A healthy lawn starts with grass seeds that are suitable for the growing conditions. Sowing the right high-quality grass seeds will create more than just a good-looking lawn; maintenance will be easier as well. Choosing one of the best grass seeds for Michigan will help a lawn thrive through the state’s warm summers and chilly winters. The grass seed options ahead create resilient and healthy lawns, beautifully weathering the wide temperature fluctuations of the Upper Midwest. Read on for the best grass seed for Michigan to grow a flourishing lawn.
- BEST OVERALL: Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Sun & Shade Mix
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Pennington Smart Seed Sun and Shade Grass Seed Mix
- BEST FOR HIGH-TRAFFIC LAWN: Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Kentucky Bluegrass Mix
- BEST FOR SHADY LAWN: Pennington Smart Seed Dense Shade Grass Seed Mix
- BEST FOR LAWN THICKENING: Scotts Turf Builder Thick’R Lawn Tall Fescue Mix
- BEST DROUGHT-TOLERANT: Jonathan Green Black Beauty Original Grass Seed
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Grass Seed for Michigan
To nurture and enjoy a gorgeous green lawn in Michigan, plant cool-season grasses. Several cool-season grass types, like Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue, and tall fescue, thrive in the northern half of the United States. Cool-season grasses perform well despite the wide seasonal temperature variations in areas like Michigan. These seeds can come as single-grass-type products or seed blends that mix together various grass types. When choosing the best grass seed variety for Michigan lawns, there are a few other factors to keep in mind, explained ahead.
Soil pH is measured along the pH scale, which runs from 0 (acidic) to 14 (alkaline), with 7 being neutral. Many grass varieties prefer a soil pH level around 6 to 7. For the best lawn conditions, it’s best to double-check the ideal pH for your chosen grass as well as your lawn’s current pH.
Affordable pH testers are available from online retailers or garden centers. In some areas, soil-test mailing kits (which can measure pH, nutrient levels, and organic matter levels) may also be available from your county extension office for a small fee.
If the soil pH is out of the suitable zone, additives can raise or lower the pH levels and bring the soil into the ideal level for grass seeding. Ground lime, for example, can raise the pH while sulfur fertilizers work to lower pH.
Soil and Air Temperature
The USDA hardiness zone map divides the United States into zones based on each area’s average annual minimum winter temperature. It’s divided into 10-degree-Fahrenheit zones, with some zones divided into lettered 5-degree-Fahrenheit subzones, ranging from zone 1 (the coldest) to zone 13 (the warmest). An area’s climate will affect its soil and air temperature throughout the year, so the hardiness zone can help determine suitable plant types for a specific region.
Michigan’s hardiness zones range from 4a to 6b, depending on the area. Many cool-season grasses, including Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and fescue varieties are appropriate for Michigan’s hardiness zone.
Cool-season grasses, which make up the majority of the best grasses for Michigan, flourish in air temperatures ranging from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and soil temperatures between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This means their peak growing season is in early spring and early fall. Keep this in mind when planting new grass seed and follow the manufacturer’s planting directions for best results. Generally, late summer and early fall have the best soil and air temperature conditions for planting in Michigan, with spring coming in second best.
New Lawn vs. Spot Seeding
Planting a new lawn means starting from scratch, and choosing the right grass seed can encourage a lush lawn right from the get-go. The cool-season grasses popular in Michigan (Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescue varieties) are suitable for a new lawn, and many manufacturers will mix grass types to create a more resilient and fast-growing lawn (for example, fast-germinating tall fescue mixed with slow-germinating Kentucky bluegrass).
Over time, even well-maintained lawns can start to look sparse due to poor conditions or heavy traffic. Spot seeding can help fill in these bare areas. If an existing lawn is looking a little worse for wear all over, overseeding (planting grass seed over existing grass) can help bring the lawn back into better shape.
Many cool-season grasses can be used for spot seeding or overseeding as well. It’s a good idea to use a blend that is suitable for the climate and similar to the makeup of the existing lawn. Or choose a grass blend with some beneficial grass types to correct any issues. For example, if the lawn is sparse because of too much shade, choose a blend with a shade-tolerant grass. Faster-germinating ryegrass and fescue will result in speedier spot coverage, so it’s in many of the best grass seeds for overseeding or spot seeding.
