The Grass Guide: Kentucky Bluegrass
Life Cycle: Cool-season perennial
Native to: Europe
Identification: Boat-shaped leaf tip
Bluegrass is synonymous with Kentucky and for good reason. Kentucky bluegrass is well-adapted to the cool, humid growing conditions found in Kentucky and throughout the transition zone of the Eastern United States and most northern states. It grows well in a wide variety of soils.
Kentucky bluegrass is very winter hardy but does not tolerate hot, dry summers found further south. It is low-growing and, therefore, low-yielding. As such, it is not an ideal forage for hay, but it excellent for horse pasture. It is highly nutritious, very palatable, and tolerant of close, frequent grazing. Kentucky bluegrass also forms a tight sod, providing good pasture footing. This grass species is slower to germinate than most cool season grasses, taking at 7 to 21 days.
Information provided by AnnMarie Kadnar, graduate student; Krista Lea, MS, coordinator of the University of Kentucky (UK) Horse Pasture Evaluation Program; and Ray Smith, PhD, professor and forage extension specialist. All three are part of UK’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.
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