Bluegrass is a cool season turfgrass that is spread by rhizomes. It is best adapted to well drained, moist, fertile soils with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Bluegrass does best in full sun but will tolerate light shade. It will not perform well on shallow, compacted soils, or where the pH is excessively high or low. Under the right conditions and with proper management, bluegrass can make a beautiful lawn.
Good soil preparation is extremely important when planting a new lawn. Test the soil and till in appropriate nutrients and amendments based on a soil test. Bluegrass lawns are established by seeding or sodding. September is the best time to seed a lawn. Spring seeding can be done but is more difficult. Sodding can be done almost year round, but fall and spring offer several advantages.
Proper mowing is important for a quality lawn. The recommended mowing height is between two and three inches with three being ideal during the summer months of heat or drought stress. Mowing too low will encourage weed invasions. The higher mowing height will encourage a deeper root system, one that is more resilient under Kansas City summers.
Generally, bluegrass will need more water to stay green than other turfgrass species. It will survive extended hot, dry periods by going dormant if not watered. If allowed to go dormant, it will turn brown. If a green color is desired all summer, bluegrass will require about 1 and ½ inches of water per week during hot weather. Less water is needed in the spring and fall.
The amount of fertilizer needed depends on your expectations. A lower input lawn where visual appearance is not the primary objective should be fertilized once or twice a year. A higher quality lawn will require three to four applications of fertilizer per year. Most of the fertilizer should be applied during the fall months of September and early November.
Bluegrass is prone to several diseases including Summer Patch and Dollar Spot. Good management and cultural practices are the best control for these problems. Insect damage can also occur. Grubs are the most common insect pests. Choose the proper timing of control and recommended product for success.
Bluegrass is the highest quality lawn for this area based on its visual characteristics. Unfortunately, it requires good management for success.
Also see: University of Missouri XPLOR guidesheet mx0388 - The Turf Disease Diagnostic Program at MU (abstract only)