South Dakota state outlinePicture of a patch of sod in South Dakota

South Dakota Sod Guide

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

cool season

Cool-season grasses are the stars of the show due to the state's long, cold winters and brief, hot summers. Early fall or spring is the ideal time to lay your grass, and don't forget to pick varieties that are well-suited to life in the cool grass zone.


South Dakota offers up a climate that packs a punch, with winter settling in for a long stay, serving up plenty of cold, while summer, though shorter, delivers some serious heat. This distinctive environment shapes which types of grasses are best suited for the state.

Among the grass types you'll see thriving in South Dakota, the cool-season varieties come out on top. Think Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue.

These grasses aren't bothered by a bit of chill; in fact, they flourish in cooler temperatures, and they're tough enough to stick out the harsh winters. When's the best time to get grass down in South Dakota?

The milder periods of early fall or spring hit the sweet spot. The temperatures are more comfortable, and the air holds more moisture, giving grass a good chance to establish a strong root system before the winter's cold or summer's heat sets in.

Which grasses grow best in South Dakota?

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

South Dakota, 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 South Dakota:

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 South Dakota for residential lawns.

What is the best time to lay sod in South Dakota?

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 South Dakota

We all love a good patch of green in our yard, don't we? But sun-starved spots can be downright pesky. In South Dakota, where the sunlight varies across seasons, choosing the right sod becomes absolutely critical. Let's cut the chatter and leap into the best grasses for shade in our part of the world.

First up, we've got Fine Fescue. This sassy little contender is nothing short of the Michael Phelps of shade grasses. Thriving on just 4-6 hours of sunlight daily, it can adapt to a variety of soils and handle the harsh South Dakota winters. How's that for versatility?

Playing second fiddle, Red Creeping Fescue still deserves kudos. This guy offers a fine texture and requires only minimal mowing. Yes, you heard it right. Binge-watch your favorite Netflix show instead of wrestling with your mower. Red Creeping Fescue's got your shady areas covered, literally.

Rounding out the top three, we have Kentucky Bluegrass. Now, don't let the name fool you. It possesses exceptional shade tolerance and can beautifully coexist in a blend with some of its cooler season brethren.

But hey, all ain't as rosy as it seems. With shade grains, you face an uphill battle against fungal diseases. That ornery issue can give you some sleepless nights. Fear not, we've got a golden rule for you - avoid the over-watering trap.

Finally, we say, don't play the guessing game. Shade varies, so does the nature of your soil. A soil test never hurts anyone. If in doubt, go for it. It's better to have that hold-that-thought moment, than to face a larger issue down the line.

Remember folks, in the grand pursuit of lawn beauty, possessing knowledge is half the battle won. Choose wisely, sow with care, and we assure you, your luscious lawn will be the envy of all in South Dakota.

A picture of a shade tree over a lawn in South Dakota
Shade tree over a lawn in South Dakota

What grasses stay green year-round in South Dakota?

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 South Dakota:

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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