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  • Author or Editor: Marla Spivak x
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Lawns represent one of the largest cultivated areas in urban landscapes, and in the Upper Midwest of the United States, lawns are typically composed of a small number of cool-season turfgrass species. There is increased interest in enhancing areas dedicated to lawns using flowering species for conservation purposes—for example, to support pollinators. In this study we used a model flowering forb, Kura clover (Trifolium ambiguum M. Bieb.), because—like many flowering species of conservation interest—it is slow to establish and is sensitive to grass competition. We varied the Kura clover seeding rate into four different turfgrass species treatments: kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.), hard fescue (Festuca brevipila Tracy), tall fescue [Schedonorus arundinaceum (Schreb.) Darbysh.], and perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) in two separate trials. Establishment and bloom of Kura clover was significantly greater in trial 1 for kentucky bluegrass and hard fescue than tall fescue and perennial ryegrass. In trial 2, Kura clover established significantly greater in kentucky bluegrass compared with tall fescue and perennial ryegrass, whereas Kura establishment in hard fescue was not significantly different from the other treatments. The seeding rate of Kura clover did not affect establishment in either trial. The results from this study suggest kentucky bluegrass and hard fescue are promising turf companion grasses for future forb/turf interseeding research.

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Public concern for the conservation of pollinating insect communities, such as bees, has created demand for more florally diverse landscapes. In urban environments, lawns form a large portion of cultivated land, and are typically managed to exclude flowering species richness. In this study, we investigated the establishment of eight flowering plants with pollinator value (plants that provide floral nectar and pollen for visiting insects) when coseeded with the turfgrass hard fescue (Festuca brevipila Tracey). The study was established as a dormant seeding at two locations in central Minnesota with substantially different soil types. Plots were maintained at either a 6- or 9-cm mowing height. We monitored these plantings over the 2014, 2015, and 2016 growing seasons for vegetative establishment and flowering of planted forbs. Of the eight forbs tested, Trifolium repens L., Prunella vulgaris ssp. lanceolata (W. Bartram) Hultén, Thymus serpyllum auct. non L., and Astragalus crassicarpus Nutt. established in at least one location. Mowing height did not affect vegetative establishment, but had a negative effect on the number of blooms produced by P. vulgaris ssp. lanceolata. Vegetative establishment was affected by location, with P. vulgaris ssp. lanceolata establishing in higher abundance in the moist loamy site, whereas T. serpyllum and A. crassicarpus established in higher abundance at the dry sandy site. This study represents an important first step in identifying appropriate plants and management practices for improving lawns as a resource for pollinators.

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