Does Grass Seed Expire? All You Need to Know

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close up picture of hand holding planting the seed of the plant

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If you’ve got a lawn, you might notice from time to time that the grass has grown patchy. This calls for an immediate change.

More often than not, we don’t worry too much since many of us have grass seeds stowed away somewhere in the house. But before pulling out that old sack of seeds, you need to ask yourself whether they have expired.

Yes, grass seeds can expire, and if you’re not careful, you might end up planting seeds that have gone bad. Therefore, in spite of your best efforts, you’ll be left with a barren patch of land since the grass will simply not grow.

Surely, your mind is racing by now about how to make the grass seeds last longer and whether there is any way to know if the seeds are still good. Before you rush to check the expiry date, we’ve got a thorough guide to help you understand all the deets about grass seeds.

Let’s get into the thick of it without further delay.

Can Grass Seeds Expire?

Female hands with a bright manicure hands are sowing grain and soil in a pot for growing plants. Woman sowing seeds in ground at table at home. Female gardener sows seedlings at her home

Let us get the pressing question out of the way first. To reiterate, yes, grass seeds can expire. They have expiration dates stamped on the bags and tend to go bad with the passage of time. Usually, it is best if you throw away the grass seeds, which have remained unused past their displayed expiration date.

The more the grass seed ages, there is a reduction in the percentage when it comes to seeds that are able to be sown successfully to germinate. Thus, you could end up using more seeds than normal for adequate germination and coverage.

Sometimes, that is not enough either. Even after spending hours feeding, irrigating, or nurturing seeds, they might end up not producing any grass.

How Long Can You Store Grass Seeds?

Now that we know grass seeds might expire, the question is, how long can one store them. The rule of thumb notes that grass seeds can be stored for around two to three years. But, seeds that are less than a year old have the best chance of germinating.

Most people have noticed that with each passing year, the seeds face nearly 10% reduction in the rate of germination. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule and might vary depending on how well the seeds are stored.

Furthermore, there are some variations, depending on the kind of seeds used. The Rye grass seeds can remain viable for around five years, which is definitely longer than the more common varieties like Bermuda or Fescue grass seeds.

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How Should Grass Seed be Stored?

Since a lot hinges on storage, you might be curious about how to keep the seeds so as to obtain the best results when the time comes to sow them. It is a really great practice to keep the seeds in bags that have mesh air vents. This way, air can enter the bag, which is good for the seeds. But, the mesh keeps the insects out, protecting the seeds from damage.

When it comes to preserving the seeds and carefully storing them, the most important rule is to keep the bag in a dry and cool place that does not have humidity. Ideally, steps must be taken to ensure that the temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and the relative humidity should be anything less than 60%.

As you can understand, the basic idea is to keep the seeds cool. But, you must avoid freezing it at all costs, because otherwise, you’ll end up ruining them.

When you pick the storage space, be sure to keep rodents and insects away from the grass seeds. These creatures will otherwise ruin the entire batch by feeding on them.

Similarly, when it comes to lawn seeds, an important consideration for storage is where you live. This determines how cold it might get during the winters. If you see that the temperatures fall below freezing point, we recommend that you avoid the garden sheds, as it wouldn’t be the best idea.

Instead, you might consider choosing to store the seeds in an insulated basement or garage. Ultimately, for the best results irrespective of the storage, it is advisable to buy the highest quality seeds.

Physical Signs of Grass Seeds Expiring

Even though you try your best to store the seeds in a manner that they are preserved, with time, these are likely to expire. While normally, you would want to check the expiry dates on the boxes or sacks to see if the seeds are alright, these dates aren’t always accurate.

More often than not, they are rough estimates, and the shelf life of the seeds depends on their quality and how well you’ve stored them. Now that you can’t fully rely on the expiry date, it leads to a bigger problem. By looking at the seeds, there aren’t usually any overt signs that will prove that they’ve expired.

That said, sometimes, the moment you look at the seeds, it becomes clear that you should not sow them on your lawn. Check the grass seeds you have stored, and inspect them well for any signs of discoloration or fungi. You can also look for the clumpy and damp areas of the seeds.

In the event that you find any of these, it is advisable to dispose of the seeds and buy a fresh batch. But, if you wish to go ahead and use these seeds, then you’re bound to get patchy lawn areas and lower rates of seed germination.

How to Check if Old Grass Seed is Still Good

Apart from the evident physical signs of going bad, you can actually carry out some tests to see if the old grass seeds are still good and usable. Before you worry, let us tell you that these tests are rather simple and can be conducted easily at home.

Before you invest in new seeds, we recommend carrying out a few steps to see if the old ones are any good. Start off by placing a damp paper towel inside a cup. Then add a bit of water. Usually, about an inch from the bottom should do the trick.

