Last Updated on March 13, 2023 by Mattias
Bermuda grass and Kentucky bluegrass are two of the most popular and well-liked types of turfgrass. These varieties are widely used around the United States and other parts of the world, but are you having trouble deciding which one is right for your property?
Certain factors need to be considered when choosing the most suitable grass variety for your lawn.
Look below and learn about these grasses’ differences and similarities. Bermuda grass vs Kentucky grass is often engaged in a turf war. Let’s see which one wins for you.
Bermuda Grass vs Kentucky Bluegrass
Apart from their color, these grasses don’t share many similarities. The main difference between these varieties is that bermuda is a warm season grass, whereas Kentucky is cool-season grass. This contrasting feature also indicates that these grasses have different growth periods and thrive in entirely different regions. Kentucky bluegrass requires less maintenance than bermudagrass. It has a softer texture and can recover faster. As for bermuda itself, this species is famous for its dense turf, fast growth, and excellent resilience.
These are the top differences between Bermuda grass and Kentucky bluegrass, and even though these grasses are tough and highly adaptable, some pretty notable factors distinguish them. As mentioned above, they are not suitable for the same weather conditions. However, there are a few exceptions and rare scenarios where bermuda and Kentucky bluegrass can co-exist.
If you are curious as to what else these grasses have in store. We’d be glad to tell you there are plenty of interesting things. Let’s dig in and find out.
Bermuda Grass vs Kentucky Bluegrass – Appearance
Bermuda grass (cynodon dactylon) is one of the most popular warm-season grasses, and it has a very attractive appearance. Bermdua’s blades have a dark blue-green color that mainly glows in the warmth. Upon looking at bermuda, you’ll also notice that even though its grass blades are soft and plump, the grass is typically coarse-textured. Blades will have small hairs on the sheath, and their usual height will range from 4 to 16 inches. When it comes to identifying a Bermuda grass lawn, you’ll be able to recognize it by its dense growth. This grass is known to spread aggressively by stolons and rhizomes, and some of above ground stems will be visible.
Furthermore, Kentucky bluegrass is a cool-season grass with a dark green color. Despite what its name suggests, this grass is not blue but has some other interesting features. This grass will have canoe-shaped leaf tips, and a visible vein will run through the middle. You can also say that its leaf tip resembles that of a boat, and its seed heads resemble a tree. Kentucky bluegrass is one of the softest grass varieties and has a fine texture. Its rounded edges keep the grass soft even after mowing
Bermuda Grass vs Kentucky Bluegrass – Growth Requirements
Each grass has a specific set of needs essential for healthy growth. Regarding bermuda and Kentucky bluegrass, their needs are somewhat similar but distinct nonetheless.
Since bermuda is a warm-season grass, its first and most important growth requirement is high temperature, full sun, and direct sunlight. It may seem exaggerated, but your bermuda will die if it doesn’t receive at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. Refrain from planting this grass in a partially shaded area, and remove any furniture, trees, or shrubs blocking the direct light. As you know, Bermuda’s peak growing season starts in late spring and lasts throughout summer.
It goes into dormancy during the winter months to preserve its energy and comes out in early spring. Some maintenance necessities must be fulfilled during that period, but we will get to that later. As for its soil medium, the good news is that bermuda is adaptable to various conditions and can grow in almost any type of soil. It’s the most preferred medium, well-drained sandy soil, but you can grow it in clay, loamy, and silt. However, make sure that the ph level ranges from acidic to neutral (6-7)
On the other hand, Kentucky bluegrass is a perennial cool-season grass that comes year after year to thrive on your lawn. Its optimum growth period is in the spring and fall season but it goes dormant if the temperature drops too low. A Kentucky bluegrass lawn needs at least 4 hours of direct sunlight to grow properly, and unlike bermuda, this species can tolerate partial shade. However, if it’s left in the shade for too long and necessary sunlight isn’t received, it will gradually thin out and die.
Even though Kentucky bluegrass is a cool-season grass variety, it will be severely damaged under prolonged periods of freezing temperatures. As for soil type, it is also adaptable to various soil conditions as long as they are well-drained and have a pH between 6 and 7. Kentucky can tolerate wetter soil than bermuda but doesn’t necessarily prefer sandy soils.
Bermuda Grass vs Kentucky Bluegrass – Characteristics
Another thing that’ll help you choose between Bermuda grass and Kentucky bluegrass is comparing their characteristics. Look at their distinct features listed below and decide which seems more appealing.
Bermuda grass is an invasive and fast-growing grass that, despite its advantages, can come across as aggressive. It is a warm-season grass, so its main characteristic is its ability to grow in warm weather and hot temperatures. The ideal temperature ranges between 95 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning that bermuda can stand in scorching heat for hours without getting affected. Bermuda’s grass seeds start germinating in early spring and fully green up by the end of the season.
It is no surprise that this tough grass is drought tolerant as well. This means that your bermuda will be able to survive and grow in the harshest of weather conditions. Bermuda’s drought tolerance enables it to survive hot and dry conditions, but it is not the same as drought resistance. Bermuda will keep growing but turn brown when an adequate water supply isn’t given.
You need to know that even though Bermuda’s growth won’t be as effective in drought conditions, it will happen nonetheless. If you’re living in an area that continuously undergoes drought and lacks water, then bermuda will be the best choice for your lawn. Normally, your grass needs an inch of water weekly for optimum growth, but you can reduce it to a quarter of an inch in the drought season.
