Kentucky Bluegrass Identification

Overview

Lawns are an important part of any landscaping design, particularly in temperate climates. Lawns reduce soil erosion, water run-off and noise pollution and provide a safe place for children to play. Lawns even increase home values. Kentucky bluegrass is a good choice for moist, northern climates. It creates a dense, soft grass that can withstand active kids and pets.

History

Kentucky bluegrass is native to Europe, Asia and parts of the Middle East. It was probably brought to the United States by early colonists. Kentucky bluegrass now grows as a cool-season grass throughout the temperate northern states. It also grows as a transition grass in the south, providing green lawns during mild winter months.

Uses

Kentucky bluegrass forms a dense, soft sod ideal for use in heavy traffic areas, such as baseball parks, campgrounds and yards. It is also used for grazing horses and cattle. Deer and other wildlife graze on it, as well, in naturalized areas.

Identification

Kentucky bluegrass produces fine, blue-green leaves with characteristic boat-shaped (keeled) tips. The leaves grow in an upright, erect form during late spring and summer, while they may take a slightly drooped appearance in spring and fall. The seedheads grow to 24 inches high and have an open, pyramid shape containing hundreds of seeds.

Growth

Kentucky bluegrass spreads by underground rhizomes that may sometimes be visible at the lawn surface. Most rapid growth occurs in spring when new leaves emerge every 10 days. Kentucky bluegrass becomes dormant during summer heat, but remains green until fall. Shoots live for two years.

Considerations

With proper care, Kentucky bluegrass will develop into a healthy, lush lawn. Two practices--over fertilizing and mowing too short--cause the most damage to this grass, preventing it from putting down strong, healthy roots. Fertilize in the fall for best results, according to Cornell University Gardening Resources, and don't mow Kentucky bluegrass shorter than 2 inches. Kentucky bluegrass requires deep, weekly irrigation in dry climates. Combine Kentucky bluegrass with other grass types for increased drought and disease resistance.

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About this Author

Julie Christensen has been writing for five years. Her work has appeared in "The Friend" and "Western New York Parent" magazines. Her guide for teachers, "Helping Young Children Cope with Grief" will be published this spring. Christensen studied early childhood education at Ricks College and recently returned to school to complete a degree in communications/English.