How Do Midwestern Lawns Differ From the Rest of US?


While many people think of New York or Texas when they think of the United States, there may be no region of the country as quintessentially American as the Midwest. After all, the vast majority of those famous amber waves of grain grow in the extremely rich soil that covers this region of the nation. Landscaping in the Midwest presents unique challenges and opportunities when compared with the rest of the country. The winters are long and cold, the soil is fertile, and rainfall can be… inconsistent.


So let’s say you are a Midwestern homeowner and you have a decent-sized lawn and maybe a garden. How should your landscaping efforts differ from the efforts of your counterparts in the south and on the coasts?


  1. The first thing to remember is that the Midwest is composed of three of the 13 major plant hardiness zones outlined by the United States Department of Agriculture. Plant hardiness is a measure of climate that lets you know how long the growing season is in your part of the country. Most of the Midwest is made up of zones two through five. These are cold weather zones. This means that the Midwest tends to have a shorter growing season than many other parts of the country and successful plants need to be hardy in lower temperatures.  This also means you will need to begin your lawn care and gardening later, and finish earlier.
  2. The Midwest also features relatively wet summers and slightly drier winters compared to other parts of the country.  With cooler weather and more rain, you may want to think twice about planting drought-resistant grasses like Zoysia. Instead, think about planting hardy grasses that use a little more water, like Kentucky bluegrass. If it is particularly dry in a given year, make sure to properly irrigate your lawn.
  3. Many parts of the Midwest also feature very fertile soil. This is why this part of the USA has become the breadbasket of the United States and the world. Corn, soy, and other crops are abundant in the Midwest. When it comes time to plant, remember that the soil you use is very rich and may not require the same amount of fertilizers that may be needed in other parts of the country. You can even test your soil. DIY testing kits are available at nursery’s and plant centers, or you can locate a soil testing lab and send samples of your soil for a more complete analysis.   


The Midwest features rich soil, cool weather, and wet springs and summers. Choose hardy grass varietals, and don’t stress out as much about drought. You will probably not need to water your lawn quite as much as you might in other parts of the country, and you will not need as much fertilizer. Now get out there, Midwesterners, and get landscaping!