Kentucky Bluegrass: Types, Problems, & How To Plant

What is Kentucky Bluegrass?

Kentucky Bluegrass is the most widely used and favorite of all the bluegrass species.

This grass is a beautiful cool season lawn grass, well-known for its outstanding color, texture, and density. It is also known by other names like Bluegrass, common meadow-grass, or smooth meadow-grass.

The reason why it got the name bluegrass is due to its purple-blue colors and flowers that are only visible after the grass blossoms.

This perennial grass species is native to Northern Asia, Europe, Morocco, and Algeria. Although, this species is not native to the United States, but is grown all over the East Coast and in the west with irrigation.

It usually flourishes in cold and humid climates. It is basically known as a high-maintenance turfgrass. But if it gets proper care and maintenance, the result you will get is extraordinary. Not only that, this grass has the extraordinary capability of repairing itself from certain diseases.

Kentucky bluegrass has over 100 cultivars, and most of the stores selling its seeds have a variety to choose from. Durable, lush, and dense are the properties of lawns that we can get after the grass flourish by getting adequate care and needed growing conditions. It is available in the form of seed as well as Sod.

Kentucky Bluegrass at a Glance

Botanical namePoa Pratensis
Native AreaEurope, North Asia, Morocco, and Algeria
Plant typeDense Perennial grass.
Average mature size12 to 24 inches
Bloom timeFall, spring
Optimal Soil pH value for its cultivation6.0 to 7.0
Soil typeFertile, well-drained, and slightly coarse
Traffic ToleranceExcellent
Capacity for self-repairExcellent
Shade toleranceLimited
Hardiness zonesBetween 3a to 9a
Sun exposureFull sun, partial shade
Flower colorGreenish white

What Are The Types of Kentucky bluegrass?

Even Though there are more than 100 cultivars of Kentucky bluegrass, most commonly it is categorized into the following varieties:

  • Common Bluegrass Varieties
  • Improved Bluegrass Varieties

Common Kentucky Bluegrass Varieties

These varieties of bluegrass are also known as Public varieties. These are the oldest and most common types of this grass. These are best cultivated in areas that do not receive fertilization and irrigation on a regular basis. There is a high probability of these grasses getting diseased if kept on a fertility program.

The biggest disadvantage of these varieties is that it is highly prone to a disease named “leaf spot”, a fungal grass disease. 

Improved Kentucky Bluegrass Varieties

These varieties of Kentucky bluegrass were introduced many years after the introduction of common bluegrass varieties.

Improved bluegrass grows at a slower rate and needs much more maintenance than usual. The purpose of designing these grass types is to make them more immune to different grass diseases.

Majorly these grasses are used to prepare various sports and athletic fields.

Other Bluegrass Varieties

There are also some other bluegrass varieties such as rough bluegrass and annual bluegrass. Let’s get to know about them:

Rough Bluegrass

Rough bluegrass (Poa trivialis) is a yellowish-green grass with lighter green colored leaf blades. This grass doesn’t do well in arid or full-sun locations and thus, is cultivated in damp and shaded areas.

It is also known as rough-stalked meadow grass or rough meadow grass. It manages well with the polluted atmosphere of cities and towns. It flourishes in wet and cool spring conditions. Once it grows into your lawn, it takes over the grass already there, but turns brown and plays dead as the weather gets warm.

When it disappears in the summer, it leaves large bare spots which are often mistaken as fungal infections. These spots make this grass probably not so appealing.

Annual Bluegrass

Annual bluegrass (Poa annua) is a short cool season weedy grass that is very common in the United States. It is a prevalent turf grass in temperate climates. Annual Bluegrass looks bright green or yellow in color and has a shallow root system.

It germinates and matures in the fall, survives through the winter, and then grows abundantly in the spring, producing a lot of seeds. As the summer heat hits the annual bluegrass, it starts disappearing slowly leaving behind some bare patches.

This grass grows rapidly from seed, flowering in 6 weeks, seeding, and then dies.

How And When To Plant Kentucky Bluegrass?

Kentucky bluegrass can be grown through either seeds or sod. There is a little difference between both. Also, there are certain important factors that you need to take care of while planting bluegrass through seeds or sod.

Planting Kentucky Bluegrass Through Seeds

Let’s understand how to cultivate bluegrass with the help of seeds.

