News Brief

Research Finds Multi-Species, Native Lawns Require Less Maintenance

Bermudagrass (left) is a non-native grass with “tree-like” growth requiring frequent mowing to maintain density. Buffalograss (right), a native species, maintains density with less mowing, because the stalks don’t branch; it also grows more slowly.

Photos: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Univ. of Texas–Austin

Researchers at the University of Texas–Austin have found that multi-species lawns of native grasses require fewer inputs—such as watering and mowing—than traditional monocultures to maintain a lush, weed-resistant lawn. Researchers, led by Mark Simmons, Ph.D., director of the center’s Ecosystem Design Group, compared one native and one non-native monoculture, and one native and one non-native polyculture using various irrigation, traffic, and mowing regimes. Native lawns needed less mowing and had 30% higher leaf density in spring and 20% in summer (when all grass species thin). Native varieties kept weeds out better than non-native, with 50% lower weed density. Researchers didn’t find a difference when the species were subjected to traffic and irrigation variations. The study, published in the Ecological Engineering journal, focused on turf grasses commonly used in the south; more research is needed to identify regionally appropriate grasses.

 

Published June 1, 2011

Add new comment

To post a comment, you need to register for a BuildingGreen Basic membership (free) or login to your existing profile.