In either case, added fertilizers and seed coatings can help a new lawn get established or encourage better patch repair. These added fertilizers or seed coatings may provide seedlings with nutrients, encourage water retention, and protect them from disease.
Sun vs. Shade
Different grass types are suited to different amounts of sunlight and shade. When gauging the amount of sun or shade an area receives, consider the following general guidelines:
- Full sun: 8 or more hours of direct sun per day
- Light shade: 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day
- Moderate shade: 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight or 6 to 8 hours of filtered sunlight per day
- Dense shade: 2 to 4 hours of direct sunlight or 4 to 6 hours of filtered sunlight per day
Some of the best shade-tolerant cool-season grasses include fine fescue and tall fescue (with fine fescue having the greatest shade-tolerance). Some varieties of ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass can tolerate light shade as well. Since most grass types like abundant sunshine, most grass seeds will be suitable for lawns that get full sun.
To make choosing a grass type easier for consumers, many manufacturers advertise how much shade their grass product can handle. There are products for all lawn types, from very sunny to densely shady, often created by blending grass types. Some blends also work well for lawns with varying amounts of sun and shade.
Judging the amount of foot traffic a lawn receives can help further narrow the field to the best grass type. Certain grass types hold up better to rough-and-tumble use than others.
Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most popular grass types in Michigan for several reasons, including its deep green color, winterhardiness, and ability to withstand high foot traffic. Perennial ryegrass also holds up well to activity. Tall and fine fescues look lovely but are less tolerant to romping kids, pets, and yard sports and parties.
To take advantage of the benefits of different grass types, many manufacturers create grass seed mixes. These grass blends can create a hardier lawn; two or more cool-season grasses together can help to create a more traffic-resistant, shade-tolerant, or disease-resistant lawn.
All lawns require maintenance, which involves watering, mowing, and fertilizing. How much maintenance a lawn needs can depend on the grass type.
Kentucky bluegrass is a high-maintenance option out of the popular cool-season grass types. It requires fertilizer around four times a year, frequent mowing, and attention paid to watering since it doesn’t have great drought tolerance. Perennial ryegrass can have similar maintenance needs.
Tall fescue and fine fescue grasses tend to require less all-around maintenance than Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass. Since they require less fertilizing and less frequent watering and mowing, fescue lawns are good for those looking for a low-maintenance option.
Our Top Picks
The grass seed products described ahead are well suited for Michigan’s climate, growing to create dense, resilient, and beautiful lawns.
Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Sun & Shade Mix is one of the brand’s most versatile grass seed mixes. A mix of fescues, ryegrass, and bluegrass (all excellent varieties for Michigan lawns) helps to create a lush and resilient green lawn.
This versatile mix makes the grass seed suitable for extreme conditions, including scorching sun and dense shade, so it’s a good choice for many Michigan lawns. Though keep in mind that this grass seed won’t tolerate dense shade as well as other seed mixes made completely of shade-tolerant grass types (like fescue).
On top of its robust seed blend, this product has Scotts 4-in-1 WaterSmart Plus Coating. This seed coating helps each seed absorb double the water compared to uncoated seeds. The coating also feeds seeds with essential nutrients and helps protect tender seedlings from disease to give the new lawn an excellent start.
- Coverage area: 7 pounds of seed covers 2,800 square feet (for adding to existing lawn) or 930 square feet (for new lawn coverage)
- Grass types: Fescue, ryegrass, and Kentucky bluegrass mix
- Conditions: Sun and dense shade; medium to high drought resistance
- Excellent grass blend for Michigan lawns
- Can tolerate moderate to dense shade
- Great drought tolerance
- Won’t tolerate very shady areas as well as dense shade seed blends
Get the Scotts Sun & Shade Mix grass seed for Michigan at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Tractor Supply Co.
With the right grass seed, it’s affordable and straightforward to seed your own lawn successfully. Pennington’s Smart Seed Sun and Shade Grass Seed Mix is an economical choice for Michigan lawns, particularly in the long run.
