November 28, 2015

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Educational Opportunity: 2016 Great Lakes School of Turfgrass Science

Any investment in quality continuing education opportunities benefits employees and employers alike. The 2016 Great Lakes School of Turfgrass Science Online is designed to help meet the continuing education needs of any individual or organization.  This 12-week program will have training sessions accessible live online on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 8pm (Central Standard Time) or the option to view the recorded sessions. This 12-week certificate-based program aims to provide participants with thorough and practical continuing education in turfgrass management.  The course is directed by educators from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cites and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with 12 turfgrass scientists and educators from seven Land-Grant Universities.

Turfgrasses are a resource in our urban community environments and best management practices are aligned with environmental, economic & societal priorities. The Great Lakes School of Turfgrass Science provides participants with the science based principles needed to effectively manage turf for recreation, sport, aesthetics and environmental protection. The Great Lakes School of Turfgrass Science is a quality training opportunity for:

  • Practitioners that establish and maintain turfgrass for athletic fields, consumer/commercial lawns, golf courses, recreation/parks, and sod production
  • Technical representatives from industry (suppliers of equipment, plant protectants, fertilizer, etc.)
  • Those new to the industry – wanting to get trained and off to a great start
  • Those with experience in the industry – to review/update their knowledge and practices

The registration deadline is December 31st, 2015. Students will have access to the course and materials at their convenience during the 12-week period via moodle class management system.  The fee for the course is $495, which includes supplemental materials and a certificate after successful completion of the program.  Visit this link to register:

Early registration is encouraged and pre-registration is required. 

For Further Information: Contact Sam Bauer, Assistant Extension Professor – University of Minnesota, Email: Phone: 763-767-3518.Capture

USGA, University of Minnesota Partner to Strengthen Golf’s Future


MTGF Super Tuesday at the Northern Green Expo

super tuesday

Q and A: Fall Lawncare

Q: What mowing height should I keep my lawn at before winter?

A: Generally we suggest to keep your lawn at the same height as you’ve had in the fall.  Cutting the lawn short prior to winter has been commonly suggested in the past as a means of reducing spring damage from snow molds and voles, but cutting the lawn too short will be more of a stress to the grass than the injury you may experience from diseases or critters.  If the standard mowing height for your lawn is 2.5 to 3 inches, we suggest to keep it at that.  If the height is 3+ inches, then we would recommending bringing it down to 3 inches before winter.  If you do plan to lower the mowing height, be sure to mow several times at this height, not just the final mow.  The goal is to condition the grass to this new height with several mowings prior to winter.  Again, we may only suggest this if you have had snow mold issues in the past of if you maintain your grass at a long height in the fall.  Also, be sure to continue mowing until the grass stops growing, this will help reduce snow molds and winter damage.  You can use a bagging attachment on the last mow of the year to help remove any excess organic matter and leaf litter.

Q: Should leaves be raked off of the lawn or mulched with a mower?

A: It depends.  For homeowners with numerous trees, it may be impractical to mulch all of them into the lawn without smothering the grass at some point.  In that case we would suggest mulching a majority of the leaves into the lawn and raking up the rest.  Be sure you can see at least 80-90% grass after mulching leaves, this will ensure that the leaves aren’t smothering the grass.  To practically mulch all of your tree leaves, you may need to be out with a mower more often than your grass needs to be cut, because if too many leaves fall you may not be able to mulch them into the the lawn.

Tree leaves contain organic matter and many nutrients that can be beneficial to your lawn.  For example, a study conducted in New Jersey on 100 municipal trees demonstrates nutrient content of 1% nitrogen, 0.1% phosphorus, 0.38% potassium, also secondary macro nutrients and micronutrients (1).  The organic matter will also benefit the lawn my increasing moisture holding capacity and improving aeration.  Standard mowers will work, and we suggest to close the side discharge for mowers that have one.  Closing the side discharge will contain leaves in the mower so they get chopped up better before they fall into the grass canopy.  Mulching blades can be purchased as well.

