Grass is a vital part of our lives, and we depend on it for many things. It provides food for cows and other animals as well as fuel to heat homes. But how long can you keep the seeds after buying them before they start to lose their effectiveness? And what happens when those seeds are exposed to moisture or even extreme temperatures?
Let’s begin by answering some basic questions about storing and maintaining your lawn in order to make sure that grass seed doesn’t become useless over time.
How Long Does Grass Seed Keep?
If you buy grass seed from an area store like Home Depot or Lowe’s, then there will be expiration dates listed somewhere on the packaging. The date may say something like “expires 4/20/2024″ which means that once April 20th hits, the product won’t last much longer than another six months until its next expiration date (which could also fall during summer).
There’s no set rule here, but just know that these products have short shelf lives due to factors such as sunlight exposure, temperature fluctuations, and humidity levels. If you live in an extremely humid climate where seeds don’t dry out quickly, this timeline probably applies less to you.
As far as whether out-of-date seeds should still germinate, yes—as long as you take proper care of them. We’ll talk more about that later.
Do Expired Seeds Still Grow?
Yes! Just because the package says it has an expiration date does not mean that all hope is lost. As long as you follow the instructions correctly, any grass seed purchased at most major retail stores will continue to grow into healthy plants. However, there are certain precautions you need to take so you don’t accidentally do damage to the turf itself with improper maintenance methods.
The best way to maintain a good lawn through the seasons is to use the right type of grass, properly fertilize, water regularly, mow often, and limit weed growth. You want to avoid using pesticides since they kill beneficial insects that help improve the overall health of the soil, promote disease development, harm pollinators, and disrupt the natural ecosystem of earthworms and other creatures living below ground level. Also, never dig up your yard without carefully removing the topsoil first. This helps protect the underlying layer from being contaminated by dirt particles blown around nearby streets.
Now let’s look at ways to store your grass seed so that it stays fresh for years to come.
How To Store Grass Seed?
There are three main types of storage options available for people who purchase grass seed online: sealed plastic bags, glass jars, and airtight containers made specifically for storing bulk quantities of seeds. Each method has pros and cons associated with it; however, I personally prefer glass jar seed storage because it allows me to see exactly how much seed is inside each container while keeping germs away and allowing room enough for expansion. Plus, unlike plastic bags, you aren’t stuck trying to seal one end with tape every time you open the lid—you simply remove the bag from the jar and reuse it again.
Here’s my general advice regarding the best approach for storing your own grass seed depending on how much you plan on purchasing:
Buy only as much seed per square foot of growing space as you think you’ll actually use. That amount depends entirely on your personal preferences. Some gardeners swear by starting multiple batches that get planted throughout the spring, while others stick to one batch per year. It really comes down to your gardening style and goals. Don’t try to save money by ordering too little unless you absolutely must reduce costs.
Store in a cool place. Ideally, your home would serve as both your greenhouse AND garage, but if that isn’t feasible, choose an indoor location such as a pantry or basement. Never leave seed packages unprotected outside during winter or hot weather. These conditions can cause the seeds to sprout prematurely, making them vulnerable to pests and diseases.
Avoid direct sunlight. Even though sun rays provide essential warmth needed for the plants to develop roots, prolonged periods of intense sunlight can burn leaves and stems faster than normal. Try to rotate plant placement annually to prevent scorching spots caused by excessive light.
Use a commercial fertilizer.
Fertilizers contain nutrients necessary for seedling growth, plus they help strengthen new root systems and sturdy young blades against splitting. In addition to providing nourishment, fertilizer keeps weeds at bay and prevents the spread of harmful pathogens that can infect newly emerging shoots. Mixing a slow-release nitrogen source with a high phosphorus variety gives you greater control over feeding schedules, helping you better manage your lawn’s needs.
For example, granular versions tend to break apart easily and require watering frequently, whereas liquid mixes stay put and give consistent coverage over several weeks. Since different varieties excel under specific environmental circumstances, consider investing in the kind of seed that grows best in your local region.
Reuse old seed packets. Once opened, the contents might seem spoiled and unusable, but they can be saved indefinitely by adding a bit of baking soda to absorb excess moisture. Simply sprinkle a thin paste of baking soda over dampened paper towels and allow it sit overnight. Then toss extra sheets into the trash to dispose of them safely. You can also use this trick to freshen up used tea bags, coffee grounds and other dried goods that you usually discard.
Be careful handling old seed pouches or papers containing moldy seeds, as they may produce toxic fumes upon drying.
