Some golfers may prefer a well-manicured golf course, highly-maintained with very green, very short grass that's easy to play off of. But, according to two recent studies at the University of Illinois, a naturalized landscape that incorporates native grasses benefits biodiversity, saves costs on pesticides and labor for the golf course, and could create a course which is just as challenging for golfers.
Matthew Mechenes, graduate student in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences conducted the studies.
"One benefit of using native plants is that they are perennial. Because they return year to year, there's no need for reseeding or replanting," said Mechenes. "They have fewer insects or disease problems than some exotics, they are more heat and drought resistant because they evolved in Illinois so they are very well adapted to the environment; they attract wildlife for food and forage for many native species; and also they are attractive and colorful."
He stressed that using native grasses is more economical for golf courses. "Establishing natural areas can reduce water consumption, mowing, pesticide use and labor. It doesn't eliminate them all together, but it can reduce them and golf course managers like to save on costs."
Mechenes' research focused on determining the best choice of native grasses to use on roughs -- the areas on either side of the fairway or green that features slightly taller grass. "Many golf courses don't have any natural areas as roughs so we are trying to encourage them to consider incorporating them into the course landscape in order to make the course more challenging, but also to improve the setting by providing a more natural look rather than a highly manicured non-native setting," he said.
The research examined two warm-season perennial grasses which are native to Illinois -- blue grama and the Cody
|Contact: Debra Levey Larson|
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign