Montana Grass Seed
Growing turfgrass in Montana can get tricky. Because it experiences four seasons, you need to know the best grasses to grow to accommodate seasonal changes throughout the year.
The weather requires a specific set of grass seeds with various characteristics and qualities that you can choose from. There are factors like soil quality and maintenance tips you have to consider to decide which grass seed to use on your lawn.
This post will make it easy for you to navigate the process of not only choosing the best grass seed to grow but also maintaining them to ensure the natural beauty of your lawn.
Montana’s Climate and Planting Zone
Montana is divided into two sections: the mountainous western portion and the eastern part with tracts of prairie. This is due to the Continental divide, mountainous peaks that separate the Atlantic and Pacific drainage basins of the United States.
The divide influences the weather and climate. It makes the cold air from eastern Montana passing through to the western path difficult. As a result, eastern Montana’s winter temperatures are generally cooler than the western.
The average temperature is 36.8°F. Summertime has an average temperature of 85°F while the winter season has an approximate temperature of 0°F.
In reference to its hardiness zone map, Montana's cities reside in zones ranging from 3a (-40 to -35°F average annual extreme temperature) to 6a (-10 to -5°F).
Image Source: Gardening Know How
As you can see, the majority of cities in Montana are in zones 3a to 5a. This means you must plant grass seeds that can withstand the cold climates in these areas. The western edge, particularly in Sanders, is the only area under zone 6a.
Despite the generally cool climate, it’s possible to have successful lawns with cool- or warm-season grass types in Montana.
Cool-season grasses have a good tolerance for winter's cold weather. They retain their green color during this season and have limited winter dormancy. The growth of this grass type slows down during summer. Also, dormancy among these grasses during this season is common when their leaves turn brown.
It is best to plant cool-season grasses during the spring and fall where the soil temperature reaches 55°F. These are also seasons when you must fertilize the grasses to promote optimum growth. Established cool-season grasses grow more in soil temperatures between 40-45°F.
The mowing height of cool-season grasses ranges between 2.5-3.5 inches. Mulch the clippings to put the nutrients back to the soil. Watering this grass type is unnecessary although irrigation is helpful during a spring drought.
When there are bald patches on your lawn, overseed them during the fall or spring. When overseeding, don't apply pre-emergent herbicide as it may prevent them from growing.
Below are the different types of cool-season grass you can grow in Montana.
Fine fescues have a bluish color with a fine texture that germinates quickly and establishes just as fast. It grows in soil conditions where nutrients are absent such as in heavy clay, sand, or rock. It is the most shade tolerant among all turfgrasses.
The downside of this grass type is its low tolerance to high foot traffic.
Kentucky bluegrass's dark-green color and canoe-shaped leaf tip make it very distinct among other grasses. Its cold-hardiness is the best among cool-season varieties, as it will help you maintain a beautiful-looking lawn during the winter.
However, Kentucky bluegrass also requires constant watering during the summer months, and care to prevent it from dormancy. Or at least retain its color for as long as possible.
Perennial ryegrass has a coarse texture and shiny green color. As a bunchgrass, it grows in clumps and its stems form an umbrella-like appearance that protects the roots from the sun.
This grass species grows perfectly at moderate temperatures in coastal regions. While it prefers direct sunlight, perennial ryegrass can grow under partial shade. More importantly, it has maximum tolerance for wear and is resistant to high traffic.
As a bunchgrass with deep green color and rough texture, tall fescue establishes easily and germinates quicker than Kentucky bluegrass. It can also withstand drought, heat, and shade, thanks to its extensive root system that reaches two to three feet deep into the soil. On the downside, tall fescue has limited self-repair abilities.
Areas with an average temperature of at least 85°F during the summers and mild winters are ideal for warm-season grasses. These varieties are more tolerant to heat, compared to cool-season grasses, and are drought-resistant. The grasses turn brown during the cold winter temperatures but regain their color once temperatures rise.
The best time for planting warm-season grasses is late spring to summer when the soil temperature is around 65˚F below the surface. Using fertilizer when planting warm-season grass seeds is ideal as it helps promote germination.
As mentioned, warm-season grasses go dormant during the cold season. This is the way the grass protects itself and survives the cold weather. However, it's possible that some patches of grass on your lawn will turn yellow and not survive. In this case, rake the dead grass and reseed the patch.
Below are the different types of warm-season grasses:
Bermudagrass is a tall and creeping grass that produces upright stems which grow flat and spiky leaves. It grows rapidly when you use fertilizer correctly and establishes an even and dense turfgrass.
Bermudagrass is drought-tolerant and can grow on different soil types. Thanks to its inherent heartiness, sports fields and high-traffic lawns benefit from growing bermudagrass.
Compared to other warm-season grasses, Zoysia grass is tough as they come. Aside from growing under a variety of conditions, this light-to-medium green grass persists in drought and heat. To maintain zoysia grass, mow it frequently. This also prevents it from getting too thick and tangled, which could make it difficult to mow and maintain later on.
Find the Best Montana Grass Seed for Your Property
Despite the state's unique climate and geographical makeup, there are grass seeds you can plant and grow to ensure a green and healthy lawn in Montana. Among the cold-season grasses to choose from, Kentucky bluegrass is one of the best due to its hardiness and deep green color. Meanwhile, Bermudagrass works well in more humid areas because it establishes fast and is tolerant.To make sure that you choose the best grass seed for your property in Montana, begin with Nature’s Seed unique Seed Selector tool. From grass blends to individual grass seeds, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices based on location and other factors for a thriving, lush lawn.