Turfgrass is mown vegetation of grasses, plants in the Poaceae family, a major part of humanity’s cultural 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 of our connection to a natural heritage and give our communities a sense of place.
Kinds of turfgrasses are warm- and cool-season grass species, mostly perennial and sod-forming, such as 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, have been tailored and discovered as genetic improvements with greater density, wear tolerance, resistance to stress and pests, and growth characteristics good for use as turf. Cultivars of the same species are mixed as blends, and rarely 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. Many other practices go into managing turfgrass ecosystems. Management can make grass communities more genetically diverse or can cause monocultures. Grass genetics, management, and environment determine the success and suitability, or failure, of turfgrasses for the intended uses in the landscape.
Environment is the surrounding natural conditions such as 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 realize the kkrole of lawns and landscapes as part of the world’s energy flow and biogeochemical cycling. Golf courses serve as wildlife sanctuaries.
Turf culture developed from hand shearing through labor-saving tools of industrial societies. Many types of business and jobs support turfgrass. There are many associations and institutions involved including sports franchises, public and private universities, trade groups, and manufacturers.