day, you should be good. But remember, soil with little sunlight will also have a low pH level. This will make it a great spot to plant trees, but grass will not do well there. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do here short of removing trees and bushes that prevent your grass from getting sun.

Other Factors

Pulling weeds from lawn

If you think that none of the above conditions has affected your grass, there are two other things that could be causing your grass seed to not grow. Fertilisers and weeds can both affect the quality of your grass.

If you haven’t fertilised your lawn recently, it could simply need more nutrients. Just be careful to not over fertilise your lawn, as this could literally burn the lawn due to the chemicals present in most fertilisers. A good alternative to fertiliser is compost, if you have access to it.

The other potential factor that could be affecting your lawn is weeds. These suckers come in many shapes and sizes, but the main point is that they steal nutrients from your grass and can affect soil pH. By using week killers, you risk damaging your lawn further. It’s recommended that you use some elbow grease and simply pull weeds as they crop up.

Finally, if nothing works, try growing some grass seed in a cup near your window in ideal conditions. That could help locate the source of your problem.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of how green your thumb is, there are a lot of things you can do to ensure your lawn grows well. Ensuring it has proper access to sunlight and water, as well as shielding it from extreme temperatures by planting at proper times will help keep your lawn healthy. And if these don’t work, testing your soil pH could explain why.

Just like most things in life, grass seed is delicate, especially in the germination state before it’s rooted. Pay attention to your lawn – are there weeds? Pull them. Have you fertilised recently? If not, do it! And if nothing else works, go to your local garden shop. These conditions vary by your location, so the local shop may have answers specific to your area. Perhaps you’re using a seed that’s unsuited to your climate, or maybe it’s just rained too much recently.

Whatever the problem is, there is a solution. You just need to put the time and effort in to find it.