No one wants to wait weeks for grass seeds to sprout. Even if you have the patience to literally watch grass grow, there are risks to letting soil sit bare for too long. Fast-growing grass seed offers quick results while also preventing erosion and weeds.
Some of the most vigorous grasses can germinate in less than a week. But it’s not as simple as choosing the fastest-growing grass seed and hoping for the best. In my experience, how and when you plant grass seed plays just as big a role in getting the quick results you crave.
Whether you’re repairing thin patches of grass or seeding a lawn from nothing, there’s a lot that goes into growing grass. If speed is also a top priority, you’re left with little room for error. I’ll help guide you through the whole process — from grass selection to planting and aftercare — so you don’t waste any time figuring things out on your own.
- 1. Perennial Ryegrass For Temperate Climates
- 2. Zoysia For Warm Climates
- 3. Fine Fescues For Shade
- 4. Buffalo Grass For Full Sun
- 5. Kentucky Bluegrass For Heavy Traffic
- 6. Bermuda For Pets
6 Types Of Fast-Growing Turf Grass
Your choice of turf grass should ultimately come down to things like local climate and individual needs. However, quick results are still possible by planting a fast-growing grass seed that fits those parameters.
There are two ways to measure the growth of different grass seeds — germination rate and establishment rate. I suggest taking both into account when choosing grass for your lawn.
Germination rate refers to how quickly grass seed sprouts. A faster germination rate means that you’ll see green growth sooner rather than later. But it could be months before those young sprouts are fully mature.
On the other hand, grass with a faster establishment rate will fill out more quickly. You should prioritize establishment speed if you live in a harsher climate or expect your lawn to withstand heavy foot traffic.
Some of the most popular turf grasses are fast-growing because no one wants to wait months for a new lawn to sprout. So there’s a good chance you’ll recognize many of the grass varieties I’ve recommended below:
1. Perennial Ryegrass For Temperate Climates
While perennial ryegrass is technically a cool-season grass, it doesn’t have the same level of cold tolerance as many others. It also struggles in high heat. These factors make it an ideal choice for temperate climates such as those in the U.S.’s transition zone.
Perennial ryegrass’ claim to fame is its rapid growth rate. According to Cornell University, it’s considered the fastest-growing of all popular turf grasses.
Perennial ryegrass seed starts germinating in as little as 5 days. By 14 days, all viable seeds should be germinated. In ideal conditions, perennial ryegrass can reach a mowable height within 3 to 4 weeks after planting.
Don’t make the mistake of planting annual ryegrass if you want to start a permanent lawn. While this grass is a relative of perennial ryegrass, it only lives a year or two at most without reseeding. Annual ryegrass is most popular for temporary winter lawns in particularly warm regions.
2. Zoysia For Warm Climates
Zoysia grass is a wonderfully low-maintenance option for warm-climate lawns. Its tolerance of slightly cooler temperatures also makes zoysia ideal for the southern part of the U.S.’s transition zone.
Part of what makes zoysia grass so well-suited to warmer areas is its drought tolerance. When all else is equal, zoysia remains green longer and regains color faster during summer droughts than other grass species.
You’ll want to plant zoysia grass where it gets plenty of sun. However, this warm-season turf grass does tolerate partial shade better than others.
Zoysia grass germinates fairly quickly. Most lawns will show significant growth within 14 to 21 days of seeding. The downside is that zoysia grass spreads very slowly and can take several seasons to completely fill in. But once it does, you’ll have a dense, carpet-like lawn for years to come.
3. Fine Fescues For Shade
Though tall fescues are more commonly used for residential lawns, I want to take a moment to highlight the benefits of planting fine fescue. These grass varieties are particularly suited to shady areas that other turf grasses would struggle in.
Fine fescue is slightly less durable than its tall counterpart but has a much more desirable touch and appearance. It retains its green color in all but the coldest regions, making it ideal for planting in the transition zone.
Like tall fescue, fine fescue survives on minimal water and is very drought tolerant. I highly recommend planting fine fescue if you’re interested in creating a low-maintenance lawn. Several organizations, including Purdue University, are also working to increase the use of fine fescue as sustainable turf grass.
As far as the growth rate is concerned, fine fescue is incredibly fast. Seeds germinate within 7 days when the conditions are right. Fine fescue is an excellent choice if you need to fill in a lawn as quickly as possible.
