Montana state outlinePicture of a patch of sod in Montana

Montana Sod Guide

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

cool season

It's all about understanding Montana's climate and grass zone. Get that down, and you're all set to pick the perfect grass for your slice of Montana heaven.


Alright, let's paint a picture of Montana. This place is a continental wonderland: summers are toasty, winters come with a chill, and these extreme seasons shape the grass that thrives here. Montana's turf is cool-season grass territory, favoring the types that don't mind a good chill.

Dreaming of laying a Montana lawn? You've got two sweet spots: spring and fall. The cool months give your grass the best chance.

Try to roll out a lawn in the heat of summer, and you'll likely end up with a parched patch. Winter, on the other hand, can leave your grass high and dry, struggling to root in the frozen ground. The lawn heroes in Montana are the cool-season grasses, the ones that stand tall against both icy winters and sizzling summers.

Meet the all-stars: tall fescue, fine fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass. These are your go-to grasses for a Montana-ready lawn. The secret to lawn success in Big Sky Country?

Which grasses grow best in Montana?

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 Montana located in the cool season region of the United States
Montana is a cool season state and falls in the region higlighted above

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

Tall FescueCool-season grass, shade-tolerant, deep-rooted, ideal for lawns, pastures, and sports fields in cooler climates. The price per square foot for Tall Fescue generally ranges from $0.60 to $0.85 per square foot.
Kentucky BluegrassCool-season grass, lush green, fine texture, good for lawns, golf courses, and sports fields in cooler regions. The price per square foot for Kentucky Bluegrass generally ranges from $0.35 to $0.70 per square foot.
Perennial RyegrassCool-season grass, fast-growing, excellent wear resistance, often used for overseeding, ideal for lawns and sports fields. The price per square foot for Perennial Ryegrass generally ranges from $0.30 to $0.65 per square foot.
Fine FescueCool-season grass, shade-tolerant, fine texture, low maintenance, ideal for low-traffic lawns and erosion control. The price per square foot for Fine Fescue generally ranges from $0.45 to $0.75 per square foot.

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

What is the best time to lay sod in Montana?

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

Best Grasses for Shade in Montana

Well, fellow green thumbs, let's dive right in. We're talking shade-loving grasses in Montana, a vital topic for those elusive places where sun's golden rays barely graze.

First, high fives to Fine Fescue. These guys thrive in shady areas, you know, the parts of your lawn that seem incurably bald. Fine Fescue are stalwart, a real sod knight, able to tolerate as little as four hours of direct sunlight. Drapes of pine boughs or that annoying neighbor's towering fence? No problem for fine fescue.

Next, we have St. Augustine. Not too picky, this guy. He needs around six hours of sun, but can tolerate shade fairly well. However, keep in mind, St. Augustine is a warm season grass. So if your shaded areas are also exposed to consistently harsh, freezing temperatures, he might not be your top pick.

Third on our hero list, we find Tall Fescue. Robust, vigorous and resilient, this underdog can flourish with only five hours of sunshine. He's got a deep root system, so he's less likely to wilt when summer swelters, and surprisingly frost tolerant too.

Last but certainly not least, Kentucky Bluegrass saunters in. With a need for six to eight hours of sunlight, this might not be the perfect fit for those seriously shaded areas. But if your backyard sees some gentle filtered light, Kentucky Bluegrass could work for you.

Remember, we're in Montana folks. And aside from sunlight, you've got to factor in the wild swings between hot summers and colder winters. It's always a balancing act, but armed with these options, you can set up a lawn that's the envy of your street, shady spots and all.

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

What grasses stay green year-round in Montana?

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 the state as well as any microclimates that may exist.

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

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.

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