Kentucky Bluegrass is known as the most popular planting grass in the US. It is also commonly known as Common Meadow Grass or Poa pratensis. Kentucky Bluegrass is used in lawns in almost every State in America. What follows is a comprehensive overview of Kentucky Bluegrass, its pros and cons, and everything in-between.
First, it didn’t originate from Kentucky, and second, it’s not blue. So one has to wonder why Kentucky Bluegrass is so strangely named.
It originated in Asia, Europe, and Northern Africa and was most likely brought to the US with European settlers and traders who established themselves in North America.
A cool-season grass, Kentucky Bluegrass is planted as turf. It is commonly found in all lawns because it is easy to grow and can withstand even cold temperatures. It can also be found in fairways of golf courses and athletic fields. It has also been extensively planted for pastures in areas where it flourishes.
Beautiful and lush green, the Kentucky Bluegrass lawns are almost made for walking on with bare feet. They’re not unlike a splendid carpet of green grass and should always be your first option.
Kentucky Bluegrass Varieties
Kentucky Bluegrass is often blended with some cool-season grasses such as tall fescue to increase its ability to recover from stress.
During the last 25 years, over 100 cultivars or varieties of Kentucky Bluegrass have been developed. Since the 1950s, most Kentucky Bluegrass seeds have been produced by specialty farms in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
When planting grass in your lawn, there are two types of Kentucky Bluegrass you can choose from:
Varieties of Kentucky Bluegrass are grouped into:
Aggressive Types. The ideal choice if irrigation is readily available.
- Dense growth
- Greens slowly
- Good tolerance to wear
- Quickly recover from traffic.
- Requires frequent core aerification
- Produces more thatch
- Ideal for sports turfs
- Mid Atlantic
- Low growth habit
- Grows low to the ground
- Greens slowly
- Resists leaf spot
- Can be mowed at ¾-inch when properly watered
- Purple while formant
- High turfgrass quality
- Highly resistant to leaf spot
- Blue Maxx
- Chicago II
- Golden Nugget
- No resistance to disease
- It comes with narrow leaves.
- Now tear tolerance
- Susceptible to discoloring and leaf spot during winter
- Used to conserve and stabilize soils (Midwest)
- Drought and high temperatures may cause summer dormancy.
- Seeds earlier
- Ideal for low budget lawns
- South Dakota
The Advantages of Kentucky Bluegrass
The Kentucky Bluegrass is a popular grass option for lawns. Planting Kentucky Bluegrass comes with many advantages:
- Beautiful and appealing
- Pleasant texture
- Soft to the touch
- Flourishes in areas with a full sun
- Good density and color
- High tolerance to cold
- Drought hardy
- Rapidly recovers from damage.
- High-spreading ability
- Very high resistance to disease
- It can heal and spread when damaged.
- Can stand up to high foot traffic
- Can withstand pet urine
- Highly resistant to wear and tear
- Grows and remains strong throughout the year
- Low in maintenance
The Kentucky Bluegrass is the best option for lawns in cool climate areas.
The Disadvantages of Kentucky Bluegrass
The Kentucky Bluegrass has its downsides, too:
- Low root system
- It consumes a lot of water.
- Germinates slowly
- Cannot tolerate shade
- Dies without sunlight
- Quickly creates excessive thatch.
- Prone to Necrotic Ring Spot and leaf spot diseases
- It goes dormant in the Fall.
- Not tolerant to shade
The Characteristics of Kentucky Bluegrass;
Many people confuse Kentucky Bluegrass with perennial ryegrass or tall fescue. However, it comes with a boat-shaped leaf tip and unique light-colored lines on the sides of its midrib.
Being a perennial lawn grass, Kentucky Bluegrass continually comes back every year. It is commonly grown in the US’s northern areas and experiences fast growth during the Fall.
As compared to other types of grass, the Kentucky Bluegrass comes with shallow roots. This means that it is less tolerant of drought and high temperatures. It quickly establishes itself from seeds but has a slow rate of germination.
Albeit slow in germination, the Kentucky Bluegrass, once established, will quickly spread across your yard through underground rhizomes. Many homeowners love this emerald or blue-green-colored grass because it is beautiful.
Texture. The Kentucky Bluegrass comes with a fine or medium texture. When fully grown, you can comfortably walk on it barefoot.
Leaves. This grass comes with V-shaped leaves that are mostly basal. Its narrow leaves are 1 – 7 inches long.
Two notable veins along the mid-section of the leaf’s upper section.
- Leaves are folded in bud.
- Tips are boat-shaped
- Membranes are collar-shaped
- Ligules are short
- It does not have auricles.
Characteristics of Growth. Kentucky Bluegrass grows from seeds, rhizomes, and tillers.
- Grows toa height of between 6 inches – 3 feet
- Slightly flat young shoots with round seed stalks
- Growth from rhizomes begins in the summer or Fall.
- Aerial culms start in spring and summer.
- Stays dormant during the summer with limited moisture
- The Kentucky Bluegrass is excellent for lawns because people love walking on it barefoot. Because it grows to be thick and durable, it is often used as sports field turf.
How to Properly Plant the Kentucky Bluegrass
Kentucky Bluegrass is a cool-season grass that grows best in the USDA zones 2 through 6. Therefore, it is best planted during the fall season; however, Spring is also an ideal planting time.
Preparing the soil before planting Kentucky Bluegrass will reduce its water requirement.
