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The Best Grass Seed for Wisconsin

What Wisconsin Grass Seed Should You Plant in Your Garden?

The weather in Wisconsin can be unpredictable at times. Take La Crosse County, for instance: According to local news channel, News 8000, this area frequently experiences moderate to severe droughts.

With temperatures hitting 90 degrees and above, it’s not just residents who are suffering -- it’s also lawns and grasses that are bearing the brunt of long, dry spells in the climate.

The bottom line is that you must plant Wisconsin grass seeds that adapt to all types of weather conditions, especially when you least expect them. Planting the right grass types can also help you protect your soil’s health from sun exposure and erosion. 

Let’s take a look at the different types of grass you can grow in your Wisconsin property to create a thriving and lush lawn all year long.


How is Wisconsin’s Climate?

Wisconsin gardeners are used to the cold winters, and conditions can get pretty chilly. The lowest temperatures recorded in recent years hovered around -35 degrees F (-37 C.).

Wisconsin USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Source: Wisconsin Horticulture

The coldest areas of Wisconsin are Zone 3 (Northwestern WI, with temperatures between -35 to -30°F), Zone 4 (North, Central, Western WI with temperatures between -30 to -20°F), and Zone 5 (Southern and eastern WI up past Green Bay with temperatures between -20 to -10°F). 

People living in these areas will have limited choices of grasses to grow. There’s only a short period when you can grow plants and grasses before it gets cold the entire year. However, that shouldn’t prevent you from making your lawn or garden look as beautiful as you want.


Best Lawn Grass Seeds for Wisconsin

Given the climate in Wisconsin, cool-season grasses are the most common option for property owners. These grass types can grow well in various soil conditions, including heavy clay and sandy soils. They can also last for an extended period and maintain their color and health throughout the winter months.

The perfect time to plant grass seed is at the end of summer when soil temps are still warm and there is less competition for resources. With a little fertilizer and water from late August to September 15th, you'll have your new lawn growing in no time.

For proper lawn maintenance for these grasses, follow these tips:

  • Watering — When watering your cool-season lawns, make sure you don't overwater them as this will cause an overgrowth of weeds or moss that might choke out your grass seedlings.
  • Fertilizing — Mixing fertilizer with water and applying it to your Wisconsin grasses is another way you can maintain them. Over-fertilizing, however, will lead to problems such as the spread of fungal diseases and algae growth.
  • Mowing — To prevent your Wisconsin turf from looking rough, cut it at least once every seven days during the growing season.

Below are the types of cold-season grasses that are perfect to plant and grow in Wisconsin:


Fine Fescues

As the name suggests, this grass type has a fine leaf with blue-green. This is why they're often referred to as "silky-feather."

Fine fescues have thin little roots that grow from the plant's base. The roots send up new shoots at intervals. The runners spread out from the parent plant until they produce a mat-like cover on the ground. These grasses do not require constant mowing and should be left at three to four inches in height at best. But if you decide to mow them, their height should not go lower than 1.5 inches.

Fine fescues are some of the best cool-season grasses to grow in Wisconsin. Fine fescues also do best in Wisconsin's more northern climate (Zone 3 or higher) during the summer and are resistant to Wisconsin's hard winter freezes. They also grow well in a variety of soil types, including heavy clay and sandy soil.


Kentucky Bluegrass

The thick and robust blades of Kentucky bluegrass have many leaf veins running through them. They're usually dark green but sometimes appear light brown or gray, depending on their exposure to sunlight.

This grass type is one of the most resilient turfgrasses because they have a high cold- and drought tolerance. This is all thanks to its deep root system that allows the grass to grow taller and spread faster.

Kentucky bluegrass performs best in Wisconsin's more northern climate (Zone 3 or higher) during the summer and can withstand winter freezes.


Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass is a low-growing, bunch-type turf that grows in clumps and doesn't spread like Kentucky bluegrass. Its blades are small and slender, with a reddish-purple tint when the sun hits it at certain angles. It also has a shorter life expectancy and should be overseeded every few years if planted with the same grass species.

However, this grass type more than makes up for its shortcoming by having a very rapid establishment rate (which can help with erosion control), good leaf color and texture, and high resistance to wear and tear.

More importantly, perennial ryegrass is a great option to mix into your lawn, thanks to its versatility and dependability. It’s convenient in shady corners where other seeds might wither away. With a speedy germination period, you can plant it at any time, even when temperatures are too low for turfgrass seedlings.


Tall Fescue

This Wisconsin grass has a thin, narrow blade and is usually tan in color. Tall fescue's roots are more delicate than other grass types, which allows it to grow upright with the blades. It forms clumps of low-growing grass rather than spreading horizontally like different varieties.

Tall fescue is an economical, low-maintenance option for utility areas or lawns with little to no foot traffic or properties that face a higher number of shaded regions. It also grows well in drought conditions and will resist wearing very quickly.

Tall fescue is also resistant to salt damage and does not require much care throughout the year. It prefers its environment moist but tolerates dry soil just fine too.


Find the Best Grass Seed to Plant in Wisconsin with Nature's Seed

You can't go wrong with any of the grass seeds above, but there are a few clear winners that thrive in Wisconsin’s soil and climate conditions:

  • The best overall grass seed to grow in Wisconsin is Kentucky bluegrass has a way of growing through the most challenging seasons. 
  • If you choose this grass seed blend, let it germinate for 2-3 weeks before going into dormancy for winter. After surviving its first long cold season, Kentucky bluegrass will be able to thrive without much input from its owner.
  • Tall fescue is also a fantastic alternative. It’s a hardy, drought-resistant grass with high shade tolerance. 
  • Tall fescue reaches deep into the soil to find water for its roots during dry spells, making it truly tough in every sense of this word.
For more customized guidance about Wisconsin grass seed questions, contact the Nature's Seed team for tips before planting to get the best results.

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