Will Grass Grow If Not Covered?

By PropertyClub Team
Oct 5th 2021
If you have bare patches on your lawn, seeding is the first step you need to take to return your green surface to its complete state. While it can seem easy enough to put seed on the patch and leave it, this might not be the best way to grow your grass. That leaves us with a vital question - will grass grow if it’s not covered?

Although grass can grow if it’s not covered, it’s much harder to succeed with this strategy. Covering it helps with everything from moisture retention to root development. Material on top serves as a cushion for seeds against the elements and dangers of the world outside.

Still confused? Not a problem! Let’s dive a little further into seeding your lawn. We’ll talk about the logic behind covering your grass, the best materials for doing so, and how to prepare your soil for new grass to take root.

hash-markWhy Your Grass Should Be Covered

Although your grass doesn’t need to be covered, it will fare better against the elements and other challenges if you make the extra effort to protect it. Germination of the grass seed can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Coverage allows it to reach this state without too much trouble.

But, what are some specific reasons why your grass should be covered? Some of the most critical include:

  • Runoff damage prevention
  • Animal defense
  • Root development assistance
  • Moisture lockage

These make covering your grass the better option for a beautiful lawn.

Let’s discuss a few that matter the most so you can get a better idea of why this extra effort is necessary when seeding your lawn.

Runoff Damage Prevention

Runoff is liquid that comes from heavy weather, such as a rainstorm. Runoff can be light, or it can summon a river in your lawn. If your seeds aren’t covered, they could potentially wash away when the liquid pushes through your yard.

If the seeds wash away:

  • They can’t take root
  • They may grow elsewhere
  • You will need to replant.

You’ll have to start all over again. 

With a covering, your seeds will have time to take root so they can defend themselves the next time the weather acts up. Until then, they need help from you to stay safe.

Defense Against Animals

Many animals have a particular taste for grass seed. If you leave it out in the open without cover, there’s a chance the seed could end up in someone’s stomach instead of taking root in the ground.

Some animals that might eat your grass seed if it’s left out include:

  • Birds
  • Opossums
  • Raccoons

These will munch on your new additions if you’re not careful.

It’s cheaper to cover your seeds than it will be to replace them every time they get eaten. To be extra prepared, you can also surround your covered seed with chicken wire to ensure unwanted eaters stay off your new patch of lawn.

Root Development Assistance

Most seeds take at least a few days to germinate, and that’s if the temperature is ideal for the plants to take root. On average, grass seed needs somewhere between two to four weeks to germinate. During this time, the seed is especially vulnerable to threats from the outside world.

If you use a lawnmower regularly in your yard, covering the seeds will help you see where to avoid as you trim the grass. Until the seeds germinate, they are not strong enough to stand up against outside forces as strong as a lawnmower or even a tough wind. Covering them keeps them safe until they can stand on their own.

Moisture Lockage

To germinate, grass seeds need soil at a certain temperature and moistness. Leaving seed out in the open increases the chances that it will dry out before it can take root. A top layer traps moisture beneath, warming up the soil at the same time.

Both the seeds and soil need to be protected for successful grass growth. Dried-out seeds won’t grow, and dried-out soil is not an environment grass seed can thrive in and take root. Cover your grass to give it the best chance at survival.

hash-markHow to Prepare Soil for New Grass

Before you can put your extra layer on top of the seed, you’ll need to prepare the soil for the incoming seeds. A top cover can only do so much if you have poor soil waiting for the grass seed underneath. There are a few steps you can take to ensure your base layer is as excellent as it can be for your new life.

To prepare the soil for new grass, you should:

  • Test the pH level, which should be between about 6.2 and 7.0
  • Aerate the soil for better water intake and airflow
  • Rake the soil to create growing points for the grass seed

These will allow your grass seed to take root when you first plant it.

Once you’ve prepared your soil for grass, you can worry about the top layer that will work to protect it from outside harm. Let’s go over some of the prominent forms of grass seed cover so you can determine which one will work best for you.

hash-markBest Choices to Cover Grass

We’ve talked about some of the reasons covering grass is recommended for growth, but we haven’t discussed the best materials for covering grass. You can’t just use anything to protect the seeds as they germinate. A few materials stand out above the rest as ideal grass seed covers.

The best include:

  • Straw Mulch
  • Lawn clippings
  • Bagged grass seed mulch
  • Topsoil/compost

These will work well to keep your seed safe and help it grow.

Let’s talk a little more about each of these coverings so you can get a better idea of which one will work for you. All provide a solid defense for the future of your patch of grass.

Straw Mulch

Straw mulch is one of the best covers you can utilize for your grass, but it’s not one that many think of when considering a protective layer. Invest in seedless straw for the best results, to avoid mixing up seeds in your grass-growing process.

Once you have your straw, spread a thin layer over the top of the seeds. You don’t want to pile it on, or the seeds won’t get enough light or air. Keep it thin enough for everything to circulate while keeping it thick enough to keep the delicate seedlings underneath safe.

Straw is relatively inexpensive to find. You don’t need too much to cover, since this material is thicker than other covering varieties. 

Lawn Clippings

Lawn clippings are secondary to straw in what they offer for grass seeds. As with the straw, you want to spread them evenly so the air and light can still push through the protective layer. Be careful, as lawn clippings can blend in and be tricky to avoid with a lawnmower.

Lawn clippings are excellent because they’re free. Simple bag and dry them the night before use so they can be as effective as possible. As time goes on, these clippings will decompose and help your rooted seeds to sprout into a new life.

Bagged Grass Seed Mulch

Bagged grass seed mulch also serves as an excellent grass cover. This material is specifically made for grass seed, so you can be sure that the contents will benefit your filler patch. If it’s made properly, bagged grass seed mulch should break down and provide your seeds with nutrients over time. It’s also lighter and thinner than other mulches.

You can find bagged grass seed mulch either online or at your local plant nursery. It should specify that it’s for grass seed right on the front of the bag.


Topsoil or compost is one of the best choices for a grass seed covering. It holds in moisture well and won’t suffocate the grass hidden underneath. It also serves as a fertilizer. You can find topsoil or compost on Amazon or a local plant nursery.

When you spread topsoil, you’ll need to use a compost spreader or rake it out. Don’t stack it too thick, or your seeds won’t be able to breathe. You can even make compost at home with food scraps. 

hash-markCan You Avoid Covering Your Grass?

If you want to, can you get away with leaving your grass seed uncovered? Will it still grow?

Grass seed can grow uncovered. However, it’s a high-maintenance plant and will require coddling to avoid a replanting process. You’ll need to be diligent about watering the seeds and ensuring they are clear of birds and lawnmowers daily.

Although it can grow without covering, grass takes root best with an extra layer on top. Save yourself some time and give protection to save yourself money and time. We promise it’s going to be worth it when all is said and done.