- Rototill the top 6-inch of the soil. This will add oxygen to the earth and break up complacent spots that limit root growth and water absorption.
- Next, you should till the organic matter into the soil.
- Black topsoil
- Shredded grass clippings, leaves, etc.)
- Slow-release and organic-based fertilizer
Kentucky Bluegrass can be grown from seeds. When planted through seeding, this grass will begin to sprout within 2-4 weeks. Seeding is best done during the Fall.
Kentucky Bluegrass can also grow from sod. Sod should be placed during the fall season to give the roots the rime to develop and stay firm in the soil.
Cool-season grass such as the Kentucky Bluegrass needs some reverse-engineering to create a thriving lawn. A good fall preparation will result in lush germination in spring.
- Aerate your lawn. Create small holes in the soil to allow water, nutrients, and air to reach the grass’s roots. It would help if you also considered dethatching the earth before aeration may be required, depending on the grass’s age and growth rate.
- Seed the lawn with the use of a slice seeder or broadcast spreader.
- Add fertilizer. Determine the chemical structure of your lawn so you can pick the right fertilizer. The fertilizer should provide grass seeds with nutrients in the proper proportions.
Maintain the soil’s moisture to ensure successful germination, so it is essential to irrigate your lawn to up to 16 inches. It will take about 21 to 28 days for Kentucky Bluegrass to germinate.
As soon as the grass’s blades start to appear and begin growing, water your lawn 1- 21/2 inches weekly.
How to Care for Kentucky Bluegrass
It would be best if you planted Kentucky Bluegrass in the early Fall for the best results, and that’s the right time to do significant maintenance on your lawn.
Thorough and deep watering encourages Kentucky Bluegrass roots to grow deep.
During normal weather conditions, Kentucky Bluegrass will require at least 1-inch of water, from irrigation or rainfall, each week. During warmer weather, it requires 2-inches or more water each week.
If you are using irrigation, sprinkle water into your Kentucky Bluegrass in the morning. This will ensure the water has all the time to dry before the mid-afternoon high-heat comes out and burns the grass. Early morning watering can also help prevent wet-lawn diseases.
The Kentucky Bluegrass should be mowed between 2 and 2-1/2 inches high, just like any cool-season grass during average weather. It can be cut to 3 – 4 inches tall during lower rainfall and high-heat (drought) seasons.
Kentucky needs more fertilizer than other grass, such as the tall fescue. You need to know the pH level and current nutrient of your soil so you can pick the right fertilizer. Adding fertilizer and other nutrients will improve the soil’s health, which translates to a healthy and lush turf.
You must regularly check the ph level of your soil. The ideal ground for Kentucky Bluegrass should have a pH level of 5.8 to 7.02. When the soil is alkaline, the blades of the Kentucky Bluegrass will lose their green color.
Aerating the soil loosens compacted soil giving more space for the roots to receive air and grow. All grasses should be aerated once per year, including Kentucky Bluegrass. Aeration should be done during the early Fall before the grass starts to grow again. Remember to aerate the soil before adding any pre-emergent herbicides.
Since Kentucky Bluegrass (KBG) has a rhizomatous growth, it quickly develops thatch (organic matter that develops between the grass and the soil), making it prone to diseases and drought stress. Your lawn may require dethatching every year or every two years, depending on your lawn care and mowing practices.
KBG, just like all kinds of turf, is prone to weeds. They become more prone when stressed during the drought season. The best way to protect your KBG lawn from weeds is by applying the best pesticides.
Spurge, Buttonweed, Virginia, and henbit are commonly found in Kentucky Bluegrass lawns and other cool-season lawns.
In the Fall, apply a pre-emergent herbicide on your Kentucky Bluegrass lawn. Make a second application of the herbicide in the spring. The herbicide will prevent the weeds from germinating.
If weeds are already growing in your lawn, they can be killed using a post-emergent herbicide. Use a selective post-emergent herbicide to only work on the sprayed weed and not damage the surrounding grass.
Using a non-selective post-emergent herbicide, on the other hand, will damage not only the weeds you are killing but the surrounding grass as well. Determine the type of weeds that are in your lawn so you can pick the right post-emergent pesticide.
You can reduce pests in your lawn if it is healthy. However, no matter how your Kentucky Bluegrass lawn is, it will not be 100% free from problems.
Sod webworms, clinch bugs, and white grubs are some of the pests you can find in your LBG lawn. Insecticides for turf can control pest infestations on your property. If there are white grubs, the milky spore is the best treatment.
Rust, leaf spot, dollar spot, blights, powdery mildew, and brown patch are some fungal diseases common to the Kentucky Bluegrass. You can use fungicides for preventive and remedial applications.
Kentucky Bluegrass is the most popular type of turf in the northern United States for many reasons. Kentucky Bluegrass is the best type of cool-season grass if you want to have a lawn with gorgeous color.
Some homeowners in the south love Kentucky Bluegrass’s appearance and take the risk of plating it in their yards. This can be a frustrating and challenging endeavor. Cool-season grass should only be planted in the northern United States.
Knowing everything you need to know about Kentucky Bluegrass will help ensure you will have a lush green KBG lawn. Add in proper maintenance, and this rich and beautiful turf will grow almost all -year-round- Fall, winter, and spring. It will, of course, remain dormant in the summer.
Edited by Patricia Godwin