We all want a great-looking lawn. And we want it now! Unfortunately, there is no magic product out there that will give you a lush lawn overnight.
But there are a few things you can do to assure the work you put into your new lawn will bring stunning results in as little time as possible. For that, you’ll need to choose the best grass type for your climate and determine if starting your lawn from seed or laying sod will be better for your particular situation.
Whichever direction you choose to take your new lawn, you will need a solid plan, both for putting in the new lawn and for maintaining it for months to come. We’re here to help you put that plan together.
Which Grass Type is Best?
When it comes to the best type of grass for fast lawn growth, there is no one answer. And, narrowing down the answer depends largely on where you live.
Different types of grass grow better in different environments. Warm season grass, as its name suggests, grows best in hot climates that don’t experience a lot of cold weather or temperature swings. Cool season grass, on the other hand, thrives in cold winters and high variations in temperature from season to season.
So, how is the weather like in your area? Once you know that, then you can move on to select the exact type of mix to suit your needs.
Fastest Growing Cool Season Grass
Cool season grasses grow best at temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees. They are also more tolerant of cold winters and hot summers than warm season grasses. Cool season grass is best suited for the Northeast, upper Midwest, upper West, and the Pacific Northwest.
These types of grasses are most active (read: greenest) in the spring and fall. In the hottest months and during very cold winters, they will turn yellow and go dormant. In milder regions, cool season grass will stay green throughout the winter.
The fastest-growing grass seed types in the cool season variety are:
- Ryegrass – germinates in 7 to 10 days
- Rough Bluegrass – germinates in 7 to 10 days
- Tall Fescue – germinates in 7 to 14 days
- Kentucky Bluegrass – germinates in 14 to 28 days
Ryegrass, rough bluegrass, and tall fescue will establish into dense lawn within 5 to 8 weeks after seeding. Kentucky bluegrass takes longer to germinate but establishes nearly as quickly as the other varieties.
Fastest Growing Warm Season Grass
Warm season grass grows best at high temperatures and is most active between 75 and 90 degrees. These types do not do well with large temperature swings and will turn yellow and go dormant at cold temperatures. Warm season grasses are best suited for regions such as the Southwest, Deep South, and Southeast.
In climates that experience warm summers and mild winters, warm season grass will stay green throughout the year. It will grow most actively during the late spring and early fall.
The fastest-growing warm season grass types are:
- Bermuda Grass – germinates in 7 to 10 days
- Centipede Grass – germinates in 14 to 21 days
- Buffalo Grass – germinates in 14 to 30 days
Bermuda and buffalo grass will mature into dense lawn in about 6 to 11 weeks after seeding. Centipede grass has a slightly shorter window at about 6 to 9 ½ weeks.
A Note on Transition Zones
If you live in a transition zone—think upper South and lower Midwest—then you likely experience hot summers with greater variation in temperature during the winter. For you, choosing a grass mix that contains both cool season and warm season varieties will help you achieve a greener lawn all year long.
Methods for Growing Grass Fast
If you have a full area of yard that needs new grass fast, you have two options. You can seed the area or lay down sod. Both have their own pros and cons in terms of cost and the amount of work required.
If the problem isn’t so much that you have bare earth but rather yellow, unsightly lawn, you may be able to revive your dead grass rather than spending the time and money to replace it.
Laying sod involves putting down rolled carpets of pre-grown grass onto prepared dirt. This method of creating new lawn has some notable pros and cons.
- Beautiful-looking lawn almost immediately
- Simple to care for once installed
- Lush, even lawn with one pass
- Requires a lot of upfront labor
- Requires a lot of water for initial upkeep
Additionally, due to the degree of labor required for installing sod, most homeowners will be better off hiring a professional to do the work. This adds significantly to the overall cost of the project.
Varieties of Sod
Not all grass types lend themselves well to creating sod. And some types are certainly easier to find at your local sod farms than others.
Some of the most popular types of sod are:
- Zoysia – a warm season grass that is perfect for tropical and arid climates.
- Bermuda grass – a fast-growing warm season grass that is tough and easy to care for.
- Centipede – another fast-growing warm season grass that does well in sandy soils.
- Kentucky Bluegrass – a cool season grass that performs best when laid as sod.
- Tall Fescue – a fast-growing cool season grass that grows well in the shade.
Some grass varieties, like Kentucky bluegrass, take a while to germinate but grow quickly once they have established. These types are best installed as sod so you can take advantage of their active growth without having to wait out the longer germination times.
Maintenance and Upkeep of Sod
Once sod is well established, it becomes fairly easy to care for. The thick, pre-grown mats provide little room for weeds to grow and, assuming the sod is laid well, you won’t have to deal with any bare spots.
But sod will require a lot of attention early on.