Here are some resources that help to further explain leaf mulching:
WCCO Good Question: Do we really need to rake?
Minnpost: Leaf bagging under scrutiny as a wasteful expense and pointless chore

Q: Is it too late to fertilize my lawn?

A: Yes.  New research on late-fall fertilization demonstrates that a majority of the fertilizer applied in late-fall (late-October or early-November) can be lost to the environment because lawn grasses are not able to absorb fertilizer as well when temperatures are low.  For Twin Cities residents, we suggest to not apply fertilizer past mid-October. Here is more information on this research and our recommendations: Apply lawn fertilizer by mid-October
Upper Midwest Lawn Care Calendar for Cool Season Grasses

Q: What is dormant seeding and when should that be conducted?

A: Dormant seeding is a practice that involves seeding when temperatures are too low for the seed to germinate prior to winter, and it is expected that the seed will germinate in the spring. This can give you a jump on spring seeding.  Germination prior to winter is bad and seedlings will generally die if they haven’t matured. Sometimes it is a bit of a waiting game at this time of year. The trick is to find the time when soils are unfrozen so that seed can be worked in slightly, yet air temperatures must be cold enough so the seed won’t germinate. Wait for high daytime temperatures of 35-40 degrees before seeding.

Q: Is there an advantage to dormant seeding versus spring seeding?

A: Yes and no. A dormant seeded lawn could mature as much as one month faster in the spring than a spring seeded lawn. This is because some of the germination process actually starts prior to winter in a dormant seeded situation, although the shoots still haven’t emerged from the seed. When temperatures are adequate in the spring, complete germination occurs. In this case the seed actually dictates when temperatures are warm enough to grow. Just like late-fall, temperatures and weather patterns can be unpredictable in the spring. For this reason, the best timing for spring seeding is difficult to predict, which can delay the timing to actually sow seed. Still, there some negative aspects of dormant seeding to consider. First, because of the spring temperature fluctuations, it is possible to have good seedling establishment initially, but a cold spell during this time will injure these seedlings. Also, there is a greater potential for seed loss over the winter due to erosion and water movement, predation, and decay. These positive and negative aspects should always be considered during this process. Here is more information on dormant seeding lawns:
Dormant Seeding Lawns: Last chore of the season

Benefits of Recycling Lawn Clippings: A Brief Summary

By Josh Friell, former graduate student, currently with The Toro Company



1) For many cool-season grasses under typical lawn management, total dry clippings production may be in the range of 1-3 g per square meter per day or about 4700 kg per hectare per year.

2) Regardless of growth rate, it is most important to remember that proper mowing practices include not removing more than 1/3 of the above-ground tissue in any one mowing. Removing more than the recommended amount can cause undue stress to the turf plant and stop root growth for as much as six days to two weeks.

3) Returning clippings to turf has been shown to reduce nitrogen fertilizer requirements by approximately 98-294 kg nitrogen per hectare per year – that is, by as much as 75% or more.

4) Disposal of lawn waste accounts for approximately 3% of the total energy expenditures associated with lawn maintenance.

5) Recycling clippings has been shown to increase water infiltration rates by 12% over turf where clippings have been removed.

6) Recycling clippings increased net carbon sequestration by the turfgrass by 11 – 59% over removing clippings.


mainRecycling turfgrass clippings to a lawn after mowing has continually been show to provide several advantages to the turfgrass and the people maintaining it. It is generally suggested that clippings always be recycled, except where: 1) Returning clippings will interfere with the intended use of the turf; 2) The clippings are unusually heavy or excessive clumping of the clippings will occur; or 3) There is significant chance of disease development due the increased tissue present. Often, there are statements found in a variety of literature that claim recycling clippings will lead to excessive thatch accumulation or unsightly brown grass clippings on the surface of the lawn which shade the plants below. Such statements are largely unsubstantiated and the scientific research on the topic has demonstrated significant time, energy, cost, and environmental benefits from clippings recycling, when done properly.

