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What’s the Best Midwest Lawn Grass?

By: Jessie Keith

“I have a new yard (bought a lot) and it doesn’t have good grass growth. This will be its first spring with its new dirt. Got any recommendations for grass seed that will take root quickly and be strong. I like to keep it 2-3″. Thank you.” Question from Michelle of Dayton, Ohio.

Answer: Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) is a good lawn grass for Midwestern homeowners. The cool-season bunch grass is easy to grow, while also being adaptable and disease resistant. It’s broad, coarse, deep green blades look good all season long, and it can also withstand the moderate heat and drought of summer. It also takes lots of foot traffic.

For a surefire lush lawn in the first season, you can always plant sod, but it is far less economical than seed. If choosing to seed, early to mid-spring is a great time to plant. The key is making sure that most of the grass seeds germinate, and the lawn fills in well. Here are six steps to ensuring your seed takes hold:

  1. Plant fresh, quality seed.
  2. Make sure your soil is smooth, weed-free, and top dress it with Black Gold Peat Moss to help germination.
  3. Plant seed with a push broadcast spreader for good coverage.
  4. Lightly rake in seed after spreading and consider using a lawn roller to press it down.
  5. Add a layer of straw over seeded areas to hold moisture and encourage people to stay off.
  6. Water the area lightly until the grass sprouts and starts to look lush.

Refrain from walking on your new lawn until it really begins to grow. Be sure to keep is moist, and fertilize it once it is full.  Once it reaches a few inches, you can mow it to a 3-inch height. Wait until it is totally full to mow it down to 2 inches.

I hope this helps!

Happy gardening!

Jessie

About Jessie Keith


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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