Carefully sprinkle the grass seeds onto the paper towel. Then, you have to put the plastic on top of the cup. This creates a greenhouse effect because of the cover, which traps the heat in. You can add water as needed to keep the paper towel moist. But do be careful not to overdo it.

Finally, you have to put the cup in a dry and sunny spot. Usually, you will see that the seeds will start to germinate in 10 to 14 days. Sometimes, it might take even less time.

But, after the stipulated period has elapsed, if you still notice that most seeds have not sprouted or germinated, then you should consider buying new seeds.

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Improving Chances of Storage Success

When you go to buy new seeds, you basically get a chance to start this process over. Once you buy the fresh batch, you have to carefully store it again until it is time to use the seeds.

So, now, you have the power to do everything possible to maximize the chances of storing the seeds successfully for a long time. If you are sure that you have to store some of the grass seeds that you buy, then making the proper purchase goes a long way in taking the first step to adequate storage.

Just like you would check the expiration date for milk at a grocery store, you have to find and buy the seed, whose expiration date is marked the furthest away from the date it is purchased. If you buy seeds of particularly high quality, it only serves to improve your chances of successfully storing any part that remains unused.

If you’re unsure of what a high-quality seed entails, we’ve got you covered. It will have less than 0.5% weeds, and there won’t be noxious seeds. There won’t be more than 2% of other crops, and filler materials, like dirt or chaff, will also be in lesser quantities than 2%.

Tips to Sow Grass Seed

It is undeniable that you’ll have to give the grass seeds special care and the best chances to germinate. But, if you’re bent on sowing the older seeds to see if they sprout grass, there are some extra measures you can take to maximize the chances.

Be sure that you water your seeds twice every day and keep the top of the soil moist. Usually, you have to keep around an inch of the soil moist until germination starts to occur. After you observe this phenomenon, it is best to water the soil only once each day.

When you see that the grass starts to grow to nearly three inches in its height, you can start to mow the lawn, as you would normally. After the lawn is mowed, you should resume the standard watering schedule.

We suggest that you be sure that the seeds don’t happen to dry out. Try not to cover them with straw either, since it might contain unwanted weeds and seeds. Instead, we suggest that you cover the seeds with a thin topsoil layer. As discussed, fresher seeds always have a better chance than older ones when it comes to germination and sprouting grass.

Why the Grass Might Not Grow

Even after you follow all the steps correctly, you might still see that the grass doesn’t grow as well as you’d expect it to. While this can be frustrating, maybe there is nothing wrong with your seeds at all. There are other factors that might prevent the grass from growing.

  1. Cold Weather

The cold deters growth. This has always been a fact of life, and there is no difference when it comes to grass seeds either. It hinders the growing process. In order for the seed to germinate, the temperature of the soil must at least be fifty-five degrees, while the air temperature has to be sixty degrees or higher at all times.

You must also be careful about when you’re planting the seeds. Say you plant them in the spring. If you’re too early, they’ll sit on top of the soil and won’t germinate. By the time the weather gets warmer, several seeds get damaged and might not even sprout.

This, in turn, will result in patchy and sparse growth. Usually, if you think any time in spring is ideal for planting the seeds, you should wait for another ten days before you get to it.

  1. Less Sunlight than Needed

The lack of sunlight becomes a problem sometimes while growing grass. As you know, sunlight is essential for any vegetation and essentially for all life forms to flourish. Most types of grass usually need at least three hours of sunlight each day in order to germinate.

Areas that receive less than this amount might work better with grass covers needing low sunlight if the ordinary grass refuses to grow. You may also attempt to grow a particular grass type yourself, one which you know will also thrive in the shade.

  1. Wet Weather

Water is essential for the growth of plants and vegetation. Seeds need water to germinate, but too much of a good thing can turn out to be problematic too. If seeds get more water than needed, it actually hinders growth.

Therefore, it is advisable to plant the seeds only after the spring showers end. For the quickest growth and best results, it is advisable to water the seeded regions in the right manner.

Spring planting of seeds. Seed in the fingers. Coconut substrate. Detailed macro photo. The concept of growing vegetables, herbs.

Final Words

Hopefully, we have been able to resolve any questions you might have about grass seeds expiring.

Even though they have a relatively long shelf life, the potency of the seeds keeps getting lower over time. You can try and preserve it by following the storage guidelines we have highlighted above.

But, if the situation seems to be beyond repair, we do recommend that you opt to purchase high-quality seeds and then plant them. Try and take extra care of these so they sprout a lush grass for your lawn. You can try your luck with the older seeds too, but chances are you’ll end up with patchy grass that won’t look good.

As usual, if you need any additional help with figuring out why grass seeds expire and how to store them, you can always reach out to us. Till next time, bye!

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