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Bluegrass Planting Range Map USA

All grass lawns require some degree of maintenance. The choice of lawn grass determines to some degree the amount of care and inputs that your lawn will need.

Bluegrass lawns can be classified as medium to full maintenance turf covers. Older bluegrass varieties are more prone to disease and insects than the newer improved varieties and blue grass seed blends.

Bluegrass lawns are grown in the ice and snow areas of the country where the ground shifts and changes due to the weather conditions. This natural occurrence changes the topography of the lawn and sometimes it will be necessary to "roll" the lawn to flatten the small hills and firm the soil for better mowing conditions so that the grass will not become scalped during mowing. Uneven ground also keeps the mower blades from staying sharp and resulting in an choppy appearance when mown.

All lawns require yearly or seasonal fertilization for maximum growth. Watering, mowing, insect patrol and disease checks are a seasonal duty. Thatch may have to be removed if not done when mowing and every lawn would benefit from aerating every year or at least every couple of years. Pre-emergence weed killers (after lawn is established) must be applied at the right time to effectively work on the weeds before they appear and seed for the next year. Certain insect controls can be added ahead of the emerging pests if you are confident that they exist in your lawn.

Overseeding Bluegrass Lawns & Turf

Midnight Bluegrass

Maintenance might require overseeding a bluegrass lawn with a "summer" grass or an early annual rye grass for a year-round green lawn. Often the addition of creeping red fescue to a Bluegrass lawn in those areas that have become too shady overtime due to growth of your trees will improve the grass density. Annual or bi-annual (fall / spring) reseeding can also help to improve the existing grass variety and thicken areas that have been worn, eroded or killed out due to disease or insect damage.

Mowing Bluegrass Turf

Bluegrass lawns are best mown over 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 inches to maintain a manicured appearance, thicken the base, and help keep the most moisture in the grass during times of drought conditions. Lower mowing heights are only suggested for varieties especially developed as a dwarf type bluegrass. Remember to never remove over 1/3 of grass leaf per mowing.

Detailed Mowing Schedule For Kentucky Bluegrass

March 20 to April 10 Clean lawn of debris (i.e. rocks, sticks, etc.). Mow lawn as short as possible and remove clipping debris.
April 10 to June 15 Mow lawn at 2.0 inches. Mowing frequency should be dictated by growth rate, never removing more than one-third the mowing height at any mowing.
June 15 to Aug. 30 Raise mowing height to 2.5 inches.
Sept. 1 to Oct. 15 Lower mowing height to 2.0 inches.
Oct. 15 to Nov. 15 (or last mowing) Lower mowing height to 1.5 - 1.75 inches.
Alternative and Preferred Mowing Schedule: 
March 29 to last mowing Maintain 2.5 - 3.5 inch mowing height throughout season to promote rooting and stress tolerance.

Fertilization Of Bluegrass

Lawn Fertilization: Maintaining the bluegrass lawn will require approximately 3 to 5 lbs. of Nitrogen per 1000 square feet yearly. The actual amount needed is usually spread over 3 to 4  applications during the year and amounts applied are determined based on level of maintenance. High maintenance lawns need more N per 1000 sq. ft.Kentucky Bluegrass Seed

Read Lawnfertilizers.com for help with determining your fertilizer application rate. Or look through the Extension sites below for great advice!

Fertilizing lawn grasses works best if the poundage rate is divided into four feedings yearly. Cool grass lawns, such as Kentucky Bluegrass, should be fertilized in the early fall to bounce back from the summer heat and in late fall to get good root systems started for the next summer season. Grass root systems continue to develop underground just before the grass goes into dormancy. 

Spring fertilizations encourages green growth with a follow-up in a about 6-7 weeks for continuous growth and development of immunity to diseases. All fertilization should be done with lesser amounts of phosphorus EXCEPT the late spring feeding. Adding phosphorus at this time will help to build the immune system of the grass plant and this will help to fight off disease problems caused by fungus. Bluegrass can develop iron chlorosis when phosphorus is added during the other fertilization times in larger (or normal amounts for other grass species) numbers.

It would take a chemist to determine the exact amount of nutrients in needed for any one lawn. General guidelines are offered and may not always measure up to your expectations because your particular lawn may actually need more or less than the recommended rates. Personal observation and working with your lawn will give you the answers of "How much do I need to Fertilize my grass". Generally nutrients are needed if the following conditions occur: Slow growth weakening of color (nitrogen deficiency), or if too much rain has washed the nutrients you have just placed on the lawn from the soil.  A soil test obtained from your states cooperative extension agent can help determine correct fertilization rates.

EXTENSION Sources Of Maintenance & Fertilization Advice

These sources help you determine what rates of fertilization are needed and more.
Lawn Care & Fertilization - Ohio Extension
Kentucky Bluegrass Lawn Care Calendar - Nebraska Extension
Turfgrass Management - Minnesota Extension
Lawn Maintenance Calendar For Cool Season Grass - Cooperative Ext - Missouri

Additional Care Tips For Kentucky Bluegrass

Problems: Iron chlorosis can result from fertilizer that is added with a higher level of  phosphorus in the mix than bluegrass requires. If you are able to use pure nitrogen this isn't a problem, but most of us can't do this without burning the grass. Choose a fertilizer ratio that is lower in phosphorus to use during the three feedings of early fall, late fall, and early spring. If iron chlorosis develops amend the lawn with additional ferrous sulfate or some other iron additive at the recommended rate suggested by the product used.

Water Needs: Bluegrass's not a drought tolerant grass and needs a steady supply to maintain optimum growth. This does not mean to over water the lawn. Water only when the grass needs the extra moisture. The ground should be moist but not soggy. Although bluegrass can go into dormancy when the weather is too dry or a drought condition exists where you cannot water the lawn, this should be avoided to keep the lawn as healthy as possible to keep out insects and diseases. Weeds are easier to deposit for the next season or for years later when the grass isn't at "it's" best or rather stressed.

Weeding: Most bluegrass lawns are thick enough to choke out most of the weeds. Newly planted lawns if not treated with weed control beforehand will probably develop plenty of the weeds that were left or deposited from wind, rain ,birds, etc. These need to be treated at the very first onset of spring. Bluegrass lawns that have thinned out due to time, erosion, disease or insect damage will attract weeds also. Most of the weeds will be in the broadleaf family and can easily be identified by an internet search, a county agent, plant nursery person, or books on the subject.

Mowing:
Mow older bluegrass varieties were mown at 2-3 inches for a good looking lawn. With the emergence of newer, improved varieties many bluegrass lawns can now be mown shorter than 2 inches. Mowing maintenance requires that you should never remove over a third of the growth at the time. Consistent, not constant mowing  will help keep the density of the lawn thick and lush and helps to keep out insects and disease. Over mowing can lead to problems in dehydration of the sod base and invitation to insects with thinning of the grass material.

Diseases: Bluegrasses are prone to brown patch, snow mold, necrotic ring spot, fairy ring, red thread, stripe smut, and powdery mildew. When reseeding lawns for any reason try to chose newer varieties that are bred for better resistance to some of these diseases. Also note that proper maintenance for your lawn is the best defense against disease and weeds. Check with local pesticide companies for information on the types of chemicals controls that are available and how to use the products in the most beneficial way. Many products sold lists the diseases that will be killed but first you must recognize which disease you are dealing with. Beware of applying fungicides when you really might have an insect problem. Seedland does not advocate the use of chemicals such as herbicides and fungicides except by turf professionals. Again proper care of your Bluegrass lawn will eliminate most issues that would require the use of chemicals.

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