One of bermuda grass’s most beneficial characteristics is that it can repair itself quickly. As you must know, this grass performs peerlessly under heavy foot traffic and establishes a thick turf. If it gets damaged or trampled because of frequent use, it will bounce back on its own with minimum effort from your side. Recovery will be even faster if your grass blades are well-mowed and properly fertilized with nutrients.
Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most popular cool-season grasses and the softest among all varieties. This grass is mostly used in northern states and northern coastal areas or transition zones, where their qualities will be useful for lawn owners. Even though Kentucky is more shade-tolerant than bermuda, that doesn’t mean it’s very good at it. If this grass is planted in an area where direct sunlight isn’t accessible, it will start losing its dark green color, and its quality will decrease. To state it as simply as possible, this grass should be planted where 3-4 hours of direct sunlight and 4-5 hours of indirect light are easily available.
Kentucky bluegrass grows and spreads quickly, but unlike bermuda, it doesn’t have a deep root system. It reproduces through underground stems (rhizomes) and covers your lawn with its soft texture. This grass is pleasant to walk on barefoot and a great option for yards, golf courses, and school playgrounds. It can also tolerate high traffic and perform well under frequent use, so your kids or pets can play on it for hours.
Like Bermuda grass, Kentucky bluegrass also has an excellent capacity for self-repair and can bounce back quickly after damage.
Bermuda Grass vs Kentucky Bluegrass – Maintenance Requirements
Maintenance is an essential requirement of any lawn. From watering needs to fertilizers and mowing, each step is crucial to your lawn’s growth.
Bermuda is a type of grass that is high maintenance and grows best with your undivided attention. The same can be said for Kentucky bluegrass because they have specific needs. Where bermuda grass needs 1 – 1.5 inches of water per week, Kentucky bluegrass can suffice with less than 1 inch of water per week.
As for mowing, Kentucky bluegrass can be mowed down to 1 inch, but 2.5-3.5 inches are recommended. Common bermuda grass should be mowed when it reaches 2 inches, and hybrid varieties should be kept at ½ inches for best quality. A general rule of thumb is that you should adjust mowing with the grass’s growth rate instead of setting a constant schedule.
I.e when the grass reaches a certain height, get your mower ready and give your lawn a trim.
Lastly, Bermuda grass should be fertilized with 4-5 pounds of nitrogen-rich fertilizer per 1000 square feet. The best time to apply fertilizer on a bermuda lawn is between March and August. On the other hand, Kentucky bluegrass needs proper fertilization in autumn and occasional application of diluted fertilizer for the rest of the year. Fertilizers are essential because they will speed up the seed’s germination process and ensure a green lawn all year.
Occasional aeration might also be needed based on your lawn’s condition. If your soil is compacted, you should use core aeration to punch holes in the soil surface to encourage better circulation. Lastly, If there is a noticeable thatch build-up on the top layer of soil, you should use the proper tools to repair the situation.
Bermuda Grass vs Kentucky Bluegrass – Uses
Bermuda grass is a well-liked grass species that is not only used in home lawns but professional fields as well. Bermuda grass would be best used on a field where the land is flat, and the soil is well-drained. Bermuda grass can be used in various landscapes ranging from golf courses, athletic fields, high-quality yards, fairways, roadsides, pastures, and more. Wherever you plant Bermuda grass seeds, ensure the site can provide all the other requirements.
Kentucky grass is one of the toughest cool-season grasses suitable for all places under suitable weather conditions. It will be best used in areas with frequent foot traffic where kids and pets can play. It can also be used in lawns, sports fields, fairways, golf courses, and several other landscapes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you mix bermuda grass and Kentucky bluegrass
Yes, Bermuda and Kentucky can be mixed. Their mixture, “Blumuda” is quite a famous grass combination. This will be a good idea for the lawns in transition zones or regions where bermudagrass takes longer to grow. You can also use Kentucky bluegrass in your bermuda lawn to fill bare spots.
Will Bermuda grass take over Kentucky bluegrass?
Your bermuda grass has aggressive growth that can take over various species, but surprisingly enough, it can co-exist with Kentucky bluegrass without choking it out. They will thrive in transition zones, and Kentucky can be planted to cover up shady areas in your bermuda lawn.
Is Bermuda grass better than Kentucky bluegrass?
Both types of grasses are tough and resilient, and their characteristics are suitable for different conditions. Still, Kentucky bluegrass has a softer texture than bermudagrass, and it needs way less maintenance.
Is Kentucky bluegrass good for hot weather?
Cool-season grasses such as perennial ryegrass, fine fescue, poa annua, and even Kentucky bluegrass are best suited for the 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit range because they are not adaptable to high temperatures, and extreme heat can damage them.
Bermuda Grass vs Kentucky Bluegrass Summary
In this article, we comprehensively expanded on Bermuda Grass vs Kentucky Bluegrass. We talked about different areas in which these grasses are alike and contrasted. From their appearance and growth requirements to their characteristics and uses, bermudagrass and Kentucky were fully explored.
At last, we can say that these grasses are tough varieties adaptable to various soil types and weather conditions. However, they’ll grow best if you plant them in their specialized region.
Now that you have read this article and understood the comparison, we hope it helps you choose the right one for your property. At the end of the day, it is your decision, but we advise you to choose the grass that falls hand-in-hand with your site conditions so that the best results can be enjoyed.
Did you find this article helpful? Make sure to share it with your friends and family so they can choose a suitable grass variety for their lawns.
Meet Mattias Jonsson, the head of content at RainSaucers. Passionate about gardening and water-related topics, he’s dedicated to providing expert information and resources to help improve your home, health, and wallet. Learn from his research and experience.