Turfgrass growth rates vary widely among species and are highly dependent on environmental characteristics, management practices, and time of year. However, for many cool-season grasses under typical lawn management, total dry clippings production may be in the range of 1-3 g per square meter per day or about 4700 kg per hectare per year (Hull, 1992; Qian et al. 2003). Regardless of growth rate, it is most important to remember that proper mowing practices include not removing more than 1/3 of the above-ground tissue in any one mowing (Beard, 1973). Removing more than the recommended amount can cause undue stress to the turf plant and stop root growth for as much as six days to two weeks (Crider, 1955).

Allowing the removed tissue to return to the turf, rather than collecting it, has several advantages. For example, returning clippings to turf has been shown to reduce nitrogen fertilizer requirements by approximately 98-294 kg nitrogen per hectare per year – that is, by as much as 75% or more. (Beard and Yoder, 1976; Kopp and Guillard, 2002). This is a result of the fact that on well-fertilized Kentucky bluegrass, for example, between 68-274 kg nitrogen per hectare per year that is contained in the turf tissue may be removed from the turf system if clippings are not returned (Welton and Carroll, 1940; Rieke and Beard, 1974). When clippings are returned to the turf, that nitrogen is slowly released from the senescing plant tissue back into the soil environment. The result is an overall reduction in the total cost of fertilizer as well as the time and energy to apply it.

Calculating the energy expenditures associated with any landscape maintenance activity is a challenging endeavor. There are many inherently subjective decisions involved regarding the number of steps up the supply chain that should be included in the assessment. As such, there is a scarcity of data regarding energy requirements for turfgrass maintenance. One study, however, estimates that disposal of lawn waste accounts for approximately 3% of the total energy expenditures associated with lawn maintenance (Busey and Parker, 1992). While this number is highly dependent on the choices of the turf manager, it demonstrates that significant energy savings may be achieved by simply returning clippings to the turf instead of bagging them for removal.

In today’s world of increasing population and urbanization water use efficiency is of the utmost importance, and practices that help to conserve water are prudent. Ensuring maximum water infiltration into the soil is one important part of proper water management. Doing so minimizes the amount of water that would otherwise be wasted as runoff, and helps keep soil and nutrients from being lost from the lawn into surface waters. Recycling clippings has been shown to increase water infiltration rates by 12% over turf where clippings have been removed (Musser, 1950). This is likely due to improved soil structure resulting from increased soil organic matter (Beard, 1973).

Increasing soil organic matter has other benefits as well. Strong concern over global climate change, coupled with an increased awareness of the need for sustainable soil management, has driven the desire to sequester and retain substantial quantities of carbon in soils under managed turfgrass. It is generally accepted that the average carbon content of grass species is 42.7%, and it follows that returning clippings to the turf will eliminate the excessive removal of carbon from the turfgrass system (Jo and McPherson, 1995). One study found that, not accounting for carbon expenditures associated with management practices, properly managed cool-season turfgrass sequestered between 0.32 – 0.78 Mg carbon per hectare per year when clippings were returned to the turf (Qian et al., 2010). In a subsequent study, it was estimated that recycling clippings increased net carbon sequestration by the turfgrass by 11 – 59% over removing clippings (Qian et al., 2003).

Taken together, the studies above indicate a strong environmental and economic benefit to returning clippings to the turf during mowing operations. Realization of those benefits is dependent on the turf manager adhering to proper mowing, irrigation, and fertilization practices. A turf manager must determine if the required practices fit within his or her maintenance schedule and abilities, and compare the potential for increased time and maintenance against the significant benefits gained by recycling clippings.


Beard, J.B. 1973. Turfgrass: science and culture. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Beard, J.B., and R.L. Yoder. 1976. Clipping disposal investigations with rotary lawn mowers. p. 62–67. In Proc. 46th Annu. Mich. Turf Conf.

