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18 November 2017

Commonly found grasses

Cultivated or seeded turf is grown on arable land by specialist turf producers. They use mixtures of seed of cultivars of a small number of grasses that have been specially bred for use in turf (as opposed to agricultural grassland).

Perennial ryegrass (Latin name Lolium perenne)

Most turf produced in the UK contains perennial ryegrass. It is included in the seed mixtures to provide a hardwearing turf which is relatively tolerant of drought and salt. Modern ryegrasses are fine-leaved and the turf on the tennis courts at Wimbledon consists mainly of ryegrass. Perennial ryegrass responds well to fertiliser and in order to look attractive in turf, it must have regular fertiliser applications. If it is not well fed, it will not persist in the turfed area after laying and may produce a turf surface with a clumpy appearance.

Red fescue (Latin name Festuca rubra subspecies)

There are several types of red fescue, which are included in most turfgrass seed mixtures. Chewings fescue has the finest leaves of these. The other types are slender creeping red fescue and strong creeping red fescue, both of which have the advantage of producing underground stems (rhizomes), which helps them to repair any damage that may occur. Slender creeping fescue and Chewings fescue are able to tolerate very close mowing, making them suitable for use on bowling and golf greens. Some cultivars of slender creeping red fescue are tolerant of salt.

Smooth-stalked meadow grass (Latin name Poa pratensis)

Smooth-stalked meadow grass (known as Kentucky bluegrass in the USA) produces a turf that is hardwearing and tends to have a very dark green leaf, usually broader than that of the modern perennial ryegrass cultivars. It spreads beneath the turf by means of rhizomes and can use them to recover from drought and damage.

Browntop bent (Latin name Agrostis capillaris or A. castellana)

Browntop bent tends to have a grey-green leaf and also produces rhizomes to strengthen the turf. It is tolerant of very close mowing and is often found in golf and bowling greens.

Annual meadow grass (Latin name Poa annua)

Annual meadow grass is frequently found in lawns and is the most common grass found in golf greens and bowling greens in the UK. Although not often sown as part of the seed mixture, annual meadow grass is frequently found in cultivated turf. It is a very common natural grass in the arable fields commonly used for growing turf and thus occurs as a contaminant, but generally blends in well with the sown grasses. Unlike the above turfgrasses, annual meadow grass can be found in flower throughout the year, which helps to identify it.