Kentucky Bluegrass: A Complete Guide

Kentucky bluegrass is a cool-season grass, popular throughout the northern United States for its ability to withstand harsh winters and thrive in moderate summers. Named for the small, purplish-blue flowers that bloom at the ends of the grass blades if you do not mow it, a Kentucky bluegrass lawn is one that will be disease-resistant, capable of withstanding heavy foot traffic, and requires moderate maintenance. To determine whether Kentucky bluegrass is the right choice for your outdoor space, contact a lawn care expert in your area.

How To Grow Kentucky Bluegrass

When establishing a new lawn, you have multiple options with Kentucky bluegrass: seed, plugs, or sod. Seeding is your least expensive option, and bluegrass grows from seeds very well. Kentucky bluegrass takes anywhere from two weeks to up to a month to germinate, depending on conditions. Once germination begins, though, the grass does not spread as quickly as some other cool-season grasses. For that reason, if your budget allows, sod could be your best bet for a new Kentucky bluegrass lawn.

Sod is a patch of grass already grown with a thin layer of soil underneath. It is the most expensive of the three options for establishing a new lawn because it is both fast and easy. Once the sod is laid down, it only takes a few weeks to completely take root, where a bluegrass lawn grown from seed can take up to a few months. Overall, sod should be chosen for quick coverage of a large area of your lawn, whereas seed will require a bit more patience.

Plugs are a middle-ground between the two. Essentially, they can be though of as small pieces of sod, with a slightly thicker layer of soil underneath. They are mainly used for filling in small bald patches in your yard. However, they can also be used to establish a brand new lawn, slightly faster than seed, but less expensive than sod. Whatever you choose, be sure to keep a regular lawn maintenance schedule to make sure your lawn grows healthy and vibrant.

When To Plant It

Like every grass species, Kentucky bluegrass has a particular season in which it thrives best. For cool-season grasses, this is during the spring or early fall as temperatures begin to drop (specifically between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit). If you try to establish a Kentucky bluegrass lawn in the hot summer months, it will put unnecessary stress on the grass, making optimal growth more difficult. Being a cool-season grass, Kentucky bluegrass actually goes dormant if temperatures get too high or if it does not receive enough water. During dormancy, the grass will turn brown to conserve nutrients and energy and will not turn green again until conditions are suitable.

Where Will It Grow

As the name suggests, cool-season grasses grow best in areas with cold winters and mild summers. For this reason, it grows best in its namesake state, along with other northern and midwestern states. You will occasionally find it on lawns in hotter regions more tailored for warm-season grasses, such as in the Texas panhandle. However, this requires extensive watering and extra care. If you live in a hot, humid area , such as Florida, your best choice for a healthy, green lawn is a warm-season grass, such as St. Augustine grass.

How to Care for Kentucky Bluegrass

Depending on the time of year, the best way to care for Kentucky bluegrass changes, such as mowing height and fertilization frequency. In the summer, bluegrass requires little care because it will most likely be dormant, depending on the location in which you live. You will want to focus your high-nitrogen fertilization efforts in late summer and fall. This will encourage growth following a dormancy from a hot summer, as well as prepare the grass for upcoming winter dormancy if the temperature drops too low. Once winter dormancy occurs, you want to avoid applying fertilizer until spring comes around. Once Kentucky bluegrass starts to turn green in the spring once again, you still do not want to apply too much nitrogen fertilizer. This will cause the grass to grow too much before it enters summer dormancy. The best way to determine exactly what fertilizer to choose during each season is to conduct a soil test. This will allow you to see exactly what nutrients your soil is deficient in, ensuring your grass gets the nutrients it needs to thrive. In regard to mowing, you will generally want to keep your grass between 2 and 2.5 inches high, except in the summer, when you can allow the grass to grow up to 4 inches in height. For help with maintaining your Kentucky bluegrass, consider establishing a lawn care plan with a local professional.

How to Get Rid of It

Similar to other fast-growing grasses, such as Bermuda grass or tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass can become a weed if it ends up growing in unwanted areas. Luckily, bluegrass does not spread as quickly as other grasses or weeds, so it is relatively simple to kill. Oftentimes, the weed you might be seeing is annual bluegrass, as opposed to Kentucky bluegrass. Either way, if you find an unwanted plant in your lawn, it is best to treat it with a selective herbicide. This will target specific species of grass while avoiding the desirable grass and plants you wish to keep in your yard. Avoid the problem in the future by using a pre-emergent herbicide, which is used as a form of prevention, killing weeds before they have a chance to germinate.

For help with the many tasks required to maintain a Kentucky bluegrass lawn, reach out to us here at LawnCare.Net. Our network of experts can recommend the services needed to keep your lawn looking its best.

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