Busey, P., and J.H. Parker. 1992. Energy conservation and efficient turfgrass maintenance. p. 473–500. In Waddington, D.V., Carrow, R.N., Shearman, R.C. (eds.), Turfgrass. ASA, Madison, WI.

Crider, F.J. 1955. Root-growth stoppage resulting from defoliation of grass. United States Department of Agriculture. Technical Bulletin 1102.

Hull, R.J. 1992. Energy relations and carbohydrate partitioning in turfgrasses. p. 175–206. In Waddington, D.V., Carrow, R.N., Shearman, R.C. (eds.), Turfgrass. ASA, Madison, WI.

Jo, H.-K., and G.E. McPherson. 1995. Carbon storage and flux in urban residential greenspace. Journal of Environmental Management 45(2): 109–133.

Kopp, K.L., and K. Guillard. 2002. Clipping management and nitrogen fertilization of turfgrass. Crop Science 42(4): 1225–1231.

Musser, H.B. 1950. The use and misuse of water. The Greenskeepers’ Reporter 18(2): 5–9.

Qian, Y., R.F. Follett, and J.M. Kimble. 2010. Soil Organic Carbon Input from Urban Turfgrasses. Soil Science Society of America Journal 74(2): 366.

Qian, Y.L., W. Bandaranayake, W.J. Parton, B. Mecham, M.A. Harivandi, and A.R. Mosier. 2003. Long-term effects of clipping and nitrogen management in turfgrass on soil organic carbon and nitrogen dynamics. Journal of Environmental Quality 32(5): 1694–1700.

Rieke, P. E. and J. B. Beard. 1974. Nutrient removal in the clippings of Poa pratensis L. ‘Common’, Festuca rubra L. ‘Pennlawn’, and Agrostis palustris Huds., ‘Toronto’. Agronomy Abstracts.

Welton, F.A., and J.C. Carroll. 1940. Lawn Experiments. Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station

University of Minnesota golf course could become national model for greener practices

via @StarTribune

A University of Minnesota scientist says many golf courses could be a lot more friendly to the environment if they were engineered to use different turf grasses that require less water and fewer chemicals. Turf grass specialist and Prof. Brian Horgan wants to use 14 years of research to convert the university’s entire Les Bolstad Golf Course to those practices, making it a national model for thousands of other aging courses that need to be renovated.

“This is an area that’s ripe for leadership,” Horgan said, since about one-third of the nation’s 15,000 golf courses need to be renovated in the next few years with updated drainage and irrigation systems and other improvements.

Horgan said some courses, especially in Minnesota and other northern states, might benefit from switching grasses, as well. Most links usually plant bentgrass, Kentucky bluegrass or some of each.

But a different type — fine fescue grasses — typically require less water, less fertilizer, fewer pesticides and less frequent mowings. Horgan and others have been studying different varieties of fescue as part of the “Science of [the] Green” initiative.

“We’re trying to make sure we’re identifying the best way to be better stewards for the environment by utilizing the right grasses and using the right management systems,” he said. Sustainability includes both economic and environmental stewardship.

Golf courses often have about 100 acres of managed turf, including 30 acres of ­fairways and 50 acres of rough, Horgan said.

Fescues also are more easily damaged by golf cart traffic, said Eric Watkins, University of Minnesota associate professor and turf grass breeder, who works with Horgan.

But Watkins said that fine fescues overall seem to “hit the mark” for use in Minnesota, and he and others are studying whether some of the weaknesses can be overcome by mixing fescue varieties, breeding or other strategies.

Watkins said it’s time to increase some of the research and see how alternative grasses behave on a fully ­functioning golf course, such as the Les Bolstad links.

“A lot of golf course superintendents want to see what these grasses look like and play like on real fairways, and how they’re managed on a wider scale,” he said. “Maybe the grasses play a little differently, and we could also learn more about what golfers think.”

