Under ideal conditions, 1 Kentucky Bluegrass seed can grow to cover one square foot of lawn in a single growing season (spring through fall). Established Bluegrass lawns can fill damaged areas up to 24 inches (60 cm) in diameter in a growing season. This growth rate is excellent among turf grasses. Kentucky Bluegrass has the fastest ability to spread and fill damaged areas of any cool-season turf grass.
If you are looking to seed a new yard and have it fill in quickly, or are thinking of overseeding your lawn, Kentucky Bluegrass is the best choice for cool-season lawns in the United States and Canada.
Does Kentucky Bluegrass Spread Faster than Other Grasses?
Kentucky Bluegrass spreads faster than its competitor grasses. This is because Kentucky Bluegrass (or KBG) sends out rhizomes (long roots) in both spring and late summer. Each rhizome has a node every few inches, which will form a new grass plant and send out its own roots and blades. In comparison, other cool-season grasses grow in bunches and don’t produce many rhizomes.
- Kentucky Bluegrass spreads faster than other cool-season grasses, such as Rye and Fescue.
- Bluegrass rhizomes spread in a network, turning Kentucky Bluegrass lawns into a thick sod lawn.
- Rye and Fescue tend to grow in bunches and don’t form root networks.
Kentucky Bluegrass is a common choice for high-traffic lawns, sports fields, and golf courses because it spreads so quickly. It repairs damage from foot and vehicle traffic at a quick rate.
Kentucky Bluegrass: Slow to Seed, Quick to Spread
Kentucky Bluegrass takes longer to sprout from seed than other cool-season grasses. It may be as long as 2 weeks after you spread your Bluegrass seed before you begin to see seedlings emerge. In comparison, many varieties of Fescue and Ryegrass begin to sprout within a week.
- Kentucky Bluegrass seed sprouts in 14 days.
- Fescue and Ryegrass typically sprout in 5–10 days.
- Once sprouted, Kentucky Bluegrass spreads to fill a lawn much faster than other grasses.
Remain patient and follow Kentucky Bluegrass water requirements until it begins to take root. A Kentucky Bluegrass lawn seeded in spring will spread through the soil and fill out by fall. If you seed in the fall, your lawn will be fully established by the middle of the following summer.
If the Kentucky Bluegrass seed you’re using isn’t working, I have found a lot of success with Smart Seed grass seed plus fertilizer by Pennington. The added fertilizer in the seed helps take a step out later in the process.
How To Encourage Kentucky Bluegrass to Spread Faster
In order to get the most out of your Bluegrass, give it the essentials: water and nutrients. If you are seeding a bare lawn or bare patch, make sure to prepare the ground, lightly cover the seed, and keep the soil moist to increase the germination rate and drive faster grass spread.
Watering new Kentucky Bluegrass seed is one of the most crucial steps for successful growth. I know I’ve struggled with providing enough water in the past, especially when I’m out for a weekend and can’t turn my sprinklers on. I eventually started using this scheduled watering timer by Rain Bird and now all the new seed I lay down gets water on a scheduled timer, whether I’m home or not.
- Advanced Scheduling: This easy-to-use 7-day digital timer is ideal for use with hose-end sprinklers, drip irrigation, and soaker hose, allowing you to program up to two watering times per day, any day(s) of the week.
- Flexible Watering: It's perfect for watering all areas of your yard, including gardens, landscaping beds, and both newly seeded and established lawns, with a working water pressure of 15 psi (minimum) – 90 psi (maximum).
- User Control: Instant override buttons for Rain Delay (cancel watering) and Water Now (manual watering) provide full control, while the device displays program status such as the next scheduled cycle and time remaining on the current cycle.
- When seeding new Bluegrass, keep the soil moist until the seeds begin to sprout. This will ensure higher germination rates. The more seedlings you get, the faster the grass will spread.
- Provide 1 inch of water per week to established Kentucky Bluegrass in cool weather. Increase to 2 inches per week in temperatures above 75℉ (24℃).
- Make sure to water during drought periods. Kentucky Bluegrass has shallow roots easily stricken by drought and heat. Growth may slow in peak summer temperatures.
- Follow a Kentucky Bluegrass fertilizer schedule where you apply fertilizer 2–4 times throughout the growing season to maximize spread. A Kentucky Bluegrass lawn requires 3–6 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet annually.
- Proper mowing height for Kentucky Bluegrass is 2.5–3 inches. This height maximizes leaf blade growth and grass spread.
By following a watering and fertilizer schedule for Kentucky Bluegrass, you will maximize grass growth and spread. Poorly maintained Bluegrass lawns may struggle and spread more slowly. Provide your Bluegrass lawn with the essentials and you will be rewarded with impressive growth through spring, summer, and fall.
Does Kentucky Bluegrass Spread on its Own?
Kentucky Bluegrass will send out rhizomes and spread on its own as long as it is fertilized, kept from suffering drought, and is maintained with regular mowing. This is in direct contrast to Rye and Tall Fescue, which are the other common turf grass varieties in regions where KBG grows. These grasses grow in bunches and new seed must be cast to encourage spread.
- Kentucky Bluegrass spreads on its own as long as it is properly maintained.
- Other cool-season grasses must be spread to new areas via seeding.
Although the Kentucky Bluegrass rhizomes aren’t visible, they are spreading beneath the soil. Look for new sprouts filling in your lawn in spring and late summer.
Will Kentucky Bluegrass Fill in Bare Spots?
Kentucky Bluegrass will fill bare spots in your lawn naturally. Damage caused by traffic, pet use, or excavation will be reclaimed as Kentucky Bluegrass sends rhizomes into the soil.
- Established Kentucky Bluegrass will fill in bare spots up to 24 inches (60 cm) in diameter over the course of a single growing season.
- Reclaim large bare spots and prevent weeds from taking hold. You can do this by reseeding bare soil with Kentucky Bluegrass in spring or fall.
If your lawn has small bare spots where grass has been damaged, you can encourage Kentucky Bluegrass to fill the area quickly through cultivation, watering, and mowing. Reseeding is only necessary for bare spots larger than 24 inches (60 cm) in diameter.
Does Kentucky Bluegrass Spread Quickly?
Kentucky Bluegrass spreads faster than other turf grass varieties grown in the same climate. A single Kentucky Bluegrass seed can grow to fill a square foot of lawn over the course of a single growing season. Because it spreads naturally, Kentucky Bluegrass resists weeds, repairs itself, and forms a lush lawn.
To encourage your Bluegrass lawn to spread quickly, apply nitrogen fertilizer regularly throughout the growing season, provide 1–2 inches of water per week, and practice proper mowing methods. This will cause your Bluegrass to leaf out much more quickly than Ryegrasses and Tall Fescues, resulting in the most beautiful lawn that can be grown in northern climates.