Grasses not Generally Suited to Home Lawns in Minnesota
Annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) has been widely used as a temporary grass in lawn mixtures (Fig. 4.26). It is short-lived and not recommended for lawn use since the plants will all die during the winter. Where a temporary cover is needed during the growing season, such as in areas used as ice rinks, this may be a suitable, cost effective choice.
Figure 4.26. Annual ryegrass color and texture.
Creeping bentgrass (Agrostis palustris) adapted for golf course use and requires a great deal of care (Fig. 4.27). Since it can be mowed down to less than 1/4 of an inch, it is ideal for golf greens (Fig. 4.28).
Figure 4.27. Mowing height of creeping bentgrass – ¼” or less.
Figure 4.28. Mowing height of creeping bentgrass (left) compared to Kentucky bluegrass (right).
However, creeping bentgrass requires too much maintenance to be considered acceptable or practical for home lawn situations although there is the rare exception as seen in Fig. 4.29.
Figure 4.29.Creeping bentgrass home lawn.
Due to its stoloniferous growth habit (Fig. 4.30), bentgrass patches invading Kentucky bluegrass lawns (Fig. 4.31) are a major weed problem in the northern United States.
Figure 4.30. Creeping bentgrass spreads by stolons.
Figure 4.31. Creeping bentgrass invading Kentucky bluegrass.
Zoysia grass is a warm season grass commonly advertised for use in this area. While the species Zoysia japonica and Zoysia matrella will often survive our winters, its warm season growth habit (Fig. 4.32) doesn't allow it to turn green until the warm temperatures of late spring to early summer. It again turns brown with first cool weather of late August to early September. Also, without sufficient water during the growing season it remains rather brown during the growing season as well. It is also very slow to establish a lawn due to the relatively short and often cool summer conditions.
Figure 4.32. Zoysia lawn (background) and density of rhizome structure (foreground).
Figure 4.33. Rhizome growth habit of Zoysia grass.
Buffalograss (Büchloe dactyloides) is a very drought tolerant, warm season grass native to many of the short-grass prairies of the Great Plains. It is a very low-maintenance turfgrass, growing only 6 to 8 inches high (Fig. 4.34).
Figure 4.34. Unmowed growth habit and texture of Buffalograss at Iowa State University evaluation trials.
There is considerable research being done to evaluate its use in areas with more humid growing conditions where it is very difficult to establish and often short lived. It could be considered an alternative grass in west central to southwest Minnesota. Again, through continued evaluation and research it is likely that its range of successful adaptation and use will be expanded (Fig. 4.35).
Figure 4.35. Closer view of buffalograss cultivars and species at Iowa State University.