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Monday, September 22, 2014

How can we make lawns more environmentally friendly?

Back off the road.  Great trip out to Nova Scotia.  Lots to report this week.

Great, positive changes to think about in lawn care as we enter a very busy landscape season:

Many homeowners strive to have the picture-perfect green lawn. But how can that be achieved in an environment where water in parts of the country is becoming scarce and the use of pesticides and fertilizer is being discouraged?

Researchers from two Big Ten universities hope that they will be able to find an answer. Scientists from Rutgers University and the University of Minnesota, both members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation — an academic consortium of Big Ten universities — will be working together over the next five years to develop an environmentally friendly grass that is more resistant to disease and drought and a better economical choice for homeowners.
The scientists have received a $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to find a way to make fine fescue, a highly drought-tolerant grass native to Europe and used throughout the world in grazing pastures, ornamental landscaping and home lawns less susceptible to disease and wear.
"We're trying to make the low-maintenance grass less vulnerable to disease and more wear-tolerant for homeowners' lawns," said Austin Grimshaw, a research technician at the Center for Turfgrass Science in Rutgers' New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, who is working with colleagues Stacy Bonos and William Meyer on researching fine fescue.
"Tall fescue is very common on lawns," said Bonos, an associate professor of plant biology and pathology in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. "Tall fescue uses more water than fine fescue, and it requires more fertilizer to maintain green color. Fine fescues maintain density and stay green with almost no water or fertilizer."
Besides making fine fescue tougher and less dependent on fungicides and fertilizers, better for the environment and more economical for homeowners, Bonos said researchers also need to gain a better understanding of what homeowners and groundskeepers want in a lawn and how best to market the grass.
Teenage boy mowing grass image via Shutterstock.
Read more at Rutgers University.

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