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Kari L. Hugie and Eric Watkins

In Minnesota, most lawns and higher cut turfgrass areas consist primarily of species such as kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) and perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) that require significant management inputs such as frequent mowing and nitrogen fertility. Several studies have shown that other species have the potential to be used more widely on home lawns in Minnesota; however, little is known about the management requirements of these species. In this study, we evaluated the performance of several alternative grass species under varying mowing and nitrogen fertility regimes at two sites in Minnesota in 2010 and 2011. Hard fescue [Festuca trachyphylla (Hackel) Krajina] showed the most consistent performance across management regimes, seasons, and locations. Colonial bentgrass (Agrostis tenuis Sibth.) showed good spring and fall turf quality, but suffered from excess thatch development and disease incidence. ‘Barkoel’ prairie junegrass [Koeleria macrantha (Ledeb.) Schult] maintained acceptable turf cover throughout the trial, whereas unimproved native prairie junegrass populations did poorly regardless of management level. Tufted hairgrass [Deschampsia cespitosa (L.) P. Beauv.] did not perform consistently in the trial due to summer stress. Our results show that hard fescue, colonial bentgrass, and ‘Barkoel’ prairie junegrass performed well regardless of mowing height or fertility treatment and could be used to a greater degree as low-input turfgrasses in Minnesota.

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Kari Hugie, Chengyan Yue and Eric Watkins

Traditional turfgrasses found in residential lawns provide a functional and aesthetically pleasing landscape if provided adequate resource inputs, yet, as available natural resources become more limited and public concerns grow stronger about the ecological effects of urban turfgrass management, it becomes increasingly important to pursue alternative landscape options. There are non-traditional turfgrasses that require fewer resource inputs that could be made available to homeowners. The objective of this study was to estimate consumer preferences and the relative importance of aesthetic and maintenance attributes of turfgrasses as well as identify potential market segments of the residential turfgrass market. Conjoint analysis was conducted on survey responses of 116 Minnesota homeowners. The results indicated that maintenance attributes of turfgrasses, specifically irrigation requirement, significantly affected consumer purchasing behavior. The analysis also identified four potential market segments, the Price Conscious segment, the Shade Adaptation segment, the Mowing Conscious segment, and the Water Conscious segment.