Testing the establishment of eight forbs in mowed lawns of hard fescue (Festuca brevipila) for use in pollinator conservation

Ian G. Lane, James Wolfin, Eric Watkins, Marla Spivak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Public concern for the conservation of pollinating insect communities, such as bees, has created demand formore 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) Hulten, 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2150-2155
Number of pages6
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Received for publication 8 July 2019. Accepted for publication 22 Sept. 2019. This work was conducted with support from the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund administrated by the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources. We thank Andrew Hollman and Craig Krueger for their assistance in site preparation, establishment, and maintenance. We also thank Garett Heineck, Jason Ostergaard, and Jon-athon Tetlie for their assistance in data collection. I.G.L. is the corresponding author. E-mail: lanex173@ umn.edu.


  • Bee lawn
  • Flowering lawn
  • Reconciliation ecology
  • Urban diversity


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