Keep the lid closed tightly. After opening the lid, reseal immediately with packing material and replace the cap back onto the jar. Unsealed seeds can emit gasses called mercaptans that attract bugs and rodents. Use breathable materials like newspaper instead.
Remove the label. Most manufacturers print labels covering important information including harvest times, planting depth, recommended height, etc., directly onto the seed packet. Before tossing unused seeds, peel off the label and tear it into pieces to avoid contaminating compost piles. A few strips left behind can suffocate delicate microorganisms present within decomposing organic matter.
Reasons Your Grass Seeds Didn’t Grow
There are many factors that contribute to whether or not grass will grow properly. Some of these causes include:
– Poor Soil Conditions
– Diseases & Pests
– Lack Of Water
– High Temperatures
– Over Sowing
A majority of these problems can usually be avoided through proper planning. For example, over sowing should never happen unless an area was accidentally seeded twice. However, sometimes even with all precautions being taken, grass seed may still fail to sprout. Here’s what you need to know about grass seed expiration dates.
How Long Do Grass Seeds Last?
Grass seed lasts between one year and two years. Because each type of grass is different, the length of their life span also varies. According to research done by scientists at Iowa State University, here’s an approximate estimate based off average data:
– Spring Oat: 1 Year
– Blue Fescue: 2 Years
– Tall Fescue: 1 Year
– Kentucky Bluegrass: 4 Years
– Bahuska Ryegrass: 5 Years
If you’re looking to plant more than one variety of grass seed then make sure to look up which varieties last longer so you don’t run out before your new plants get established enough.
What Causes Grass Seed To Go Bad?
Over time, grass loses its nutritional value making it harder for it to survive. After several seasons, the outer leaves start falling off causing the blades to turn brown. At this point, the grass seed begins to lose its effectiveness. It’s important to keep track of the age of your grass seed supply since once this happens, no amount of watering will save it. Once the top layer falls off, the only thing left is dry grass clippings. Depending on where you live, these grass clippings might pose health risks such as spreading weeds, attracting insects, etc…
Here are a few signs that indicate that your grass seed has gone bad:
1) You see small amounts of white mold around the edges of the grass blade
2) There are large holes in the turf
3) The grass appears dried out
4) The grass seems weak
5) Stems appear brittle
6) Brown areas seem darker than other parts of the grass
7) A strong smell of ammonia emanates from the grass
8) The roots begin breaking apart into pieces
9) Large patches of dead grass remain uncollected
10) Turf looks wet but doesn’t drain easily
11) Turf shows evidence of having been recently mowed
12) Leaves fall continuously
13) Grasses die suddenly without showing any visible symptoms
You want to avoid letting grass seed get past its prime just like people would do with fruits and vegetables. Keeping track of its current state is key towards preventing this problem.
Is It Safe To Use Old Or Expired Grass Seed?
It depends on what kind of grass you use. Most grass brands won’t hurt you. They’ll likely perform better than fresh ones however, which makes expired grass seed worth purchasing. Just follow our tips below to ensure that you always purchase safe grass seed.
Step #1 – Always Purchase From Certified Retailers
One of the easiest ways to spot unsafe grass seed is to find retailers who sell products directly from farmers instead of big distributors. These companies often allow farmers to set their own prices and quality standards meaning that you can buy direct from growers saving money while ensuring safer seed. Another benefit is knowing exactly how long ago your seed was harvested. By using certified retail locations, you eliminate the risk of buying contaminated seed or misusing labels.
Step #2 – Buy Only Freshly Milled Grass Seed
Freshly milling ensures that the seed used hasn’t already lost its potency. Many times, manufacturers process bulk orders quickly and cut corners in order to maximize profits. As mentioned earlier, this decreases the overall nutrient content of the product making it weaker and vulnerable to disease.
Step #3 – Test Before Using New Grass
Once you’ve found a reputable retailer, testing your new grass seed is crucial, especially during hot summers. Testing helps you decide if the seed is worthwhile continuing to use next season. While testing, spread your new seed evenly over a section of your lawn. Then wait 24 hours to check for growth. Make notes regarding the color, thickness, height and density of the resulting grass. Based on these results, you’ll now understand if you want to continue seeding or switch brands.
With these simple guidelines in mind, you now understand why grass seed goes bad quicker than you expect. Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge, you can confidently pursue future endeavors involving outdoor cooking, landscaping projects or any number of other DIY hobbies and activities. Happy seeding!