The Turf Grass Demonstration Garden

The turfgrass demonstration consists of three different plots.

Characteristics of Good Turfgrass

The desirable traits of turfgrass are quick and reliable germination, drought resistance, traffic tolerance, and ability to withstand mowing.  Grass seed should be planted in late summer or early fall (before mid-October). Before planting, do a soil test on your plot and observe the environmental conditions.  Is the area perpetually shaded or often wet?  Take these characteristics into consideration when deciding which species or mix of species to plant.          

Turfgrass Maintenance

After you have established an adequate lawn, some maintenance is necessary to ensure the continued health of your lawn. Mowing should take place on a regular basis, frequently enough that no more than one third of the leaf is removed at one mowing.  The ideal mowing height is at or above two inches.  Mowing equipment should be kept sharp to avoid fraying the leaves of the turfgrass. Fertilization is a vital way to improve the health of turfgrass.  Apply fertilizer and lime if necessary based on the results of a soil test.  Try to purchase fertilizer that contains nitrogen that is at least 30% water insoluble (WIN), so that the nitrogen will be released over a period of time.
Why Plant Turf?

For many people, a lawn is a great asset because it is visually attractive. Turf also serves many important ecological functions.  Grass halts both water and wind erosion of soil, reducing dust and mud problems.  Grass also halts runoff, enhancing groundwater reserves. The microorganisms that live in grass are beneficial decomposers that can break down noxious substances such as pesticides.  Grass can also support a large earthworm population.  When mowed grass replaces a wild area, the number of disease-carrying pests is reduced.  In addition, mowed grass produces few flowers or allergy-linked pollens.  Grass also reduces the ground temperature.  This is especially significant in urban areas where buildings and pavement radiate heat.  Grass areas can absorb this heat and reduce the amount of air conditioning that is needed. When used as a covering for recreational fields, turfgrass provides high quality cushioning, and is a low-cost, durable surface.  Thus, benefits of planting grass are numerous, especially when turfgrass replaces a paved area.

Turfgrass Species Planted at the Learning Gardens:

Kentucky bluegrass:
Recuperates quickly from drought or damage
Grows well in well-drained sunny areas
Perennial ryegrass:
Germinates rapidly
Tolerates moderate shade
Tall fescue:
Tolerates heat, drought, and  moderate shade
Coarse texture
Fine fescues (Creeping Red, Chewings, Hard, Sheep):
Good for shady conditions
Tolerates drought, low pH, and low fertility  

The turfgrass demonstration consists of three different plots. The area closest to the road was treated with corn gluten meal, a natural weed control method.  The middle section was left to grow freely with no weed control, and the section closest to the building was treated with commercial fertilizer and weed control methods (Confront was the product used).  The presence of broadleaf weeds is significantly reduced in both the corn gluten meal and Confront treated areas.

In the future, various renovation methods will be tried on each of the three plots.  Plot A will be completely killed using roundup before reseeding.  In Plot B weeds will be targeted and selectively killed before the seed is broadcasted.  In Plot C, seed will be spread on top of the existing turfgrass.