Kentucky bluegrass is the turf grass species most widely used in the northern half of the U.S. It produces a dark-green, medium textured, dense turf and spreads by underground rhizomes that can self-repair damaged spots.
A cool season turf grass, Kentucky bluegrass can go dormant in hot summers without adequate irrigation, and is susceptible to diseases and weeds. It prefers full sun but tolerates some shade; it does not tolerate salt spray. Some experts recommend a mixture of 15 percent perennial ryegrass and 85 percent Kentucky blue for a more disease-resistant and heat-tolerant turf.
A Kentucky bluegrass lawn can be established from sod or seed sown in the fall at two to three pounds per 1,000 square feet. Kentucky bluegrass needs a well-drained, moist, fertile soil with a pH between 6 and 7.
Because of its shallow root system Kentucky bluegrass needs frequent watering (1 ½ inches per week in hot weather) to stay green in the summer. A bluegrass lawn needs water when the blades get a bluish cast or when walking across the lawn leaves footprints. It will survive drought by turning brown.
Mowing Kentucky Blue Grass
Mow no more than 1/3 of the blade height at a time, to a height of 1 ½ to 3 inches. Mowing too low encourages weeds. High mower yields deeper rooting and greater heat and drought tolerance.
Fertilizing Kentucky Blue Grass
A soil test is the only way to know for sure what type of fertilizer and amendments the soil needs before planting. Kentucky Bluegrass needs well-prepared, well-drained soil. Organic matter (e.g. rotted manure or compost) applied before planting at a rate of three to six cubic years per 1,000 square feet and tilled to 8-10 inches improves the structure and fertility of the soil.
During active growth Kentucky bluegrass needs four to six pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
Want to Learn More About Growing Kentucky Bluegrass?
Contact your local seed sellers or extension service to find out the best varieties of Kentucky bluegrass for your location.
Most extension services also provide inexpensive soil text kits. Go to The National Institute of Food and Agriculture homepage to find the extension office nearest you.
The following websites have good information about growing a Kentucky bluegrass lawn:
Kentucky Bluegrass, Texas Cooperative Extension.
Here’s a .pdf file entitled Kentucky Bluegrass Lawns via Kansas State University.
And of course, who can forget Bill Murray and Chevy Chase’s discussion about bluegrass from the Comedy Caddyshack?