This grass seed features a versatile blend of seeds, including tall fescue, fine fescue, perennial ryegrass, and Kentucky bluegrass. With each grass type bringing its own benefits, this grass seed takes well to Michigan yard conditions to create a gorgeous lawn. It’s disease-tolerant, drought-tolerant, and intended for both sunny and moderately shady areas, which means homeowners needn’t purchase separate grass seeds if different conditions exist in the front and backyards.
As part of Pennington’s Smart Seed line, this grass seed requires up to 30 percent less water than ordinary grass seeds year after year—meaning comparatively less water usage (and water costs) in the long run.
- Coverage area: 7 pounds of seed covers 2,330 square feet (for adding to existing lawn) or 777 square feet (for new lawn coverage)
- Grass types: Tall fescue, fine fescue, perennial ryegrass, and Kentucky bluegrass
- Conditions: Sun and moderate shade; good drought resistance
- Varied seed mix
- Good drought and disease tolerance
- Requires up to 30 percent less water
- Not suitable for densely shaded areas
Get the Pennington Sun and Shade grass seed for Michigan at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Menards.
Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most popular grass types in Michigan for very good reasons: It thrives in the climate conditions of the Upper Midwest, it has a gorgeous deep green color, and it holds up to foot traffic. Those who want to commit to this robust grass type should consider Scotts’ Turf Builder Grass Seed Kentucky Bluegrass Mix, a seed blend that only includes Kentucky bluegrass varieties.
This seed mix combines various Kentucky bluegrass seed types to create Scotts’ most cold-tolerant blend. It can take a little while to germinate, but once it does, this seed creates a resilient lawn that can self-repair from heat, drought, and traffic damage. Like other Scotts products, it’s coated in the brand’s 4-in-1 WaterSmart Plus coating that helps absorb water, provide essential nutrients, and protect seedlings from disease.
- Coverage area: 7 pounds of seed covers 4,725 square feet (for adding to existing lawn) or 2,331 square feet (for new lawn coverage)
- Grass types: Kentucky bluegrass mix
- Conditions: Sun and light shade; medium drought resistance
- Creates a resilient, self-repairing lawn
- Excellent for high-traffic areas
- Pleasant fine-bladed texture
- Can take up to 30 days to germinate
- Limited drought resistance
Get the Scotts Kentucky Bluegrass grass seed for Michigan at Amazon, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Scotts.
Tall and fine fescue grasses are among the top grasses for shady areas—and since they’re cool-season grasses, they also thrive in Michigan. Pennington Smart Seed Dense Shade Grass Seed Mix contains a blend of tall and fine fescue grass seeds suitable for densely shaded areas. This grass seed only requires 2 to 6 hours of sunlight per day to maintain a healthy green lawn, bringing hope to homeowners struggling with patchy grass in shaded areas.
Aside from its shade tolerance, this grass seed is also disease- and traffic-resistant, creating a durable lawn. It also features Pennington’s Smart Seed technology, which means once the lawn is established, it will require up to 30 percent less water than ordinary grass seeds.
- Coverage area: 7 pounds of seed covers 1,750 square feet (for adding to existing lawn) or 580 square feet (for new lawn coverage)
- Grass types: Tall and fine fescue
- Conditions: Shady conditions; good drought tolerance
- Excellent for densely shaded areas
- Only requires 2 to 6 hours of sunlight daily
- Disease- and traffic-resistant
- Relatively low coverage area
Get the Pennington Dense Shade grass seed for Michigan on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
With general wear, poor weather conditions, and lapses in maintenance, even the lushest lawns can become patchy over the years. Scotts Turf Builder Thick’R Lawn Tall Fescue Mix is a terrific lawn rescue solution.
This grass seed is intended for allover use on sparse lawns to turn thin grass into a thicker, lusher lawn. It contains a mix of tall fescue seeds, as well as soil improvers to encourage seedling development plus fertilizer to feed new seedlings and the existing turf. Users can see up to 50 percent improvement in lawn thickness with just one application (using a seed spreader to spread the seed evenly).
