Turfgrass is mown vegetation of grasses, plants in the Poaceae family, part of humanity’s cultural and biological landscape. Turf gives people and other animals healthy outdoor surfaces to move around, cleans and recharges groundwater, develops and conserves soil, and sequesters carbon. Grassy meadows remind us people of our intimate connection to a natural heritage and give our communities sense of place.
Kinds of turfgrasses are warm- and cool-season grasses, family Poaceae, mostly perennial and sod-forming. Examples are Kentucky bluegrass, Poa pratensis and common bermudagrass, Cynodon dactylon. Some bunchgrass turf species, such as perennial ryegrass, Lolium perenne, are planted as seed at high rates. Hundreds of turf cultivars or trade names, e.g., ‘Merion’ Kentucky bluegrass and ‘Tifway’ or ‘419’ bermudagrass, are tailored and discovered as genetic improvements. Improvements are increased shoot density, wear tolerance, resistance to environmental and biotic stress, and growth characteristics for use as turf. Cultivars of the same species are mixed as blends and different species are planted together as mixtures. Propagation and establishment of turfgrass is done by seed, sprigs, plugs, and sod depending on species and requirements.
Primary cultural practices of turfgrass are mowing, irrigation, and fertilization. Other practices are used in managing turfgrass ecosystems. Management makes grass communities more genetically diverse or can encourage monocultures. Grass genetics and environment including management determine the suitability of turfgrass for the intended purposes in the landscape.
Environment is the surrounding natural conditions. Environment is soils and climate, tree shade, wind, and salt spray, and the interaction of the turf ecosystem with people and other animals that traffic the landscape. As environmental stewards, turfgrass managers guide lawns and landscapes in earth’s energy flow and biogeochemical cycles. Golf courses and sod farms serve as wildlife sanctuaries. Ecotones between forest and grassland are rich areas of wildlife activity. The cultural landscape of turfgrass is part of human daily life.
Turf culture developed from hand shearing to include labor-saving tools of industrial societies. Many types of businesses and jobs support turfgrass. Associations and institutions are involved including sports franchises, public and private universities, trade groups, and manufacturers.