Response of retail lawn seed products during acute drought and recovery

Florence Breuillin-Sessoms, Dominic P. Petrella, Daniel Sandor, Samuel J Bauer, Brian P Horgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Consumers often have multiple choices when purchasing retail lawn products in stores. In this study, we evaluated the acute drought performance of locally available retail lawn seed products (mixtures or blends) at two mowing heights of 2.5 and 3 inches. We hypothesized that the species present in the products and the height-of-cut differentially influence the drought resistance and recovery of the mixtures and blends. In Fall 2016 and 2017, 28 different products consisting of 25 mixtures and 3 blends of turfgrass seeds were established under a fully automated rainout shelter at the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota. The drought treatments lasted for 67 days in 2017, and 52 days in 2018; both the 2017 and 2018 treatments were followed by a recovery period. Data were obtained during acute drought treatments and recovery periods for visual turfgrass quality and green turfgrass cover using digital images of the plots. During the first year, several products displayed higher green stability (or the ability to remain green) at the 3-inch height-of-cut compared with the 2.5-inch height-of-cut. Products with tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus) and fine fescue (Festuca sp.) as dominant species generally performed better during the drought treatments, whereas an increasing presence of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) and kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) decreased the visual drought performance of the products. During the recovery period, an effect of the interaction between mowing height and the date of data collection on the percentage of green cover was observed: the lower mowing height improved the early recovery of green cover after acute drought. These findings suggest that consumers in the upper midwestern United States and areas with a climate similar climate to that of St. Paul, MN, who are challenged with multiple choices of lawn seed products should choose products containing a higher tall fescue content and adjust their mowing heights to optimize recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-457
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
4Michigan State University, Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, 1066 Bogue Street, East Lansing, MI 48824 This research project was funded by the Metropolitan Council and the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, American Society for Horticultural Science. All rights reserved.


  • Fine fescue
  • Green cover
  • Green stability
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Mowing height
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Recovery
  • Tall fescue


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