- Coverage area: 12 pounds of seed covers 1,200 square feet (for adding to existing lawn)
- Grass types: Tall fescue mix
- Conditions: Not specified
- Fast-germinating tall fescue mix
- Includes a soil improver and fertilizer
- Easy to apply
- Intended for use over an entire lawn (although some users had success with spot seeding)
Get the Scotts Turf Builder Tall Fescue grass seed for Michigan at Amazon, The Home Depot, Tractor Supply Co., or Scotts.
A drought-tolerant grass is a wise choice for tolerating hot Michigan summers in drought-prone areas. Jonathan Green’s Black Beauty Original Grass Seed is an excellent drought- and disease-tolerant grass for a healthy lawn that stands up to drought conditions.
The tall fescue grass seed blend grows grass with a waxy coating that helps the plant retain moisture and protects it from disease. Deep-growing roots, which can reach up to 4 feet deep, also help to improve drought tolerance. This grass seed is suitable for both sunny and moderately shady areas. It also holds up well to foot traffic, so it’s a stellar choice for those who want to grow a hardy lawn in dry areas.
- Coverage area: 25 pounds of seed covers 7,500 square feet (for adding to existing lawn) or 3,750 square feet (for new lawn coverage)
- Grass types: Tall fescue
- Conditions: Sun and moderate shade; excellent drought tolerance
- Excellent drought tolerance
- Good in sun and shade
- Lovely dark green color
- Doesn’t tolerate dense shade
Get the Jonathan Green grass seed for Michigan on Amazon or Jonathan Green.
With a versatile blend of high-quality cool-season grass seeds that are ideal for sun and heavy shade, Scotts Sun & Shade Mix grass seed for Michigan is a practical and beautiful choice for Michigan yards. Pennington Sun and Shade grass seed for Michigan is another excellent alternative, also containing excellent cool-season grasses for Michigan, with Pennington’s Smart Seed technology to save on watering costs.
How We Chose the Best Grass Seed for Michigan
It’s a lot of work seeding a new lawn, so it’s important to use a high-quality grass seed that establishes well and grows beautifully. To narrow down the best grass seed for Michigan, we researched growing conditions in the state and analyzed dozens of grass products before selecting the best grass types for this area.
Since cool-season grasses are the best choice for this region, we stuck to cool-season grass seeds. We included some single-seed products, ideal for those who have a favorite grass type, and some seed blends, which can offer better performance in challenging areas. We also prioritized seeds with added ingredients, like seed coatings and fertilizers, which promised better growing conditions, seed health, and uniform germination.
Besides looking into seed types and additives, we also paid mind to brand reputation. Scotts and Pennington are amongst the best-known brands across the United States, but we also included other brands with quality, highly rated seeds to round out our list.
Choosing the right grass seed can make all the difference between a patchy, finicky yard or an enviously lush and healthy lawn. Planting the right type of grass for your area will make maintenance easier, as some grass types naturally flourish in certain conditions. The most common cool-season grasses thrive in Michigan’s climate. There are a few factors to keep in mind before choosing and planting a grass seed type, explored in the frequently asked questions ahead.
Q. What is the easiest grass to grow in Michigan?
Cool-season grasses, particularly Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue, and tall fescue varieties, are very well suited to Michigan’s climate. These grass types are the easiest to grow and maintain in Michigan.
Q. What is the fastest-growing grass seed for Michigan?
Perennial ryegrass and tall fescue seeds are two of the fastest-growing grass seeds that are suitable for Michigan lawns.
Q. What happens if I put my grass seed down too early?
Planting grass seed too early can result in poor germination and growth since less-than-ideal temperatures can cause the seeds to become unproductive or die off.
Q. Can I place too many grass seeds?
Yes. Like any other plant, grass seeds need adequate sunlight, water, and nutrients. Planting too many grass seeds can cause the seedlings to compete for resources, resulting in an unhealthy lawn.
Q. Can I plant grass in wet soil?
It’s best to avoid planting grass in very wet soil. First, dry soil is often easier to seed. Second, and more importantly, very wet conditions can cause seed rot, which can result in disease.
Q. Will grass seed germinate if I don’t cover it?
Grass seed can germinate if it’s not covered, but it will be better protected with a top layer of compost, topsoil, or mulch. A cover layer can help protect the seed from being washed away by rain or picked up by birds or critters, and it helps keep things moist so the seeds can germinate.