Audio Blog: TTTF, PR, and KBG
In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll look at three popular turfgrass species.
Turf-type tall fescue (TTTF) is a popular grass for lawns, sports fields, and golf courses. It is in the Festuca arundinacea species but has improved traits. Tall fescue is known for having coarse leaves, but the turf-type variety has been bred to have finer blades. It also has a dark green color that’s visually appealing to homeowners, athletic facilities, and golf course superintendents alike.
TTTF is usually considered a bunch-type grass but can have rhizomes. Its bunchy nature can prevent it from filling in bare areas, which can leave room for weeds to grow in those areas instead. For this reason, TTTF is sometimes blended with other grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass or perennial ryegrass. We have several options: Advanced Athletic Tuff Mix (80% TTTF, 10% Kentucky Bluegrass, 10% Perennial Ryegrass), Advanced TTTF Plus (90% TTTF, 10% Kentucky Bluegrass), and Advanced RTF with HGT (95% Rhizamous Tall Fescue, 5% HGT Kentucky Bluegrass) blended specifically for areas where more density is required.
TTTF is considered a “middle ground” between Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass. It germinates at soil temperatures of 60°F, the same as perennial ryegrass. However, it germinates slightly slower than perennial ryegrass. Compared to Kentucky bluegrass, TTTF germinates and grows faster—meaning it also requires more mowing. Like Kentucky bluegrass, though, TTTF seedlings have good traffic tolerance.
TTTF is known for its extensive root system, which can grow as deep as three feet. This is much deeper than other cool-season grasses and allows TTTF to “find” more water in the soil, meaning it can tolerate clay and sandy soil conditions. At the same time, TTTF can also tolerate wet soils.
TTTF is a cool-season grass, but it is also well-adapted to warmer climates. It is especially valuable in the transition zone, where warm-season grasses can struggle with seasonally cool temperatures and lack of sunlight. TTTF has better shade tolerance than other common cool-season grasses, except fine fescues.
TTTF is also more tolerant of heat than other cool-season grasses. Some species of grass struggle with the warm end of the temperature spectrum in transition areas, but TTTF is well-adapted to heat and sun. With proper irrigation, it can even tolerate full-sun conditions.
The water-seeking root system of TTTF makes it more resistant to drought as well. While Kentucky bluegrass is likely to go into dormancy during summer drought, TTTF can remain green through the season. Its low irrigation needs make it a good low-maintenance option for homeowners and busy turf managers.
Our Advanced TTTF products are selected particularly for their drought tolerance, and many of the products are Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance (TWCA) Qualified, meaning they are proven to need 40% less water than typical TTTF varieties to maintain healthy growth and dark green color. TTTF also has low fertilizer needs, reducing input costs all around. Keep in mind that it does still require more mowing than Kentucky bluegrass due to its faster growth.
Advanced TTTF, Advanced RTF, and Advanced RTF with HGT products are also available coated with Foliar-Pak XCD, a protective coating that holds moisture and helps the seed survive in hot, dry conditions during germination and establishment.
Perennial ryegrass is a cool-season grass that’s popular in Northern geographies as a permanent turf and for overseeding in the South. It is useful for lawns, athletic fields, and golf courses. The perennial ryegrass species Lolium perenne is a bunch-type grass without rhizomes.
Perennial ryegrass has smooth leaves, which help distinguish it from turf-type tall fescue. It germinates at the same time as TTTF (soil temperatures of 60°F) but germinates more quickly, at just five to 10 days.
Perennial ryegrass doesn’t have a high heat tolerance and may go dormant during periods of prolonged heat. It is more tolerant of cold temperatures, although extreme cold can also do damage. Overall, perennial ryegrass thrives in moderate climates. It tends to have poor drought and shade tolerance, doing best with consistent irrigation and sunny conditions.
Perennial ryegrass has strong traffic resistance. Its durability makes it ideal for athletic fields and golf courses. In fact, the grass courts at Wimbledon are 100% perennial ryegrass because of the wear tolerance it provides. Perennial ryegrass is also known for having good resistance to diseases such as dollar spot and is not susceptible to summer patch.
Another benefit of perennial ryegrass is that it is well-adapted to low mowing heights, thriving at a height between one and two inches and surviving well at heights down to a half-inch or below if highly maintained in places such as Wimbledon. This quality makes perennial ryegrass useful for overseeding golf course greens, fairways, and tees. On sports fields and lawns, it requires diligence to keep perennial ryegrass at its ideal height so it can produce the best results.