  • The very first step in the process is eliminating any existing weeds or any other existing grass from the lawn.
  • Wait for at least 2 weeks after finishing this process. In the case of clayey soil, add some organic matter such as peat moss, manure, compost, etc. to the soil. This process lets the grass grow better and more effectively.
  • Now, till the soil as much as possible. This could be done either manually or with the help of a machine. 
  • In the next step, smoothen up the soil with the help of a rake. It will ease down the planting process.
  • Now, spread the seeds everywhere over the soil in the lawn. To spread the seed evenly and prevent overseeding, use a slice seeder or broadcast spreader.
  • Then wet the soil deeply with water with the help of a garden hose. Maintain the flow of water by watering at least 1 time in a day.
  • If there is dry or hot weather, you should water it more. Now, be patient, as it will take approximately 2 to 4 weeks to get the seed germinated.
  • After a few weeks, decrease the frequency of watering, but increase the quantity of water.

When to plant Kentucky bluegrass through seeds?

Fall is the best time to plant bluegrass with seeds as there will be enough time for the grass to blossom till winter arrives.

Planting Kentucky Bluegrass Through Sod

To plant the bluegrass with Sod, follow the same steps initially as followed in the seeding process, which include:

  • Eliminating any existing weeds or grass from the lawn. After that, give a break of at least 2 weeks to the soil.
  • Add organic matter to the soil, if it is clayey.
  • Till the soil deeply either manually or with the help of a machine, and make the soil smooth with a rake. 
  • Lay the Sod lengthwise over the soil in a way that the edges of each Sod touch the edge of the other adjacent Sod. Now, irrigate them properly for the coming few weeks.
  • After germination is done, the grass will require approximately an inch of water per week.

When to plant Kentucky bluegrass Sod?

The best recommended time period to lay bluegrass sod is early spring and late fall.

Never install the sod during times of drought as they need large amounts of water to grow the grass.

Problems That Might Occur With Kentucky Bluegrass

There are certain diseases and problems to which Kentucky bluegrass easily gets prone. Kentucky Bluegrass is resistant to certain diseases but there are some which cause extensive damage to the lawn with this grass.

Let’s understand the problems that might trouble Kentucky bluegrass.

1. Snow Molds

This disease is followed by circular patches of diameter 8 to 12 inches which are straw in color. In case of permissible weather, these patches continue to grow. Basically, they form below the snow during the winter. 

2. Leaf spot

This is the disease that occurs when the borders of the blades of grass get affected with purplish red and brown spots along with tan centers. The grass tips also sometimes start decaying. Majorly, they occur during spring due to fungus.

3. Rust

The blades of the grass appear to wither and yellow due to rust and it suddenly gets damaged or dies. It is usually an indication of low levels of nitrogen. 

4. Dollar spot

Dollar spot is the most widespread turfgrass disease to develop in your lawn and is common where there is a deficiency of nitrogen.

5. Red Thread

Small blighted areas appear on Kentucky bluegrass leaves in the early stages of red thread. Leaves become covered with reddish threads of fungal mycelium in the late stages. It affects the leaf, stem, and sheath of the grass, but can kill the whole plant in severe cases.

Bluegrass can be affected by a red thread due to conditions such as poor soil quality, insufficient nitrogen levels, and excessive moisture.

6. Powdery Mildew

When bluegrass is affected by powdery mildew, it causes gray or white spore masses on the surface of leaves. In the worst cases, it gets converted to yellow color. Some of the reasons causing powdery mildew are poor air circulation and moderate to high humidity.

7. Summer Patch

Summer patch appears as dark and crescent-shaped wilted spots, which range from just a few inches to a few feet in diameter. It is caused by a soil-borne fungus that infects roots in warm and wet soils.

This fungus can develop in excessive thatch, and poor-quality compacted soil.

8. Fairy Ring

Fairy rings are usually developed due to moist soils.

Fairy ring is caused by fungus and its symptoms depend on the species infecting the turf.

But its common symptom is a circular or semi-circular ring ranging from 1 to 25 feet or even more in diameter.

9. Pests

These are the list of certain diseases that can cause damage to Kentucky bluegrass and can create problems. But specific pests like billbugs and Chinch bugs can also target this species.

a) Billbugs

Billbugs are insects that can cause widespread and severe damage to your lawn. They feed on the grass blades, creating irregular or circular-shaped dead patches of grass.

b) Chinch Bugs

These are also problem insects for Kentucky bluegrass. These insects suck sap and inject toxins into the stems and crowns of grass.

With this, we have discussed everything about Kentucky Bluegrass. Hope you have liked reading this article.     


1) Kentucky Bluegrass – Texas A&M Agrilife Extension

2) Kentucky Bluegrass, Poa pratensis L. – Oregon State University Department of Horticulture

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