All rights reserved. Kentucky Bluegrass forms dense sod. The first picture shows an area around an irrigation repair where plywood was left on the Kentucky bluegrass turf long enough to kill all of the plants above ground. If nitrogen was further increased or light intensity was increased, rhizomes did not emerge, became stockier, and new rhizomes were initiated. This picture was taken in October. Compared to tall fescue, traditional Kentucky bluegrass varieties have relatively shallow roots, which typically lead to lower tolerances for heat and drought. During warmer weather and in the transition zone, 2 inches or more per week may be needed.1 While the relatively shallow roots of traditional KBG varieties historically required more water than tall fescue or most warm-season counterparts in similar situations, modern developments have greatly improved water efficiency. Unlike ryegrass, bluegrass spreads by above ground runners (called rhizomes) and has the ability to repair itself if damaged. Most areas that were completely dormant in September have now recovered. It looks dead. However, in the late spring and into summer, the shoots of this grass grow erect. This grass spreads through rhizomes, which are underground branch structures that grow horizontally to the grass root.It forms lateral roots from which the new grass stems grow. It has buds on every node and every bud is a reproductive structure. Cook, T., “Kentucky Bluegrass, Poa Pratensis L.," Oregon State University Department of Horticulture. Often referred to in the grass industry by the initials KBG, Kentucky bluegrass rose to become a premier lawn grass throughout much of the country. New shoots (rhizomes and tillers) are produced primarily in the spring and late summer. During this season, high nitrogen fertilization and close mowing retard the development of rhizomes. Most areas that were completely dormant in September have now recovered. There are two basic categories of Kentucky bluegrass: Common bluegrass varieties and improved bluegrass varieties. When your lawn goals call for a dense, durable, cool-season lawn with luxuriant color, Kentucky bluegrass may be the answer to your hopes. Premium, water-conserving seed such as Pennington Smart Seed Kentucky Bluegrass can add to your lawn's resilience. Here are some interesting pictures that I took at the research station late in the summer and through the fall showing the ability of Kentucky bluegrass to recover. Factors which favor photosynthesis such as long days, high temperatures and high light intensities promote rhizome development. Rhizomes The Kentucky bluegrass seedling starts life in spring season as a rolled bundle of five (maybe four) leaves above a few roots. Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) spreads by rhizomes. yTreatments applied 3 May 1986. xMean separation within columns by Duncan’s multiple range test, P = 0.05. wSamples insufficient for analysis. Add to that its medium to fine texture, and a KBG lawn is both beautiful to look at and comfortable for bare feet. Because of KBG's rhizomatous growth, the grass develops thatch easily, which can add to drought stress and potential for disease. The rhizome is a stem and not a root. Common bluegrass varieties are the oldest cultivars of Kentucky bluegrass. That’s probably because whenever an American TV show or movie needs to reference a type of lawn, that’s their go-to. During early spring or in the fall, the shoots are decumbent. Warm-season Bermudagrass, for example, is routinely kept near 1 inch tall, but KBG should be mowed to 2 to 2 1/2 inches high. Kentucky bluegrass produces a dense turf. Duble, R.L., “Kentucky Bluegrass," Texas A&M Agrilife Extension. It's not uncommon to find heavily irrigated Kentucky bluegrass growing in sun-baked lawns of the West and Southwest. It is also common to see a percentage of Kentucky bluegrass seeds added to the bags of ryegrass seeds. Pennington and Smart Seed are registered trademarks of Pennington Seed, Inc. Ironite is a trademark of Central Garden & Pet Company. Kentucky bluegrass is what's known as a perennial, cool-season lawn grass. Yup, rhizomes. Kentucky bluegrass lawns typically require more fertilizer than tall fescue and other grasses. Each tiller tuft may only survive for two years. An organic based concentrated lawn fertiliser that provides dual benefits of fast acting nutrients and slow release organics which mean you feed more lawn using less. Bermudagrass is valued for its exceptional heat and drought tolerance and a capacity to withstand heavy use and recuperate quickly. Kentucky bluegrass has underground rhizomes that rapidly fill worn areas. It is a highly palatable pasture grass. Harrison (1934) reported Kentucky bluegrass rhizomes left uncut receiving liberal amounts of nitrogen fertility emerged from the soil in the late fall. To see the specific varieties, click on the Cultivars page. The rye is a bunch grass and lacks a rhizome system. However, Kentucky bluegrass doesn't do it on its own. At maturity, Kentucky bluegrass is about 20-24 inches tall. In some cases, the growth habit of turfgrasses can be useful in identification. The picture below shows this underground stem system and how it grows from the plant. This aggressive growth habit gives KBG the capacity to recuperate quickly from damage. Like other cool-season grasses, Kentucky bluegrass should be mowed higher than warm-season grasses. The picture below shows this underground stem system and how it grows from the plant. Fescues used for turf include tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea), red fescue (Festuca rubra) and hard fescue (Festuca longifolia). 