Most Kentucky bluegrass varieties grow well in colder climates, such in Michigan, which consists of U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 6. There are more than 100 Kentucky bluegrass cultivators (also called varieties), all of which grow dense sod if well watered, fertilized, weeded and mowed at a rate that only one-third of the grass is cut to a final height of 2 to 3 inches.
Select Kentucky bluegrass that is actually a blend of at least three different varieties. This ensures better success. For Michigan, avoid varieties that tolerate warmer zones, such as Baron and Vantage, and if you want to cut your grass shorter than 2 inches, choose ones that can handle close mowings, such as Bristol and Touchdown. In addition, some cultivators are more shade tolerant, such as Glade and Nugget.
Prepare the lawn bed by tilling or loosening the soil about 1-inch deep. This step is optional but will optimize success.
Wait to plant your seeds until the soil temperatures reach at least 60 degrees F. This can be tested with a soil thermometer, but usually occurs in the late spring or early summer in Michigan’s climate. Alternatively, plant your seeds in the early fall when soil temperatures dip to about 70 degrees F.
Broadcast the seeds at a rate of 2 to 3 pounds for every 1000 square feet. Use a handheld spreader, which uses a hand crank to evenly distribute the seeds or a push seeder.
Apply a nitrogen fertilizer at a rate of 1 pound per 1000 square feet. Repeat four to five times the first year, and then repeat three times a year thereafter. If you notice your Kentucky bluegrass “burning,” you are applying too much fertilizer and should reduce the amount and repetition. Always water your lawn well with at least 1/2 inch of water after fertilizing.
Water your lawn two to three times a day for the first two weeks. Then, water it about once or twice a day until the grass reaches 3 inches tall, when you should do your first mowing (down to 2 inches). If you live in zones 5 or 6, where summers are hotter than other parts of the state, and you planted your seed in the spring, you must rigidly keep up with this watering schedule or your grass will most likely dry out.