Mark Johnson, associate director of environmental programs for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, said that Science of [the] Green and turf grass research at other universities have been important in the past and will be even more significant in the future.

“A golf course is a professionally managed landscape,” he said, “and these are all steps in the right direction as we talk about sustainable operations and proper use of natural resources.”

Ahead of the curve

Johnson said the golf industry is doing its part and is “ahead of the curve” in funding turf grass research and making changes, but in some parts of the country is facing greater regulations on fertilizer use and proposed restrictions on certain pesticides.

Horgan and Watkins will continue to research different properties of fescues and other grasses, and said that no decision has been made yet about whether the Les Bolstad golf course will eventually become a living laboratory for them and others across the country. It also is unclear whether different grass might be used on putting greens and tee boxes, which constitute about 4 acres on a typical golf course.

U regents have included renovation of the Les Bolstad Golf Course in their six-year capital plan, but will need to make more specific decisions. Horgan said the renovation he’s proposing will require full administrative support and private funding.

Adding interest to the potential project is the California drought and water shortages elsewhere, Watkins said. Typically those golf courses use different grasses, he said, but the historically dry conditions are helping golfers, businesses, farmers and the general public to understand the importance of conserving water everywhere.

“It’s certainly affecting the way that people think about how we use water on landscapes, even here in Minnesota,” Watkins said.

Got Rust? Send in a sample

University of Wisconsin Turfgrass Rust ResearchRustPlant

In 2013 the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Sod Producers Association (WSPA) and Sod Growers of Mid America (SGMA), initiated a series of experiments investigating the reasons behind increases in rust injury to cool-season turfgrass observed over the past several years. The project includes 4 primary experiments:

  • Use of molecular and morphological means to identify rust species associated with turfgrass found in sod production, home lawns, athletic fields, and golf course management from around Wisconsin, the Midwest, and the country.
  • Determination of inherent resistance to the multiple rust species in multiple genetic families of Kentucky bluegrass.
  • Inclusion of varying amounts of tall fescue mixed with Kentucky bluegrass and the impact on rust development.
  • Impact of nitrogen source and fungicide timing on rust development.

As part of the rust species identification project, we are looking for rust samples from your turfgrass! It doesn’t matter what species of grass, and it doesn’t matter what type of turf (sod, golf, home lawn). If you see rust on your turf, please submit it to the Turfgrass Diasnotic Lab for identification using the following simple steps:

  • Pick or cut 5 to 10 turfgrass plants affected by rust from the base of the plant near the soil, including both leaves and stem. Roots do not need to be included.
  • Wrap all plants together in aluminum foil, do NOT wrap in moist newspaper or paper towel.
  • Place wrapped plants in a standard business envelope (4.125 X 9.5 inches), include completed Rust ID Submission Form, affix postage, and promptly mail to the Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab at 2502 Highway M, Verona, WI 53593.
  • Please remember to complete and include the Rust ID Submission Form when submitting the sample.
  • Not sure if you have rust present on your lawn? Check out our Rust Disease ID page for more information. Still not sure? Submit it anyways and we’ll identify it regardless.

Perennial Ryegrass Seed Production

by Garett Heineck

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Seeding your lawn this fall? Here are some considerations (Part 2 of 2)

Previously I wrote about the different renovation options for fall seeding of lawns and about the various attributes of cool-season lawn grasses.  This week I wanted to discuss the mixtures and blends of grass seed that are on the consumer marketplace.  If you’ve ever walked into your local big box store or garden center looking for grass seed, the different products available can be fairly intimidating.  To be honest, I often have a difficult time finding the right mixture, because it only takes one bad ingredient to produce a poor quality lawn.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at several categories of grass seed mixtures that are available to you.

