Upper Michigan's cold climate falls into hardiness zone 4. Homeowners in that area must carefully select a grass cultivar that will survive in the cold winter temperatures. Most of the grasses that perform well in this environment are native prairie grasses.
Native to Europe and Asia, Kentucky bluegrass grows throughout the northern and coastal United States, including throughout Michigan. It grows to an average 3 to 4 inches in height. According to Texas A & M, there are over 100 species; some are more suited to Southern climates and will not grow in upper Michigan.
Switchgrass, sometimes called thatchgrass or wild redtop, can reach 3 to 6 feet in height if not trimmed. This common prairie grass can withstand northern Michigan winters. The grass blades are flat and bright green in color, though some varieties may develop red or blue striations.
Indiangrass is an American native commonly found in prairie areas and grown throughout Michigan. It can grow in full sun to full shade, and tolerates a wide range of soil conditions. If left to grow, it produces orange and purple flowers.
Bluestem is a common prairie grass hardy in all of zone 4. Two common varieties are big bluestem and little bluestem. It ranges from 1 to 6 feet in height and can be kept short by mowing.