Kentucky Bluegrass is a popular cool-season lawn turfgrass in the Northern United States that requires less attention than many other turfs. Learn more about how to keep your Kentucky Bluegrass lawn healthy and lush with these turf care tips.
Kentucky Bluegrass grows best in the cooler months of the fall and winter into early spring. Growth will slow during the summer as the grass goes dormant until cooler temperatures return.
This turf, a common choice for grassy areas in the cooler, Northern United States, does best in areas with full sunlight but can survive in partial shade. Kentucky Bluegrass grows a somewhat dense rhizome root network that survives in part through most winters. With this network, the bluegrass quickly fills in thin or damaged spots in the turf.
If you are seeding new Kentucky Bluegrass turf or overseeding an existing lawn to improve coverage, plan to seed the area in the early fall—before the first frost of winter, while the soil still retains some of summer's warmth. This will often be the month of September in the U.S.
Mowing recommendations for Kentucky bluegrass will change slightly with the seasons. This turf should be kept between 2 and a half and 3 inches high in the spring and fall. When summer heat arrives, raise your mower blade to around 3 and a half inches to allow taller growth.
For ideal grass health, never remove more than one-third of the total leaf height at a time. Another way to improve your Kentucky bluegrass lawn's health is to take on a fertilization schedule to help it along with any nutrients the soil may be missing.
Use a home soil test to learn more about what your soil may be missing or have in excess. With this information you can decide on a program of soil amendments or fertilizers to fill in the gaps that can give you the ideal lush, green lawn.
Fertilizers are typically applied 2 to 4 times per year, in the early spring, late spring, fall, and summer for Kentucky Bluegrass and other cool season lawns. Your bluegrass lawn may need up to 2 and a half inches of water a week during warmer weather. Find a watering schedule that works with any local regulations. During cooler months, an inch of water per week may be sufficient for a Kentucky Bluegrass lawn.
Aerating your yard once a year will help avoid densely compacted soil and will make grass growth and irrigation easier year-round. Kentucky Bluegrass can become heavily thatched as a result of mowing. De-thatching this turf once a year can help improve irrigation results and overall lawn health.
To avoid the appearance of unwanted weeds in your lawn, try an application of a pre-emergent herbicide, or weed preventer, in the early fall—before the first frost, and again in the spring before soil temperatures reach 50 degrees. Properly timed treatments will halt the germination of new weeds on your lawn and allow your Kentucky bluegrass the room it needs to flourish.
If there are already weeds present in your Kentucky Bluegrass lawn, identify them with the help of DoMyOwn's Lawn Weed Guides or a call to your local extension service office. Once identified, find a selective post-emergent weed killer that is labeled as safe to use to control that weed in Kentucky Bluegrass. Follow any labeled instructions closely, including mix rates and reapplication schedules.
In addition to weed control, it's also wise to keep an eye out for fungal lawn diseases that may strike. Kentucky bluegrass can fall victim to leaf spot, summer patch, powdery mildew, and other diseases that can damage the turf. Once a fungus has taken hold in your lawn, getting rid of the disease and the damage it causes can be more difficult. The best solution is to stop the disease before it starts with preventative fungicide applications. Apply the preventative fungicide treatments to your lawn every 14 to 28 days from late spring through the end of summer. Rotation is important with fungicides to prevent disease resistance.
If you have a current disease problem in your lawn, Check with your local extension service office to identify the disease and begin a treatment plan from there. Curative fungicide treatments can help stop the disease progression.
Kentucky Bluegrass can be a food source for some insects, both above ground and below ground. Chinch bugs, bluegrass billbugs, white grubs, sod webworms, and other lawn pests can cause turf damage.
Preventative lawn insecticide treatments can help reduce insects in Kentucky Bluegrass lawns. If you're dealing with specific pests in your lawn, check out DoMyOwn's collection of lawn pest treatment guides for more information and recommendations for getting rid of the specific pest.
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