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Monday, October 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington Voices

Short bluegrass cuts down on mowing

Jacklin Seed of Post Falls has just released a new variety of bluegrass turf called My Holiday Lawn that matures at a much shorter height than conventional bluegrass and therefore needs mowing about once a month.

Since 1936, Jacklin has grown turf and lawn seed here in the Inland Northwest to supply the world with lawns, sports field and golf greens, including the majority of the turf for China’s fast-growing golf industry. The question the company’s research staff was always asked by turf managers: “Can you get a turf that doesn’t need to be mowed so often?”

There are hundreds of grass varieties on the market. Plant breeders develop them just as they do new varieties of vegetables or perennials. It takes time and patience and a little bit of luck to come up with a new variety and My Holiday Lawn is no different.

Jacklin’s researchers tried several times to develop a short-stature bluegrass, but not until 2002 did they begin to find the right combination. That year director of research Doug Brede gathered up all the dwarf mutants of bluegrass he could find at the time, a total of 40. The first round was dismal as the grasses looked terrible with infrequent mowing. Brede expanded his trials using varieties found in aging turf trial plots that were about to be plowed under. During this round he was able to grow 10,000 test plots instead of the original 40 and hit pay dirt.

“Out of 10,000 plots, there were a handful “that were get down on your hands and knees beautiful,” he said.

Out of this small group. Brede and his team began refining the varieties down to three. They test grew them in their Post Falls facility and in Ohio and on the East Coast to test for vitality and disease resistance in different weather and growing conditions. The whole process took 14 years from the first research plots to getting the new grass on the market.

Planting a My Holiday Lawn will mean changing some lawn maintenance habits. Because it doesn’t grow tall, weeds can grow taller in between mowings and will need to be controlled well. It will also be important to maintain a pure stand of it as other varieties of grass will grow taller and ruin the low-mow characteristic.

My Holiday Lawn is available as seed at Gibson’s Nursery, 1401 S. Pines Road, in Spokane Valley. If you try it, let me know what you think.

Master Gardener and author Pat Muntscan be reached at pat@ inlandnwgardening.com.

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