What is native creeping bentgrass?

Lawns across the country are becoming infested with this troublesome weed grass. Native creeping bentgrass is a fine bladed grass that has a matted appearance. Many homeowners like this grass type initially because when it is healthy, it does have a very lush green appearance. The challenge quickly becomes maintaining the healthy look. This is a shallow rooted grass that reproduces by sprawling above ground stems. Ideally this type of grass should be kept very short and an example where this works is a golf course putting green. This is not possible in a home lawn as the ideal cutting height for other turf varieties is 6 to 8 cm. As a result of being grown in less than ideal conditions, problems arise which makes it an undesirable lawn.

Why is native creeping bentgrass undesirable?

The main reason bentgrass is considered undesirable in a home lawn is because it requires so much care. Bentgrass is slow to green up in the spring. It requires more fertilizer and water than other grasses. Bentgrass is prone to attack by plant diseases and by nature creates a thick spongy layer of thatch. Bentgrass is very sensitive to warm temperatures and is the first to turn brown in the summer. Due to the fact that it has a shallow root system, it does not have the reserves of water and nutrients to sustain it over periods of drought and can suffer permanent damage under drought conditions.

Can native creeping bentgrass be controlled and prevented?

The best control for bentgrass is to remove the patches. Small amounts of bentgrass can be gradually reduced. Reduction may take a few seasons. In the spring when the bentgrass patches are weak and brown, you should rake and remove the patches. Seed or sod can then be placed in the raked areas. Bentgrass does spread quickly, so it is important to watch for any new patches appearing and repeat the raking and seeding or sodding.

Once the bentgrass has been controlled, the following steps will help in preventing it in the future:

  • Keep the cutting height at 6 to 8 cm
  • Give the lawn deep infrequent watering-at least 2.5 cm per week
  • Regularly fertilize the lawn with a slow release granular fertilizer
  • As soon as you see any new patches of bentgrass appearing rake and seed or sod the area before the bentgrass has a chance to spread

The main purpose of these recommendations is to encourage the desirable turf grass to be thick and healthy as this is the best prevention from bentgrass being able to establish in the lawn. Patience and diligence are essential ingredients in this procedure.