Kentucky bluegrass is a cool-season turf grass that is very popular in the upper two-thirds of the United States. This is the type of lawn everyone wants to go barefoot in. It’s a tender, lush grass that requires more water and fertilizer than other grasses, but is well worth the effort and expense. Bluegrass is a slow grower and therefore is commonly mixed with a perennial ryegrass. The trick to having a beautiful, dense lawn is in the preparation of the seed bed. Take the time to do this correctly and your lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood.
Dig up a small amount of soil and place it in a sandwich bag. Take the soil sample to a laboratory or local extension center for analyzing. It will tell you if your soil is deficient in any nutrient that will be needed to grow grass. Planting a new lawn can be very costly, and this step can save you much time and disappointment later. Planting time should be mid-September to early November, so start the process about three weeks before you plan on planting.
Till the area you will be planting in both directions. To avoid using a chemical herbicide that can be toxic or harmful to your new lawn, allow the soil to sit for about two weeks and till again. Add any amendments the laboratory told you the soil needed when you till the second time, so that they get mixed into the soil well.
Rake the soil out to pull out any leftover clumps of weeds and to level the ground. Break up any clumps of soil and make sure you leave no hills or valleys, as this will make the grass come up uneven and make it hard to mow.
Spread the seed with broadcast seeder at a rate of 2 to 3 lbs. of seed per 1,000 square feet. Rake the seed into the soil, as it needs solid contact to germinate. Then go over the entire area with a lawn roller to further press the seed into the soil. Lawn rollers can be rented at the local tool rental store.
Water the seed every day, twice a day if it is very dry, with a water delivery system that will not cause the seed to float into one area. Using a light sprinkling system is best. Once the seed has germinated, the watering can be cut back to twice a week at the rate of an inch per watering. Germination can take from a month to two months.
Apply a lawn fertilizer that is slightly high in nitrogen after the seed has germinated and then once a month during the growing season. Water the fertilizer in well so that it does not burn the new seedlings.
Mow the lawn when it reaches about 3 inches in height, down to 2 inches. Keep it mowed to 2 inches or slightly higher through the growing season. Cutting too short will damage roots, encourage grubs and may cause the grass to burn.