4. Buffalo Grass For Full Sun
Buffalo grass is one of the most recognizable grass varieties used in residential lawns. One of its most interesting qualities is that it is the only popular turf grass native to North America.
While buffalo grass is decidedly a warm-season variety, it fares much better in the cold than many of its counterparts. I recommend buffalo grass if you live somewhere that experiences warm summers as well as cool winters.
The main drawback to buffalo grass is that it does not tolerate shade well at all. Buffalo grass needs at least 6 hours of bright, direct sunlight to thrive. Planting this turf grass in a shaded area is sure to produce lackluster results.
Buffalo grass seed germinates within 14 to 21 days and establishes relatively quickly after that. You should expect to have a mature lawn of buffalo grass a year after planting.
Since buffalo grass is native to North America’s midwestern prairies, it requires minimal watering. If you’re searching for grass that loves the sun but also tolerates cooler temperatures, this is definitely one to consider.
5. Kentucky Bluegrass For Heavy Traffic
For areas that receive heavy foot traffic, few types of grass hold up as well as Kentucky bluegrass. This is a cool-season variety that is grown in countless lawns throughout the United States. Despite the name, however, it is actually native to Europe.
Kentucky bluegrass is often identified by its dark blue-green coloring. Once mature, Kentucky bluegrass is incredibly thick and naturally fills in spots that become thin or bare from wear and tear.
It’s important to note that Kentucky bluegrass is one of the slowest fast-growing grass seeds available. Even in ideal conditions, Kentucky bluegrass can take up to 30 days to germinate.
With so many benefits to planting Kentucky bluegrass, the wait is almost always worth it. If you have no time to spare, however, Kentucky bluegrass sod may be a better investment than lower-quality seed.
6. Bermuda For Pets
Any dog owner is well-aware of the damage even a single pup can do to a lawn. If your dream lawn is one that can bounce back from day-to-day pet damage, Bermuda grass is certainly worth a look.
Bermuda grass is a warm-season variety that loves the sun and tolerates moderate drought. While no grass is 100% dog-proof, Bermuda grass comes fairly close. According to NC State University, it is more durable and quicker to recover from damage than other turf grasses.
Of course, Bermuda grass wouldn’t be listed here if it wasn’t fast-growing as well. Bermuda grass seed germinates in 7 to 14 days. With proper care, it can reach maturity within a couple of months.
How To Grow Grass Fast
When it comes to starting grass from seed, Mother Nature can only work so fast. There is no miracle product or technique that will turn your property from bare soil into a lush lawn overnight. However, proper soil preparation and aftercare will ensure grass seed germinates as quickly as possible.
Alternatively, there are faster ways to establish a lawn if you’re willing to forego grass seed altogether.
Sod offers almost instant results. It still requires a couple of weeks to take root before it can handle routine foot traffic. But you’ll have the look and feel of a mature lawn immediately after installation. The biggest downsides to using sod are the high cost and lack of DIY friendliness.
You can also start a lawn using grass plugs. Plugs are small sections of sod that are installed several inches apart. Once planted, the grass spreads to fill the gaps between each plug. While plugs are slightly quicker to establish than grass seed, I personally don’t think the difference alone is enough to warrant using plugs instead.
Sowing Grass Seed
In my experience, the most important factors affecting growth rate include temperature, moisture level, and soil quality. Cutting corners at any point in the planting process could delay your lawn’s growth.
Timing And Soil Temperature
Knowing when to plant grass seed is truly the secret to starting a lawn as quickly as possible. Each type of grass grows fastest when the soil is at a specific temperature. If you plant grass seed outside of this temperature range, the result will be lackluster at best.
The general advice is to plant warm-season grasses in late spring or summer and cool-season grasses in spring or fall. These seasons typically line up with each grass type’s preferred soil temperature for germination. You can use a soil thermometer to double-check the temperature before planting grass seeds.
Preparing The Soil For Sowing
A healthy, vigorous lawn starts well before any seed is actually sown. Preparation is especially key if you want to see fast results from your chosen grass seed. When optimal growth is the goal, I recommend prioritizing soil amendments, tilling, and pre-watering.