Overall, perennial ryegrass has a reputation for being high-maintenance because of the growing conditions it prefers. It requires higher nitrogen inputs than other grasses, which then encourages more growth and more mowing to keep it at the short height it likes.
As mentioned above, perennial ryegrass is a good choice for overseeding lawns and golf courses in warmer climates. Often overseeded in bermudagrass stands, perennial ryegrass can provide a vibrant green color through the winter while the bermudagrass is dormant. In cooler climates, perennial ryegrass is a popular choice to blend with bluegrass on athletic fields.
We carry a variety of perennial ryegrass seed options, including mixtures with Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue. One popular straight perennial ryegrass item is Advanced RPR, a seed blend containing a new turf perennial ryegrass subspecies, Lolium perenne ssp. Stoloniferum. This unique subspecies has a spreading growth habit that makes its traffic tolerance and recovery even stronger than other perennial ryegrasses.
Another option we offer is Advanced GLR perennial ryegrass, which is a blend of disease-resistant and drought-tolerant ryegrass varieties. Advanced GLR displays a very dark green color and density at variable mowing heights, and it’s good for overseeding or permanent stands of turf. It’s also coated with Foliar-Pak XCD for maximum germination and establishment.
Perhaps the best-known turfgrass species, Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) is popular for lawns, golf courses, and sports fields. As its name suggests, Kentucky bluegrass has a blue-green color that contributes to its appeal. It’s also known for its lush, fine to medium texture that makes it comfortable for bare feet and athletes alike.
Kentucky bluegrass isn’t just a pretty face, though. It also has strong traffic tolerance and the ability to repair itself quickly. This is due to its aggressive rhizomatous growth habit, which spreads underground roots and forms dense, thick turf. These rhizomes help Kentucky bluegrass fill in damaged spots with ease.
One caveat to the strength of Kentucky bluegrass is that it takes a while to mature. This species is notoriously slow to germinate, and its seedlings are not traffic tolerant like the mature plants are. Kentucky bluegrass has one of the longest germination times, at 14 to 30 days. Despite its slow germination time, though, this species does germinate well from seed. Germination generally occurs at soil temperatures between 50°F and 65°F.
Because of its slow germination and fragile seedlings, Kentucky bluegrass will establish best when planted during periods of light traffic. Fall and dormant winter seedings are the best approaches for this species because it needs plenty of time to establish before intense summer temperatures and traffic. As a cool-season grass, Kentucky bluegrass grows the most in the spring and fall when temperatures are lower.
Of the common cool-season grasses in the US, Kentucky bluegrass has the best cold tolerance. This makes it a good choice for Northern areas with harsher winters. Conversely, Kentucky bluegrass has a low heat tolerance. It can go dormant during intense heat and drought conditions in the summer. However, it recovers well from summer dormancy in the same way that it recovers from traffic stress.
In terms of maintenance, Kentucky bluegrass is more needy than turf-type tall fescue and perennial ryegrass. Although it has extensive rhizomatous roots, they are relatively shallow. For this reason, it requires high levels of irrigation, especially during the summer months, to maintain a green color. Deep and infrequent irrigation helps encourage Kentucky bluegrass roots to grow deeper.
Kentucky bluegrass actually prefers sun to shade, although it can tolerate shade as well. It tolerates shade best in conjunction with ample irrigation. At the same time, some Kentucky bluegrass cultivars are adapted to drought and can handle low irrigation as long as they have plenty of sunlight.
We carry a variety of Kentucky bluegrass seed options, including blends with perennial ryegrass. Advanced HGT and 365ss are two that perform well in the NTEP trial after trial. Advanced HGT is a hearty bluegrass seed blend that is easy to grow, fast to establish, and resistant to disease. 365ss, unlike most Kentucky bluegrass, germinates and establishes quickly. If drought tolerance is the largest consideration, TWCA Kentucky Bluegrass is a fantastic option. The grasses in this blend are proven to need up to 40% less water than a typical bluegrass. They will stay greener longer without water and will bounce back quickly at the end of a drought. All of these are available coated with Foliar-Pak XCD for maximum seedling growth and plant health.
Contact your sales rep for help selecting the right seed for your situation, and browse all of our seed options here.