If you’ve got a bare spot in the lawn and an old bag of grass seed in the shed, it may seem as though your troubles are over. Before sprinkling that seed and nurturing it carefully, however, you should ask yourself how long can you store grass seed and how long has this been here? The germination rate of grass seed decreases with age so, while hope springs eternal, your grass seed may not.
If you know you’ll be storing at least some of the grass seed you buy, buying well is the first step to proper storage. Find and purchase the seed with the expiration date furthest away just as you do when you buy milk at the grocery store. This video shows you exactly where and why to look for this date. Buying high quality seed will also increase your odds of successfully storing any unused portion. High quality seed will contain the following, which should be listed on the package:
• Less than 0.5% weeds • No noxious weeds • Filler material such as chaff or dirt in quantities less than 2% • No more than 2% other crops
It’s always important to give your grass seed the best possible start in life, but old seed may require extra diligence. Be sure to water your seed twice a day to keep the top inch of soil moist until the seed germinates. Once germination occurs, water every day. When your grass reaches about 3 inches in height, begin mowing as you normally would. You can resume your normal watering schedule after you have mowed your new grass once or twice. Make sure your seeds don’t dry out and avoid covering the seed with straw as it may harbor unwanted weeds. Instead, cover the seeds with a thin layer of lawns soil. Though fresher is always better when it comes to plant seeds, properly stored grass seed can be viable for 2 to 3 years. Some varieties, like rye grass, will last even longer. It is important to keep insects, rodents and humidity away from your grass seed when storing it and make sure the seed isn’t allowed to freeze. Depending on how cold winter gets where you live, this makes storing unused seed in the garage or basement a better option than keeping it in a garden shed where temperatures are more likely to fluctuate. For best results both before and after storing seeds, always buy high quality grass seed and take proper care of it for the first few weeks after sowing.