What Makes a Good Quality Turfgrass?
Many factors are important in determining quality turfgrass. Dark green color is considered by many to be desirable, along with good density and fine leaf texture. In general, people seem to desire a carpet-like feel and appearance to their lawn. However, since beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, what is pleasing to one person may be unattractive to another.
In addition, there are many other characteristics that influence or add to turfgrass quality. Some of these would be resistance to damage from disease or insects, tolerance of heat, cold or drought and adaptability to shade, infertile soil or very low mowing. Under harsh conditions, such as a highway median strip or heavily-used soccer field, the basic survival of turfgrass is often the most important consideration.
How are Turfgrasses Compared and Evaluated?
With over 600 turfgrasses currently available for purchase in the U.S. and several hundred more in various stages of development, how does one decide which turfgrass to buy?
In the past, university turfgrass researchers obtained grasses from seed companies, planted these grasses at their research location and collected data on various characteristics of these grasses. Unfortunately, these tests were seldom coordinated with tests conducted at other universities and therefore, were not as useful. The National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) was established in 1980 to coordinate the evaluation across the United States and Canada. The NTEP is a sponsored program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Turfgrass Federation, Inc. Since its inception, the NTEP has collected information on over 50 turfgrass characteristics from over 1,000 different turfgrasses. This information is updated and released annually.