Kentucky bluegrass may conjure up images of rolling hills and thoroughbred horses in the minds of many people, but the popularity of the grass extends beyond this one state. In fact, it is America's most popular grass. Outside of some supplemental water and fertilizer, it is virtually maintenance free–making it a favorite of landscapers, commercial property owners and homeowners.
Though the name suggests that the seed will produce a lush lawn full of grass that is blue, this is not the case. The grass is a deep green color and grows densely, meaning the lawn should look full and healthy. The name actually comes from the seed stem and flower head, which can be blue or dark navy blue. Most of the time, the grass is not allowed to reach this height to reveal this feature.
Kentucky bluegrass is a cool season grass that grows extensively in many areas of the United States. The southern tier of the country is one of the few places this grass will not grow. It may also be harder to grow in the western portion of the country, where you will need extensive watering to maintain it in many locations.
The roots of Kentucky bluegrass stay near the surface, causing one of the problems with this otherwise versatile grass. It is not drought tolerant because the roots cannot reach down into where soil moisture may be present. Therefore, the species requires supplemental watering at least every one to three days during dry periods.
In order to see the bluish features of the grass, it must grow to its full height, which can be as tall as 3 feet. However, in most cases, the ideal mowing height for Kentucky bluegrass is 1.5 to 2.5 inches. Some cultivars of the grass can be cut even shorter for more specific uses, such as for golf courses or athletic fields.
Other than water, the only two other requirements for healthy bluegrass development is full sunlight and fertilizer. The grass is not very tolerant of shade, so you may wish to consider other varieties if you have large trees in your yard or have a portion of the yard that is partially shaded. Other than that, it is important to choose a good fertilizer for turfgrass.
The best fertilizers will be those specifically formulated for turfgrass (bluegrass is a type of turfgrass). These formulations have more nitrogen and less phosphorous and potassium. The University of Missouri Extension Office recommends 3 lbs. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Fertilize in September, November and May for optimum results and remember to use a slow-release nitrogen product over the winter.