Soil amendments typically include things like aged compost or pH adjusters. I highly recommend adding organic material to the soil prior to sowing grass seed. Not only will this add natural nutrients to the soil but it will also improve the soil’s drainage and reduce compaction.
Tilling should only be done if the existing soil is compacted. Ideally, you should hand-till as you incorporate amendments into the soil. As you till, locate and remove weeds, large roots, rocks, and other debris from the first few inches of soil.
An oft-overlooked step in preparing for grass seed is to pre-water the soil. Watering the area several days before you plan to plant grass ensures that the soil is saturated several inches deep. This creates a moist surface for the seeds to adhere to and eventually grow roots into.
Planting Grass Seeds
Sow grass seed in the morning or evening to avoid the heat of mid-day. It’s crucial that fresh grass seed stays moist around the clock. If it dries out, germination may be delayed or the seeds may even die.
Choose a clear, wind-free day to plant grass seeds. While light rain will do no harm, you don’t want to risk heavy rainfall dislodging or carrying off the newly planted grass. Wind poses a similar problem.
Grass seeds need adequate moisture to germinate. Young and established lawns also need plenty of water to grow at their optimal rates. So if there’s one thing I recommend monitoring to improve grass growth, it’s irrigation.
New grass seed should be watered a couple of times per day until sprouts emerge. Water as often as needed to keep the soil’s surface consistently moist.
As your lawn matures, you can taper watering to once a day and then eventually to just a couple of times per week. Once your grass is several inches tall, you’ll want to transition to the recommended watering schedule for your specific grass species.
While a little bit of extra water won’t do any harm, it won’t improve growth either. Take into account things like rain and daytime temperatures that will affect how often your lawn needs to be watered.
Determining Your Grass Type
Knowing the best type of grass seeds for your climate is crucial not only to growth rate but also to overall success.
Turf grass is typically categorized as warm- or cool-season. Popular warm-season varieties include Bermuda, centipede, and buffalo grass. Cool-season varieties include Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, and perennial ryegrass.
You may also come across the term “transitional grass.” Common examples include fescues, ryegrass, and Kentucky bluegrass. These are (usually) cool-season grasses that also tolerate moderate heat. They are called transitional grasses because they bridge the gap between cool- and warm-season climates.
Warm-season grasses are suited to hot climates such as those in the southern third of the United States. As a rule, warm-season lawns have minimal cold tolerance. They also prefer full sun (with notable exceptions like St. Augustine and zoysia grass).
Warm-season grasses are categorized as such because they grow fastest when the weather is hot. The peak growing season for these varieties is between late spring and early fall. While warm-season grasses generally like heat they will still go dormant in extreme drought.
To get the most from your warm-season lawn, be sure to plant a seed in late spring or early summer. Sowing grass seeds right as the temperatures rise will speed up germination and growth. Most warm-season grasses germinate best when the soil temperature is at least 65°F.
Cool-season grasses actually prefer low temperatures. These varieties are ideal for cold and temperate climates such as those found throughout the upper half of North America. A cool-season lawn may stay green year-round in milder climates.
In contrast to warm-season grasses, these varieties grow most vigorously in the spring and fall. Cool-season lawns tend to exit dormancy very early in the year and continue growing well into late fall. However, summer heat and drought will turn these grasses yellow or brown.
Sow cool-season grass seed in early spring when the soil temperature is between 50°F and 60°F. You can also plant cool-season grasses in the fall — a practice known as dormant seeding. Either way, you want to ensure the grass has plenty of time to germinate and grow before summer arrives.
Verdict: Grass Seed For A Fast Lawn
Some of the most popular grass varieties are also the fastest-growing. This makes it easy to find grass seeds that will produce a high-quality lawn in relatively little time. You may even discover that a blend of two or more grass varieties I’ve recommended here is ideal for your lawn.
Keep in mind that the exact type of grass seed you plant is only part of the puzzle. For rapid germination and growth, you’ll also need to prepare and maintain the area for several weeks after seeding.
While the growth rate is important, choosing a grass seed that will serve your home and family for the foreseeable future is a far better investment.
There’s a good chance you’ll find a vigorous grass species that meets those needs, though it might not be the fastest-growing variety out there. Just remember that waiting a few extra days for your lawn to germinate will be well worth it if the grass is a better fit for your needs overall.