For the first two weeks, the sod will need to be kept moist but not soggy. This requires multiple short daily watering sessions—up to six times a day in arid climates. During the third week, you can begin reducing the number of watering sessions and increasing the watering time for those that remain to allow for deeper moisture penetration.
Avoid walking on new sod for the first two weeks. After this, light traffic is okay but avoid heavy use for the first month. You can mow your new lawn about 14 days after it is installed if needed.
To learn how to take care of your new lawn past this initial establishment period, check out our lawn maintenance plan.
How To Lay Sod
If you choose to lay sod yourself, you will want to pay extra attention to the soil prep as well as the rollout of the new lawn. Here are the basic steps for installing your new sod.
- Use a rototiller to loosen the soil to a depth of about 6 to 8 inches.
- Add fertilizer or compost to the area and till it to mix it into the soil.
- Level the soil to a depth of about 1 inch below edging and sidewalks.
- Water the soil thoroughly 2 days before installing the sod.
- Start laying the sod along a straight line. Line up each piece straight against the next and pat down to remove air pockets.
- Lay each additional row by staggering the joints to avoid obvious lines in the lawn.
- Fill in any gaps with smaller pieces and fill the seams with topsoil.
- Use a turf roller to force the grass roots into contact with the soil.
- Water thoroughly and keep the sod moist throughout the day for at least one month.
Plant Grass Seed
Sowing grass seed will not get you a lush, dense lawn as quickly as installing sod, but it will save you money and requires less physical labor upfront. Here are a few more pros and cons of planting grass seed.
- Less expensive
- Easy to do yourself
- Uses less water
- More likely to result in patchy lawn
- Have to fight weeds until lawn is established
- Seeds can get washed away before they sprout
In the end, choosing between sod and sowing usually comes down to your budget and how much work you are willing to put into the process.
Varieties of Grass Seed
Most types of grass are available in seed form and can be sowed directly to create a thick, lush lawn.
For direct sowing, we recommend all the fast-growing varieties of warm and cool season grasses listed in the first section of this article with the exception of Kentucky bluegrass. Even though this type of grass grows quickly once it germinates, the long period before germination increases the likelihood it will be washed away by a storm before it sets.
Maintenance and Upkeep of Grass Seed
Once the seed is down, sowed lawn is much easier to care for than newly planted sod.
The seeds will need to be watered once daily to keep the area moist and encourage germination. Use the mist setting on your hose or a very light sprinkler setting to assure full coverage without displacing the seed. Once the grass germinates, increase how much water you are applying at each session and slowly begin spacing those sessions out.
Just as with fresh sod, try to keep people and pets off the area for as long as possible. Once the new grass has reached a height of about 3 inches, you can begin mowing, but keep your mower set high to avoid over stressing the new grass.
How To Grow Grass From Seed Fast
Just as with sod, the key to fast-growing lawn seed is in the soil prep. If you have very compact soil, you’ll want to rent a rototiller to loosen it. For less compact soil and smaller areas, you can loosen the soil by hand.
Here are the basic steps for seeding your own lawn:
- Prep the soil by tilling or turning it to loosen.
- Level the ground, adding a top layer of turf building lawn soil or fertilizer as needed.
- Apply your chosen seed using a seed spreader or by hand. Be sure to follow the spreading density guidelines outlined on the product.
- Use a rake to lightly mix the seed with the top layer of soil.
- Press the seed into the soil and compact the area by stepping on it or using a light roller.
- If your area experiences heavy rain or very hot days, cover the seeds with a thin layer of peat or fine mulch to help protect them.
- Water the area thoroughly with a fine mist or light sprinkler but do not allow it to get soggy.
Here are some commonly asked questions concerning caring for a new lawn.
Do you need to fertilize a new lawn?
The best time to add fertilizer is during the soil prep process. This will help give your new grass or sod a head start. You won’t need to fertilize again until about six weeks after germination. When you do, consider using one of our choices for the best organic lawn fertilizer to better support your soil and the planet.
Can you put down too much grass seed?
Yes, it is possible to put down too much grass seed. Grass, like all plants, needs a little breathing room to develop. Follow the spread-density guidelines outlined on the seed package for the best results.
Will grass seed grow if I just throw it down?
Some of the grass seeds are likely to germinate if you use this technique to seed your lawn, but the final result is likely to be lacking. Thorough soil prep, balanced seed application, and mixing and pressing the seed into the soil are all key to growing a lush, dense lawn.
The Wrap Up
To grow grass faster, you need to start by choosing the right quick-growing grass seed for your climate, whether that be a cool-season type, a warm-season variety, or a mix of both. Once you have the right grass, soil prep and dedicated watering will assure your new lawn or sod establishes quickly to give you a lush lawn in no time.