It’s spring and you’re looking out on your lawn thinking that it’s time to lay down some seed. You meant to do it last year and you even bought a bag or two, but you never got around to actually doing the deed. Now you’re wondering, “Does grass seed expire?” If you don’t have to buy more grass seed, you don’t want to, right? So, knowing this answer can not only save you some money but lessen your waste.
And once you know how to care for grass seed, it becomes much easier to know if it’s expired or not.
Does Grass Seed Expire?
Yes, grass seed does expire. However, there’s a big difference between “expired” and “dead” for grass seeds.
When items that we eat — such as prepared goods or fruits — expire, that item can no longer be used for its original purpose. With grass, it isn’t quite the same. Expired grass seeds are less likely to germinate when planted, meaning they may not sprout.
Because of this, expired seeds still can be planted. But there’s no guarantee whether they will or will not sprout.
When you find a bag that’s expired, don’t throw it out! There’s a chance they’ll sprout if you plant them, so while they aren’t something you can depend on, there’s no reason to toss them all.
When does grass seed expire? The bag that the seeds were sold in likely has an expiration date on it, but those dates are often estimated. The seeds are not all exactly the same age, so they won’t expire on one set date.
In fact, they won’t be expiring anywhere near the same time as each other.
That’s because each individual seed has its own lifespan. “Expired” may mean that half of the grass is dead while the other half is perfectly fine and waiting to sprout. Each seed lives its own life.
That means you don’t have to worry about the entire bag of rice rotting away simultaneously.
You can also improve and extend the shelf life with proper care and storage. The shelf life of grass — the amount of time it can be stored before it expires — is around 2 to 3 years. That’s assuming you store it properly.
Proper storage, according to the Oregon State University Seed Laboratory, is temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and at low humidity. The cooler you can have it the better, but never let it freeze.
Freezing will immediately kill the grass seed. You’ll also want to have proper airflow and ventilation in the area to help with keeping moisture and heat down.
That means that a hot, humid summer is one of the worst things possible for your grass seed. Leaving it in an uncontrolled atmosphere like an outdoor shed will lower its shelf life drastically, so care for it.
When storing the grass seed, check often for moisture or rot. Moisture seeping into the storage container will hasten the growth and spread of mold and rot, destroying it swiftly.
You’ll also want to keep it in a rodent and pest-proof container to stop anything from eating the seeds before you plant them.
Test for life
When worrying about an expiration date, plant a few seeds and wait a week or so to see if they sprout. Place them in a small container with a wet paper towel and leave them in direct sunlight.
If most of them sprout, then your seeds are likely good to go. If few or none of them sprout, it’s a safe bet that most of the bag will also fail to germinate.
Just make sure your sample size is big enough — a teaspoon or so should do.
It’s a good idea to do some research into the brand and type of grass seed you’re using. Higher quality brands will provide more pure seed, whereas some lower quality products may fluff out their bags with chaff and other non-seed foliage.
Obviously, you want as much of your bag of grass seeds to be grass seeds, so aim for higher purity.
Type and freshness
As far as the type of grass, you’ll find some that last longer than others.
For example, ryegrass has the longest shelf life at five years. Again, that’s assuming it’s kept in ideal storage conditions — below 60 degrees F, low humidity, ventilation, no moisture, no pests.
With all that said, it’s best to keep your products fresh either way. Buying grass seed in bulk makes sense for landscapers and those with massive lawns, but you should only ever buy what you know you’ll use.
The sooner you get it in the ground, the sooner it’ll sprout, so leaving it in storage for a while will always make it a bit inferior to fresh seeds.
Any storage time is time where the seeds can be dying. Getting them in the ground as fast as possible means you won’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll expire.
Does grass seed expire? Yes, but that won’t be an issue if you use them while they’re still fresh!
Out to the Field
With all of that said, we have our answer. Does grass seed expire? It certainly can, but it won’t expire all at once, and expired doesn’t mean unusable. Do your best to store your grass seeds properly to ensure that that their expiration doesn’t come soon.
Making sure that storage is kept up to snuff is the most important part. After that, just make sure that you’re planting the grass within a reasonable amount of time. Your grass will be looking healthy and full in no time.
Have you tried planting expired grass seed? Tell us about how it turned out in the comments!
Last update on 2021-10-23 at 14:10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API