Midwest Mixtures, Northern Blends, Sun and Shade Mixtures

Many companies sell seed mixtures under these names.  Generally, these mixtures will contain a large percentage of Kentucky bluegrass, with perennial ryegrass and strong creeping red fescue included.  For existing average quality lawns this is a good mixture of species, and chances are your lawn already has some of these species established.  Perennial ryegrass will be the first species to germinate, generally 3-5 days after planting, and the other species will fill in over a 10-30 day period.  Bluegrass and ryegrass do not perform well in the shade, so creeping red fescue is a great addition to this mix for its shade tolerance.  Below are three examples of these mixtures.

Northern blend

Northern Blend (Performance Seed) seeded July, 2014. Picture taken July, 2015. Seed mixture includes: ‘Blue Angel’ Kentucky bluegrass (9.71%), ‘Kenblue’ Kentucky bluegrass (9.64%), ‘Ginger’ Kentucky bluegrass (9.51%), ‘Stallion’ perennial ryegrass (33.68%), ‘Boreal’ strong creeping red fescue (23.87%), and ‘Gulf’ annual ryegrass (9.69%). Cost = $2.39/lb of seed.

Midwest mixture

Midwest Mix (The Scotts Company) seeded July, 2014. Picture taken July, 2015. Seed mixture includes: ‘Jump Start’ Kentucky bluegrass (9.48%), ‘Right’ Kentucky bluegrass (7.71%), ‘Midnight II” Kentucky bluegrass (3.0%), ‘Wendy Jean’ strong creeping red fescue (8.5%), ‘Treazure II’ Chewing’s fescue (4.87%), ‘Silver Dollar’ perennial ryegrass (7.55%), and ‘Defender’ perennial ryegrass (6.83%). Also includes 50% Super Absorbent Coating. Cost = $10.39/lb of seed.

Sun and Shade

Sun and Shade (Barenburg) seeded July, 2014. Picture taken July, 2015. Seed mixture includes: ‘Baron’ Kentucky bluegrass (13.8%), ‘Barderby’ Kentucky bluegrass (4.59%), ‘Bargita’ perennial ryegrass (19.85%), ‘Barlennium’ perennial ryegrass (14.52%), ‘Tam 90’ annual ryegrass (14.74%), ‘Frazer’ Chewing’s fescue (9.73%), ‘Predator’ hard fescue (7.46%), and ‘Contender’ strong creeping red fescue. Also includes 7.5% Water Saver Seed Coating. Cost = $3.72/lb of seed.

The mixtures above would be consider standard lawn mixtures for Minnesota.  You will notice that two of the mixtures have annual ryegrass included.  Ideally I suggest to choose mixtures without annual ryegrass because it will compete with other grasses during establishment and it will not persist for longer than one year.  However, the inclusion of a small percentage of annual ryegrass in a seed mixture will not cause long lasting issues in lawns.

Dense Shade Mixtures

In a perfect world there would be consistency among species that are included in shade grass mixtures, but this is not the case.  Many companies will label [Read more…]

Seeding your lawn this fall? Here are some considerations (Part 1 of 2)

Lawns in Minnesota take a beating.  This is no surprise due to the extreme weather swings that we have from season to season and even within seasons.  Fortunately this year has been a banner year for lawn care with plenty of rain, mild temperatures and low dew points.  However, the current ten day forecast is setting us up to have some of the highest temperatures we’ve seen this summer, with dew points in the 70’s.  We may have another month of hot weather and then it will be time to seed bare areas in your lawn or conduct lawn renovations.  With that, now is the time to start thinking about seed selection and purchasing.