1. The recovery of Kentucky bluegrass following this summers drought has been amazing. Seedhead: Open, spreading, pyramidal panicle, 2 to 8 inches long, with panicle branches whorled in groups of 3 to 5; spikelets contain 3 to 5 florets; lemmas awnless but cobwebby-hairy at base. https://iaturf.blogspot.com/2010/09/nick-christians-september-6-2010-on.html Kentucky bluegrass prefers full sun, but some varieties can do well in lightly shaded areas. Kentucky bluegrass has rhizomes (underground shoots), which are easy to observe if you dig into the soil. Figure 4. Kentucky bluegrass is a palatable pasture plant making very early growth in the spring. It spreads by rhizomes and tillers and forms a dense sod. This combination of qualities leads many lawn owners in the United States to rely on Bermudagrass for its toughness and resilience. It has a high cold tolerance. Kentucky bluegrass reproduces from seeds, tillers, and rhizomes. During extreme heat or extended drought, the grass will go dormant. Kentucky Bluegrass is long-lived, with underground rhizomes, resulting in dense sod. Unlike bunch-forming grasses, such as tall fescue and ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass is a self-spreading, sod-forming grass. KBG has the greatest cold hardiness of all the common cool-season lawn grasses.3 It's used most extensively in northern climates where moderately warm summers and cold winters align with its natural preferences and growth cycle. Patton, A. and Boyd J., “Choosing a Grass for Arkansas Lawns," University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension. Dr. Christians received his B.S. Durable KBG is also a regular component of seed mixes for athletic fields. He also found that at 60F without nitrogen increased Kentucky bluegrass reproduces by rhizomes as well as by seed. As with other cool-season grasses, Kentucky bluegrass growth slows significantly during hot summer months. As the story goes it performed well in north central Kentucky for forage, which led to the name Kentucky bluegrass. All trademarks are either the property of Central Garden & Pet Company, its subsidiaries, divisions, affiliated and/or related companies or the property of their respective owners. The older varieties are used in many seed mixtures and is the type usually seen growing in home lawns. Look on the seed tag label of many grass seed mixes, including shade and sun & shade mixes, and you'll find KBG varieties mixed with other cool-season grasses. Description. It is characterized by smooth, compressed sheaths. Part of the charm of a healthy Kentucky bluegrass lawn is its rich emerald to blue-green color. This type of growth is what comprises most of the green tissue on the Kentucky bluegrass area. Pennington is committed to growing the finest grass seed possible and providing you with premium lawn and garden products, timely email tips, and educational resources to help you and your lawn grow. commercial Kentucky bluegrass had been sown in September 1936. The term used for these older varieties have become known as the \"public variet… 3. Like many common U.S. turf grasses, this versatile, widely used grass is native to Europe and northern Asia.1 Its first use in the U.S. came as a pasture grass in states like Kentucky, where it still covers the state's gently rolling hills. During periods of high heat and lower rainfall, recommended KBG mowing heights increase to 3 to 4 inches. Rhizome growth of Kentucky bluegrass cultivars during 1986.z zValues represent an average of nine observations across all pendimethalin levels (cultivar-pendime- thalin level interaction is NS). Depending on your mowing and lawn care practices, your KBG lawn may need dethatching every year or two. Nick Christians, Ph.D. – University professor of turfgrass management, Iowa State University, Department of Horticulture, Ames, IA, and adjunct faculty, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, IA. This means it comes back year after year and grows most vigorously during the cool seasons of fall and spring. Water conservation and a healthy, beautiful lawn aren't mutually exclusive. All content copyright © 2019 Pennington Seed, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Here is a bluegrass plant growing at the end of a rhizome. New tillers with their roots, grow from the nodes along the rhizomes, continually filling the spaces left by the death of the older tiller tufts. This grass requires a relatively high level of maintenance to look its best, but results can be worth it. Approximately 4 weeks after the plywood was removed, the area is showing considerable improvement without any reseeding. 4 Once established, it spreads readily via underground stems (known as rhizomes) to form a dense, thick turf. Its rhizomes allow it to spread and create new grass plants. This is the same type of recovery that we are seeing from drought affected areas this fall. Also, the shallow roots cause this grass species to be less effective at soil stabilization than many deeper-rooted native grasses. Ryegrass Seed Mixed with Kentucky Bluegrass Seed. It is a true sod-forming grass, unlike fescues which are bunch-forming. Higher seeding rates ensure quicker ground cover. When they are needed for the survival of the plant, the will begin to grow and form new crowns. In alkaline soils, blades can lose their rich green color due to pH-induced iron deficiency. Kentucky bluegrass rhizomes typically have a two-year lifespan. 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