Minnesota state outlinePicture of a patch of sod in Minnesota

The Ultimate Guide to
Sod Installation in Minnesota

In this article we'll explore the optimal sod varieties for Minnesota. We'll also delve into their associated costs and the ideal times for laying to ensure growth.

cool season

Know the game, pick your grass wisely, and you'll have a lawn that's not just surviving, but thriving, all year round. Now, that's what we call a win!


In Minnesota, the weather doesn't mess around. Winters? Ice-cold and stretching on forever.

Summers? Short, sweet, and warm. So, when it comes to choosing your lawn armor, you gotta pick the tough ones - the grasses that can stand a chill and still rock that lush green look.

Time your grass-planting right. Strike when the mercury dips, in the refreshing spring or crisp autumn. That's when the grass is just raring to dig in its roots and get comfy before the extreme seasons hit.

Keep in mind, Minnesota is the north star of the grass zone. So, forget about those sun-loving, warm-season grasses. They won't last a Minnesota minute.

What are the best sod types for MN?

In the world of landscaping, not all grasses are created equal. Each thrives in a specific climate zone: cool, warm, or transition.

A geographical map highlighting Minnesota located in the cool season region of the United States
Minnesota is a cool season state and falls in the region higlighted above

Minnesota, with its cool season climate, prefers a particular set of grasses that relish the lower temperatures. The following sods are the easiest to grow and maintain in Minnesota:

While it's possible to grow grasses meant for other regions with proper care, attention and timing, these are the most common grasses in Minnesota for residential lawns.

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Recommended species for shade

Minnesotans, we all love our lush, green lawns, right? For those shady spots that get less sun, picking the right sod is crucial. Here are our top picks for shade-tolerant grasses, perfect for our Minnesota climate.

First up, we've got the Fine Fescue. These grass types are a solid bet for shady areas. Their rescue, chewings, hard, and sheep require just four hours of sunlight a day. What's more? They possess exceptional winter hardiness, a must in our harsh winters.

Then, we have the stalwart Kentucky Bluegrass. Hang on, we hear you holler, isn’t bluegrass a sun-loving variety? Absolutely, but here's the secret sauce - you can mix it with fine fescues to create a blend that loves sun and shade equally. And who doesn't appreciate versatility?

If you want a cool twist, try the Rough Bluegrass. It thrives in damp shade and tolerates close mowing, making it perfect for manicured lawns. A word of caution, it doesn’t withstand heat or drought. What can we say, it's not a fan of extremes!

Another pride and joy is our friend, the Tall Fescue. It's the durable, wear-resistant option we recommend for high-traffic areas. Although it likes the sun, with 4 to 6 hours of daily dappled light, it's good to go.

Lastly, the often disregarded Ryegrass. We know it’s a cool-season grass but mix it with fine fescues and you've got yourself a shade-loving, thick green carpet. But hey, it can be a little needy, asking for regular watering and feeding.

So there we have it, our top five choices for shade-tolerant sods in Minnesota. Pick your perfect sod partner, sit back, and watch your garden transform. Keep in mind, the golden rule of sod planting - soil preparation is key. Happy Sodding, folks!

A picture of a shade tree over a lawn in Minnesota
Shade tree over a lawn in Minnesota

Recommended for full sun or partial sun

When selecting sod for your lawn, it's crucial to consider the amount of sunlight the area receives. Grass varieties have different sun exposure requirements to thrive and maintain their health and appearance. Understanding whether your lawn area gets full sun or partial sun will help you choose the right sod variety.

Below are some sod options recommended for either full sun or partial sun conditions in MN:

Grass TypeSunGood to Know
Tall FescuePartialTall Fescue is adaptable to a range of conditions, including partial sun, and is known for its deep root system and tolerance to drought.
Kentucky BluegrassFullKentucky Bluegrass prefers full sun and is prized for its fine texture, rich color, and ability to recover quickly from damage.
Perennial RyegrassFullPerennial Ryegrass thrives in full sun and is known for its rapid germination, fine texture, and bright green color.
Fine FescuePartialFine Fescue is well-suited for partial sun and is appreciated for its fine texture, shade tolerance, and low maintenance requirements.

What varieties stay green year-round?

As with anything agriculture related, there is some nuance to this question. There are many grasses that can stay green year round in but it depends heavily on your location within Minnesota as well as any microclimates that may exist.

The following grasses have the ability to stay green year round in Minnesota:

Grass TypeCaveats
Tall FescueIt typically stays green throughout the year in milder climates, given that it isn't overly stressed by heat or drought in the summer.
Kentucky BluegrassIt can retain its green color for much of the year when well-maintained, though harsh winter temperatures can push it towards dormancy and a browner hue.
Perennial RyegrassIt can stay vibrant and green throughout the year in many climates, unless conditions are extremely cold or dry.
Fine FescueIt keeps its green color throughout the year in ideal conditions. If the winters are particularly harsh, it may lose some color.

What is the best time to lay sod in Minnesota?

Since it is considered a cool-season location, the ideal time to lay sod is in early spring or early fall. These periods offer moderate temperatures, leading to less stress on the sod and providing optimal conditions for root establishment before extreme temperatures of winter or summer. Avoid the summer, as high heat can stress the sod.

As you can see in the image below, you'll notice the most shoot growth (the grass above ground) and root growth in the spring and fall for cool season grases:

A graph showing the growth of cool season grasses throughout the year
Plant cool-season grasses during the Spring and Fall for best results

Find reputable companies for installing sod in MN

Here are the top problems you'll face when trying to get sod installed by a landscaping company:

  1. They're hard to get ahold of on the phone or you'll reach out online but won't hear back.
  2. It's hard to pin them down for a specific date. Because you can only bring sod from the farm when there's decent weather, this causes some delays at times. It also has a short shelf life, so it's important to get it installed within a day or two of delivery.
  3. They're not transparent about pricing. You'll often get a quote that's way higher than you'd expect.

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Cities in Minnesota