Depending on the condition of your lawn and your goals going forward, I may recommend one of several renovation options and seed mixtures.  Ideally, this work would be carried out from mid-August to mid-September.  Renovation strategies can be grouped into four categories:

  1. Lawn improvement- conducted when less than 20% weeds or bare soil are present. The goal is to utilize existing grass species and determine the factors leading to poor lawn quality and correct these.  Often, recommended practices for improvement will include aeration, fertility, seeding, and weed control.
  2. Partial renovation- conducted when 20-40% weeds or bare soil are present. This process requires stressing the existing vegetation to reduce the competitive advantage of existing species, while overseeding with new (possibly different) turf species.  Depending on the weeds present, herbicides may or may not be recommended.
  3. Species conversion- conducted when greater than 40% weeds or bare soil are present, but there are no major soil issues. This process requires killing the existing vegetation by the use of non-selective herbicides or solarization (plastic sheet) and overseeding with new turf species.  The species conversion process allows you to change the function of the lawn (ex: low input, no mow, high traffic tolerance) by establishing new species in a short period of time.
  4. Complete renovation- conducted when greater than 40% weeds or bare soil are present, and soil remediation is required. This process is essentially the same as the species conversion except soils will be tilled, graded, and possibly amended with organic matter or nutrients.

For more detailed information about all of these renovation strategies and in-depth detail on how to conduct the species conversion, view this webinar: Lawn Renovation

No matter which renovation strategy you choose, selection of the proper seed will be critical to the long term success of your lawn.  I would generally suggest utilizing a mixture of several turfgrass species to overseed with, but let’s discuss the species individually and next week we’ll look at some mixtures that are available to you.

Mixtures vs. Blends

Mixtures are different from blends.  Blends of grass seed include only one species, for example Kentucky bluegrass, and most blends would have 3-4 different varieties of that species.  Mixtures of grass seed include two or more species and greater genetic diversity.  Mixtures are often utilized for lawns that have differing microclimates (ex: sun and shade).


Leaf texture differences between tall fescue (left), Kentucky bluegrass (center), and fine fescue (right)

Cool Season Species for Minnesota Lawns

Kentucky bluegrass is the most widely used species in Minnesota lawns due to its high aesthetic quality, adaptation and stress tolerance.  If you have an existing lawn, chances are that a good majority of it is Kentucky bluegrass.  Additional benefits of Kentucky bluegrass include its cold tolerance, drought survival through dormancy and high recuperative ability.  However, downfalls with this species include a high water requirement, frequent mowing and high fertility needs.  There is a wide range of genetic diversity in Kentucky bluegrass and Seed Research of Oregon has put together this great classification of the different varieties: Kentucky Bluegrass Classification.

Perennial ryegrass can also be a high quality species, although its poor tolerance to winter and summer stresses make it undesirable in many cases.  Perennial ryegrass is included in many of our Midwest mixtures due to its incredible germination and establishment rate.  If quick establishment is desired, perennial ryegrass can be used, but I would suggest not using more than 25% perennial ryegrass in your seeding mixture.

Fine fescues have been receiving a lot of attention recently because of their ability to survive low maintenance environments.  Fine fescue is a category of about five different species that are often mixed together.  These species include hard fescue, slender and strong creeping red fescue, Chewings fescue, and sheep fescue.  Like perennial ryegrass, the fine fescues germinate very quickly.  Fine fescues are often the best performing species in drought trials and no-mow turf situations.  They are also adapted to shade or full sun.  For more information on fine fescues for lawns have a look at this short video: Fine fescue

Tall fescue is a coarse fescue species that has been gaining popularity due to its shade and traffic tolerance, as well as its ability to avoid drought through an extensive root system.  I find myself recommending tall fescue more and more.  Tall fescue is a bunch type grass and it can be unsightly when overseeded into existing lawns, so I generally recommend using it for new seedings or utility turf areas.  When tall fescue is greater than 75% of a stand it looks very comparable to a Kentucky bluegrass lawn, and it will require less inputs of water and fertilizer.  Tall fescue is also very shade adapted.  For more information on tall fescue have a look at this short video: Tall fescue

For a more detailed explanation of the turf species visit this short video: Grasses for Minnesota Lawns

Next week we will look at the various seed mixtures that are available on the consumer marketplace.  Stay tuned