Performance Testing of Regional Roadside Turfgrass

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Status:  Complete
Report Date:  09/19/2019


Turfgrasses planted along roadways are often difficult to establish due to stressors such as heat, drought and salt from winter maintenance. MnDOT sought to test a wide range of turfgrass cultivars across five cold climate states over several growing seasons. Researchers planted and assessed 50 individual turfgrass cultivars and 10 seed mixes in both rural and urban roadside plots in Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey and Wisconsin. They assessed the performance of grasses several times a year, from fall 2016 through spring 2018, documenting species and mix performance using a grid inspection method. Researchers found that site stressors were not as influential to performance differences as genetic variety. Fine fescues and alkaligrass tolerated salt better than other species, as did mixes with higher percentages of alkaligrass. Data were recorded in a comprehensive website available to public agencies. Further research examining more species across more states would allow for a large compendium of data that would be useful to agencies in cold climate states seeking resilient turfgrass choices.

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