En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - June 14, 2009

From: Grand Haven, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Turf
Title: Native grasses for lawn in Michigan
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I want to plant a lawn of grasses that are native to Michigan specifically. My soil is a little sandy in some spots and is moderately moist. I have been researching on the internet and I *think* that I am looking for a short, cool season grass. I would like to plant a few different grasses, clover, etc. to maintain a decent biodiversity. I am from Indiana and grew up surrounded by bentgrass which I've read is not native. I really love the softness of it though. I've been told june grass is nice. I plan to mow so height isn't an issue.

ANSWER:

There are three common bentgrasses used for lawns.  All three of these are introduced non-natives, but all are grown in Michigan:  Agrostis stolonifera (creeping bentgrass) is the grass commonly seen on golf courses; Agrostis capillaris (colonial bentgrass) and Agrostis canina (velvet bentgrass) are other commonly used bent grasses for lawns and golf courses.  You can see the distributional range of A. stolonifera, A. capillaris, and A. canina on the USDA Agricultural Research Service Germlasm Information Network (ARS-GRIN) pages.

There are actually three native species of grass with the common name of 'bentgrass' that grow in Michigan.  They are: 

Agrostis hyemalis (winter bentgrass) and here are photos from Oklahoma University.

Agrostis perennans (upland bentgrass) and photos from Illinois Wildflowers

Agrostis scabra (rough bentgrass) and photos from University of California Photos (CalPhotos).

Agrostis gigantea (redtop) is another Agrostis species native to Michigan, although it doesn't have 'bentgrass' in its common name.  Here are photos from Illinois Wildflowers.

You can visit our Recommended Species page and choose Michigan from the map or pull-down menu to find a list of over 150 commercially available plants native to the state that are recommended for landscaping.  you can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option and choose 'Grass/Grass-like' under General Appearance to limit the result to 14 grasses and grass-like plants.  One of those grasses is Koeleria macrantha (prairie Junegrass).

Others on that list that would be a good grass for your lawn are Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem), Bromus kalmii (arctic brome), Pascopyrum smithii (western wheatgrass), Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye) and Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass).

You can see photos of many of these, plus other native prairie grasses, on the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve page of prairie grasses.


Koeleria macrantha

Schizachyrium scoparium

Bromus kalmii

Pascopyrum smithii

Elymus canadensis

Sorghastrum nutans

 


 

 

More Turf Questions

Clover for possible lawn area in The Woodlands, TX
October 01, 2008 - I have two areas in my large lawn that grass refuses to grow. I am thinking of seeding with clover which old lawns used to always have. Which clover will grow in this area? Where do I find seeds an...
view the full question and answer

Looking for a native turf grass for the Houston area
July 25, 2013 - Looking for a native turf grass for the Houston area. In some of your 2012 responses, you stated that "The good news is that research into turf-type grasses native to the coastal region is in the pla...
view the full question and answer

Small perennials & grasses for a naturalized lawn
October 26, 2009 - I am looking for native perennials and grasses that will grow no more than 8 inches tall that can be used in a naturalized lawn in Michigan. What 5 plants would be your first choice?
view the full question and answer

Native Grass Lawn For Georgia
January 20, 2015 - Grass in Atlanta when I was little (I am 50 years old and have lived in Atlanta most of my life) was of a fescue variety. Bermuda grasses were considered "rich person's grass" when I was young. M...
view the full question and answer

Questions about Habiturf
April 01, 2012 - What does habiturf look like when it first emerges? Could you post some images? And how long will it take to begin to cover?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center