mid-August into September
6 to 18 in.
12 to 18 in.
USDA zones 4-9
hardy to 7,500 ft.
Blue grama grass is a low growing, warm season bunch grass native to the central US. It can be used as a low water lawn in low-traffic sites in the Colorado Springs area. Blue grama is one of the most common native grasses of the short grass prairie and has been designated as the state grass of Colorado because of its widespread distribution and importance.
During its active growing season from mid-May through early October, its fine blades are a light green color. In August, attractive seed heads form if left unmowed. During the winter, it is a light tan color.
It uses one-third of the water of a traditional Kentucky bluegrass lawn and is very drought tolerant. Blue grama does not recover well from heavy foot traffic. Because it is a bunchgrass, it mixes well with wildflowers.
There are three areas of blue grama grass at the Xeriscape Garden. One area is a mixture with buffalograss and maintained as a "lawn." The second area is a naturalized slope that is not mowed. The third area is a lawn area with blue grama alone. All three areas have performed beautifully for many years. There is also an attractive stand at the Cottonwood Creek Demonstration Garden. Blue grama is a fantastic option for a water conserving lawn or natural area.
This grass makes an attractive "natural" lawn if left unmowed, but will tolerate regular mowing at a height of 3 inches. Because of its slow growth rate, mowing can be reduced to two or three times during the growing season. If left unmowed, mow it once in February to remove the old growth.
Blue grama can be watered once every 7-10 days during the summer to maintain its green color, or it can be watered only during extended dry spells. If not irrigated, it will go dormant (turn brown) when there is no rain. Fertilize with 1/2 lb. of nitrogen per 1000 square feet once a year in June.
When establishing a blue grama lawn from seed, take extra care to eliminate weeds before seeding, and keep the area well weeded after seeding. Plan to seed in mid June to early July.