Best Grass Seed for Chicago & When to Plant It

When choosing between these popular grass varieties, you’ll need to consider the characteristics of your yard. If your yard is in full sunlight, you’ll need a different kind of grass than for shaded lawns. Let’s look at the best grass seed for Chicago, as well as when to plant it (Spring and Fall are best)

If you’re planning to plant a new lawn, it’s best to do your research to determine which grass variety would suit the climate you live in. For those who reside in Chicago, there are generally four main types of grass that grow well. These are Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, Fine Fescue, and Ryegrass. Alternatively, you may like to use a mixture of species.

Best Grass Seed for Chicago

If you live in Chicago and are looking to overseed your lawn or create a new lawn, consider these types of grass seed. As Chicago has cold winters, its’ best to choose cool-season grass. Cool-season varieties have their growing season throughout the fall and winter.

Kentucky Bluegrass

Best grass type for chicago

Kentucky bluegrass is a very popular choice of cool-season grass for homeowners in Chicago.  It’s one of the best grass seeds you can grow in this part of Illinois.  It looks great and can be used to create a dense, healthy lawn. This grass variety is also relatively hardy and perfect for kids or pets playing in their yard. It’s also resistant to the cold and copes well with harsh winters.

If you’re looking to overseed damaged areas of your lawn without having to reseed completely. Kentucky Bluegrass is an excellent choice. The only downside is that this variety of grass does need more maintenance than other types. Bluegrass spreads fast. You’ll need to care for your lawn correctly and provide your grass with enough water, regular fertilizer, and regularly mow your lawn.

Kentucky bluegrass is best grown in yards that have full sun for much of the day. This variety of grass can cope with partial shade but thrives in sunnier climates. You may like to mix Kentucky Bluegrass with fine fescue if you have a partially shaded lawn. When planting Kentucky Bluegrass, you’ll need to have patience as it can take between one and three months to establish itself. You’ll need to keep your family off the grass during this time.

Tall Fescue

Tall fescue is also a popular choice as it’s low-maintenance and is pretty disease and pest-resistant. It can also grow in various soil types and can even cope with soil that’s low in nutrients.

Tall fescue is fast to germinate and establish itself. It’s also a hardy species that copes with a high degree of foot traffic. It’s drought-resistant due to its deep root system.  Here’s more on the best time to plant fescue in general, not just Chicago.

Fine Fescue

Many people in Chicago grow fine fescue lawns. Other types of fescues such as red fescue, hard fescue, or chewings fescues are also very popular. These types of grass generally need less maintenance and are perfect for gardens that are often in shade.

Fine fescue likes to grow in well-draining soil but can tolerate conditions that aren’t ideal such as poor soil quality and lower pH levels. It also does well in areas with high foot traffic. If you choose to plant fine fescue, you won’t need to apply fertilizer or mow your lawn as often as you would with other types. Many homeowners have found that their lawn can actually suffer if it’s mown frequently, especially in hot weather.

Fine fescue is often mixed with Kentucky bluegrass, particularly for lawns that have shaded areas.  Here are the pros and cons of fescue vs. bluegrass.

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial Ryegrass is very fast-growing and quick to establish itself. Once your seeds germinate, the young grass shoots will quickly grow roots and become an established lawn in no time. This is the main reason that perennial ryegrass is so popular.

Perennial ryegrass can also be successfully mixed with slower-growing Kentucky bluegrass to create a healthy, thriving lawn. Ryegrass is also hardwearing and able to tolerate foot traffic. It’s best to mix perennial ryegrass with other types of grass seeds as it’s not that hardy and can be affected by the cold Chicago winters.

If you grow only perennial ryegrass, you may find that your lawn becomes thin and patchy over time. Another downside of this type of grass is that it requires a lot of maintenance to keep it in good health. If you don’t have the time to maintain your lawn, it’s probably best not to plant perennial ryegrass (ryegrass vs. fescue)

Mixed Grass Species

Homeowners in Chicago will often mix grass seeds to create a diverse lawn that’s less likely to be affected by pests, disease, foot traffic, or weather conditions. Mixing seeds will allow your yard to adapt to the growing conditions. This is particularly beneficial if you have shaded and sunny areas or a changing climate and are unsure which type of grass to choose.

You may like to consider mixing grass species such as Kentucky Bluegrass with Fine Fescue and Perennial Ryegrass. It’s a good idea to have one species of grass as the most dominant, and for most climates, Kentucky Bluegrass will do well.

When to Plant Grass Seed in Fall in Chicago

When to Grow Grass in Chicago

It’s best to plant cool-season grass in the late summer or early fall. Most gardeners recommend planting the above varieties of grass between mid-August and the beginning of October.

During the late summer and early fall, the weather will still be good, and the soil will be warm. The temperature will be slightly cooler than in the summer, so you won’t have to worry about new grass seedlings scorching. There’s also frequent rainfall in Chicago, and these factors will all allow your seeds to quickly germinate and establish themselves before winter sets in. Planting your seeds in the fall will help you create a lawn that’s denser, greener, and healthier.

When to Plant Grass Seed in Spring in Chicago

When to Plant Grass Seed in Fall in Chicago

As detailed above, it’s best to plant grass seeds in Chicago in the late summer or early fall. If you’ve missed your opportunity to plant your lawn, you should wait until spring.

The second-best time to plant your lawn is in April. During the late spring, the weather will have started to warm up, and there will be spring showers. This will help seeds germinate and grow before the weather heats up. Don’t leave it too late to plant your grass seeds, as the summer heat may slow down the growth of your grass or end up scorching and killing your lawn.


Four popular types of grass grow well in Chicago; Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, Fine Fescue, and Ryegrass. Many homeowners mixt grass seeds to create a more diverse lawn that can cope with changing conditions.

When choosing which variety of grass to plant, you’ll need to consider the characteristics of your yard. If your yard is in full sunlight, you’ll need a different kind of grass than shaded lawns.