Although a native to Europe and Asia where it is widely known as Meadow Grass, Kentucky Bluegrass is the most popular cool season grass in the United States today, a situation which hasn't changed for a very long time, and with very good reason. Although Kentucky Bluegrass will never reach the same popularity in Australia due to our warm climate conditions, it is still highly suited to and recommended for our own cooler regions.
Kentucky Bluegrass is an extremely hardy, good looking lawn, with excellent repair capabilities, and is very well suited to companion planting with other grass types. This lawn will produce a thick lovely sod which is a pleasure to walk on under bare foot. The turf is well know for having a slightly Blue hue from which it's name is derived.
While Kentucky Bluegrass is a Cool Season bunch type grass, it also has a unique trait of growing underground runners called rhizomes. While not anywhere near as vigourous as the rhizomes of a grass such as Couch, these runners allow Bluegrass to spread itself and thicken the sod to a very thick density as well as providing moderate repair capabilities.
Apart from our normal good lawn care practices which are appropriate for all lawn types, Kentucky Bluegrass will need some slightly different considerations.
Any areas of turf which are becoming worn out or sparse should be re-seeded whenever necessary.
Kentucky Bluegrass will generally require a fertiliser with a higher than average Nitrogen level - look for this when choosing a lawn fertiliser brand. To learn about how to find Nitrogen levels on fertiliser packaging - check our article on fertiliser ratios.
here Bluegrass is grown in soils with a high alkalinity, the leaf of the turf may develop a slight yellowing, if this is occurring then an application of Iron lawn supplement will aid in providing the lawn with the essential requirements it needs. Alternatively, a year round fertilising regimen using a fertiliser with a higher Iron content would be appropriate. Fertilisers with high Iron contents are often marketed as Winter Fertilisers.
Lawn mowing heights will need to be kept much higher than most other grasses, with a height range of between 8-12 cm. When grown in it's peak cool season environment Bluegrass will be most active in Spring and Autumn, and it's at these times that lawn mowing will need be carried out on a regular basis, often around once a week to ensure the lawn doesn't suffer from having too much green leaf removed in a single mowing.
Bluegrass loves water, and will need a good, reliable water supply throughout it's life, with higher water requirements than other grasses in order to maintain the turf at it's best health.
Despite this, Kentucky Bluegrass can be an extremely good drought tolerant turf. The grass will begin to brown, die off and look sickly but can stay alive in it's depleted state very well. If drought is affecting your Bluegrass lawn then watering when possible is still recommended and the lawn may well still come back to life once water conditions improve.
There are over 100 cultivars of Kentucky Bluegrass which have been developed over the past two decades. In Australia, we will have only a few to choose from, which is of little concern as they are all very similar.
Bluegrass can be grown with seed or fresh sod in the form of roll on lawn, which will only be available in appropriate areas of the country where it is suitable for growing.
Careful attention will need to be paid to fertilise the new lawn frequently during it's first year, as well as maintaining adequate water supplies until it is fully established.