At what temperature does grass stop germinating?

Grass germination is highly dependent on temperature. The optimal temperature range for grass seed germination is between 15-30°C (59-86°F). Temperatures above and below this range can inhibit or stop grass seed germination.

Grass seeds require certain temperature conditions to germinate successfully. The germination temperature range varies by grass species, but most common lawn and turf grasses prefer a soil temperature between 15-30°C (59-86°F). Temperatures above or below this optimal range can slow or stop the germination process.

There are a few key reasons why temperature affects grass seed germination:

  • Enzyme activity – The enzymes involved in germination work best within an optimal temperature range. Too hot or cold and enzyme activity slows down or stops.
  • Water uptake – Temperature affects the rate at which seeds can absorb water from the soil. Insufficient water uptake prevents germination.
  • Respiration – Grass seeds need oxygen to respire during germination. Temperature affects the respiration rate.

By understanding the ideal temperature conditions for germination of different grass species, you can time your grass seeding and ensure the highest germination rates.

Minimum Temperature for Grass Germination

Most grass species have a minimum germination temperature around 10-15°C (50-59°F). Below this temperature range, the grass seeds will remain dormant and not germinate. The enzyme activity within the seed is too slow and respiration rates are too low to initiate germination in colder soil temperatures.

The minimum soil temperature required for germination of some common lawn and turf grasses include:

Grass Type Minimum Germination Temperature
Kentucky Bluegrass 15°C (59°F)
Perennial Ryegrass 10°C (50°F)
Tall Fescue 15°C (59°F)
Bermudagrass 15.5°C (60°F)
Zoysia 15.5°C (60°F)

These minimum temperatures indicate when grass seed germination may begin to occur. However, the rate of germination will still be very slow until soil temperatures reach closer to the optimal range.

Optimal Temperature for Grass Germination

The ideal temperature range for maximum germination rate of most lawn and turf grasses is approximately 15-30°C (59-86°F). Within this optimal zone, the enzymes, respiration, and water uptake needed for germination can all proceed at the right pace.

Here are the optimal temperature ranges for several common grass species:

Grass Type Optimal Germination Temperature
Kentucky Bluegrass 15-24°C (59-75°F)
Perennial Ryegrass 15-30°C (59-86°F)
Tall Fescue 15-30°C (59-86°F)
Bermudagrass 20-35°C (68-95°F)
Zoysia 24-35°C (75-95°F)

Seeding grass within its optimal temperature range will produce rapid, uniform germination in the shortest period of time. The warmer end of the optimal range tends to produce the fastest germination.

Maximum Temperature for Grass Germination

There is also an upper limit at which temperatures become too hot for proper grass seed germination. Maximum germination temperatures vary somewhat by species, but most grasses will cease germination above 30-35°C (86-95°F).

At very high temperatures, the grass seeds risk damage to enzymes and other structures involved in germination. Water uptake from the soil can also be insufficient due to rapid evaporation.

Here are approximate maximum germination temperatures for some common lawn grasses:

Grass Type Maximum Germination Temperature
Kentucky Bluegrass 29°C (85°F)
Perennial Ryegrass 30°C (86°F)
Tall Fescue 30°C (86°F)
Bermudagrass 35°C (95°F)
Zoysia 35°C (95°F)

If temperatures exceed these thresholds for an extended time, the grass seeds may lose viability and die. Brief periods above the maximum germination temperatures are less damaging, especially if soil moisture levels remain adequate.

Ideal Soil Temperatures for Planting Grass Seed

Knowing the full range of temperatures suitable for germination can help guide the ideal planting times for various grass species. Some tips for planting based on soil temperature include:

  • Cool season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue prefer spring and fall planting when soil temps are 15-24°C (59-75°F).
  • Warm season grasses like Bermuda and zoysia do best with late spring/early summer planting when soils are 20-30°C (65-85°F).
  • Measure soil temperature at the desired seeding depth, usually 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch deep.
  • Morning soil temps tend to be lowest, so base planting times on warmest part of day.
  • Use soil thermometers placed at seeding depth to monitor for ideal temperature range.

Paying close attention to soil temperatures can help ensure grass seeds are planted when the conditions are ideal for germination. If planting outside the optimal temperature range, pre-germinating seeds may improve results.

Effects of High and Low Temperature on Grass Germination

Understanding the effects of different temperature extremes on grass seed germination can further illustrate why the optimal range is important:

Effects of Low Temperature

  • Slow enzyme activity stops metabolic processes
  • Slow respiration limits energy production
  • Slow water uptake from soil
  • Increased fungal disease infection risk
  • Slower cell division and growth

All of these effects of cold temperatures lead to delayed, uneven, or complete failure of grass seed germination.

Effects of High Temperature

  • Protein denaturation damages enzyme function
  • Increased respiration can deplete food reserves
  • Rapid drying of soil reduces water availability
  • Oxidative damage to cells from free radicals
  • Loss of seed viability and death at extreme highs

These damaging effects of excessive heat reduce the success and uniformity of grass germination. Seeds may die off before emerging as seedlings.

Improving Germination in Cool Soils

If sowing grass seed outside of the ideal temperature range, there are a few strategies that can help compensate for suboptimal conditions:

Warm Soil with Protective Covers

Covering seeded areas with protective materials like straw mulch, burlap, or special germination blankets can retain heat and create a warmer microclimate for seeds. This allows growth to begin at lower soil temperatures.

Pre-Germinate Seeds Indoors

Starting grass seeds indoors where warmth and moisture can be controlled may produce partially germinated seeds that are more tolerant when planted into cool soils.

Use Cold-Tolerant Grass Varieties

Certain cool season grass cultivars are bred specifically for better germination in cold. Using these varieties can improve results when sowing in early spring or late fall.

Apply Germination Aids

Treatment products containing hormones, enzymes, or vitamins may help stimulate the germination process in cold soils. However, results can be inconsistent.

Maintaining Moisture for Seed Germination

Along with proper temperatures, adequate moisture is crucial for grass seed germination. The soil needs to stay consistently moist but not waterlogged to enable seeds to take up sufficient water.

General tips for maintaining soil moisture include:

  • Water seeded areas frequently but lightly to keep top 1⁄2 inch of soil moist
  • Avoid heavy rainfalls that can wash away seeds or create puddling
  • Use light, frequent misting instead of deep soaking when sowing seeds
  • Cover seeded regions with straw mulch to reduce evaporation
  • Avoid walking on newly seeded areas to prevent compaction

Monitoring moisture levels in the seeding zone and adjusting watering accordingly will encourage the best germination rates.


Understanding the ideal temperature range for grass seed germination (15-30°C or 59-86°F) can ensure success when planting or overseeding lawns. Measuring soil temperatures and timing seeding accordingly provides the right conditions for rapid, uniform germination.

Going outside this optimal zone due to early spring or late fall planting may require added measures like pre-germination, warm season grass varieties, or protective covers to achieve satisfactory germination. But paying close attention to temperatures and moisture will ultimately determine germination success.

Leave a Comment