South Dakota is located in the northern region of the United States. Most cool-season grasses will grow well here, most notably…
Planting grass seed in South Dakota can be done between the spring and fall months. Keep in mind that spring planting gives grass more time to establish well, but the summer heat and weeds may cause problems. Fall seeding minimizes danger of heat injury, but allow about 6 weeks of expected temperatures ranging from 50° F to 70° F before planting. Lawns seeded within a week of Labor Day are likely to fill in completely by winter, producing a thicker turf appearance for the following spring. You want to plant your grass seed in late summer because warmer temperatures, accompanied by sufficient water, will encourage good grass seed germination.
The primary grass variety planted in South Dakota lawns is Kentucky bluegrass. It’s considered the best quality turf grass for cooler climates, making a fine textured lawn. It has the ability to fill-in damaged parts without any need to reseed. Bluegrass is also more winter-hardy than other cool-season grass varieties. Newer varieties are more resistant to disease. It performs best in full sunlight, but can be mixed with a fine fescue for use in shady areas. Bluegrass may need one to three months to germinate and establish, based upon site conditions. It makes an outstanding turf for athletic fields. Bluegrass may be seeded or sodded for establishment.
Kentucky bluegrass planted in North Dakota is often blended with other cool-season grasses, like perennial rye grass. The quick establishment properties of rye grass work well with the fast establishment times of bluegrass. It’s texture is similar to bluegrass, and it has good drought tolerance. Rye grass isn’t necessarily as cold-tolerant as bluegrass but works well in some South Dakota lawns. Plant Kentucky bluegrass at 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet, or 1.5 pounds per 1,000 square feet when over-seeding. Mow at 2 inches to 3 inches.
Fine fescue varieties are fine-leaved turf grasses suited well for conditions of shade, low soil moisture, low fertility and soils with unfavorable pH levels. Fine fescues planted in sandy soils with good drainage grow best, so adding a layer of sand on top of your soil surface during soil preparation can support growth. Extra applications of grass fertilizer, frequent irrigation or establishment on poorly drained soils can lead to a drop in quality and plant body. With good management, the fine fescues will make an attractive turf for your lawn.
Fine fescues are seldom seeded alone. They’re commonly found in mixtures with other cool-season turf grasses for use on low maintenance or shady lawns. Plant seeds at 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Mow between 3 and 4 inches.
Buffalograss is a true prairie grass with good heat and drought tolerance mainly established by vegetative plant parts but can be established by seed collected from female plants. Buffalograss is a fine textured grass that forms a dense light-green turf. It isn’t tolerant to sandy or salty soils and doesn’t grow in shade. Buffalograss can be used on low-maintenance lawns in southern South Dakota and doesn’t require a large amount of nitrogen or water. Plant at 3 lbs. per 1,000 square feet. If plenty of water is supplied, buffalo grass can be cut at 1 ½-inches. For a truly low-maintenance lawn, mow at 2 ½-inches to 3 inches during the summer months.
For step-by-step instructions on soil preparation and planting grass, visit our Planting Grass Seed page.