Bentgrass: What is Creeping Bentgrass?

Introduction to Bentgrass as a Lawn

Bentgrass is a cool-season perennial grass with aggressive stolons. It produces a highly playable surface ideal for bowling greens.

It is one of a few types of grass the can survive very low mowing (down to 0.2-inches) and heavy foot traffic.

Creeping Bentgrass, a cool-season turf, thrives in moist, cool conditions and spreads rapidly in the spring.

When it warms up in Summer, it typically turns brown and appears dead. In a mixed grasses lawn, having dead patches could present as a disease.

Additionally, while the Bentgrass is dormant, annual weeds have an opportunity to take over.

General Use of Bentgrass

General-Use-Of-Bentgrass-As-A-Lawn

Bentgrass has long been associated with golf, and the demand for improved playing lawn surfaces fueled intensive breeding programs.

Cultivar development seeks to address three issues: summer heat tolerance, lawn quality, and resistance to annual bluegrass invasion.

Bentgrass is less common on Pacific Northwest courses. Though it is rarely planted in lawns, it has naturalized in much of the area west of the Cascade Mountains.

It is one of the climax species found in lawns throughout the south with cooler nighttime temperatures.

It is considered a weed in lawns east of the Cascades where it has naturalized. Bentgrasses plants tolerate cold temperatures but flounder in high temperatures, especially in the summer months.

Special Uses of Bentgrass

Special-Uses-Of-Bentgrass

Bentgrass was frequently associated with lawns in the northern states, while bermudagrass was associated with lawns in the south.

However, over the last 30 years, breeding programs have resulted in the development of bentgrass varieties that are more tolerant of warmer temperatures (relative to previous strains).

The prestigious Augusta National Golf Club switched from Bermuda grass to Bentgrass in 1981. The club took extraordinary measures to make this possible.

Installing under-green chilled water pipes ensured this cool-season grass would do well in the warm Richmond-Augusta County, Georgia in the south.

How to Care for Bentgrass Lawns

Certain Bentgrass grasses produce aggressive, vigorous, and wear-resistant perennial creeping turf grass that has long been the most specified, widely used, and trusted putting green grass in the world.

Initially criticized for being excessively vigorous and challenging to manage, reducing watering and fertilizer makes it easier to manage.

Early spring is the best time to spread fertilizer on bentgrass.

A Bentgrass lawn can be challenging to maintain, requiring close to daily mowing for golf-course-style manicured lawns.

Along with intensive mowing, the lawn soil area must be adequately established and provide adequate “breathing” space for this grass (sand is often used).

Before planting, usually by seeds, homeowners should thoroughly research the care required for this turfgrass and the soil, air, and drainage requirements for this lawn to grow.

Development History of Bentgrass

The development of the C-series bentgrasses began with select strains of South German mixed Bentgrass.

These vegetative strains were for many years the best source for growing bentgrass that required very low mowing.

Older Species

From the 1920s to 1955, Seaside creeping Bentgrass was the only seed propagated creeping Bentgrass available until Penncross was introduced.

A saline tolerant strain, Seaside Bentgrass, was never fully adopted. From 1955 to 1965 (and still today) Penncross is a preferred cultivar.

In 1965, Emerald seed was introduced, cultivated from Congressional Bentgrass from Europe.

Emerald is a lovely grass that is almost apple green in color, highly leafy, and spreads rapidly.

It performs poorly in areas west of the Cascades and is prone to annual bluegrass invasion. Some golf courses use it as a nurse grass to convert greens to annual bluegrass grasses.

Before the emergence of the most recent lawn cultivars, Penneagle seed was another favorite, released in 1978. Penneagle is best suited for use on tees.

Newer Cultivars

Pennlinks (1986), SR 1020 (1987), and Providence (1988) were the next significant advancements in creeping Bentgrass.

Following these were Crenshaw, Cobra, National, Putter, Regent, Southshore, and Viper.

Penn Links and Providence are probably the most widely used on golf courses.

These grasses produce a more vibrant color and a denser, more compact turf than Penncross.

Persistence and competitive ability are slightly better than Penncross.

Still, these cultivars rarely survive more than ten years without succumbing to annual bluegrass encroachment.

Growing Bentgrass

growing-Bentgrass-lawn

Creeping Bentgrass should be seeded in spring when temperatures reach 55-degrees Fahrenheit – especially the cool nighttime temperatures.

A well-prepared bed with a sand layer cover will help this turfgrass root well.

Remember that Bentgrass produces a dense mat of grass that has a shallow roots system and requires frequent (daily) watering and constant mowing.

For this reason, planting in the fall is not advised.

All vigorous creeping bentgrasses are capable of forming a substantial thatch layer above the soil line.

Thatch accumulation can be as much as 0.5″ per year on sand-based greens.

Thatch accumulation is primarily caused by stolon development and the slow decomposition of thatch in a sand root zone.

FAQs

Is Bentgrass bad?

Creeping Bentgrass has both positive and negative characteristics. Creeping bentgrass necessitates frequent watering due to its short roots. In addition, Creeping Bentgrass requires maintenance such as thatching and aeration – especially if using this grass type on a golf course. It is also highly susceptible to disease and pest infestation.

Is bentgrass good for lawns?

Bentgrass has a thick mat that includes shallow roots and beautiful blue-green leaves. This makes it a beautiful and hardy turfgrass that can survive foot activity and repeated mowing. Bentgrass is considered an interfering weed in southern lawns, but it is a beneficial species for cool zone lawns.

What is bentgrass used for?

Creeping bentgrass is a cool-season specialist grass that is often seen on lawn bowling, golf courses, and grass tennis courts.  Bentgrass grass species is typically ruled out as a suitable home lawn grass due to the expertise and price required to maintain it.

Is Bermuda grass a Type of bentgrass?

The most significant distinction between Bermudagrass and Bentgrass is that Bentgrass thrives in colder temperatures and is usually found in northern regions, whereas Bermudagrass thrives in hot climates and is more commonly found in the southern United States and Canada.

Conclusion

Creeping Bentgrass is a stoloniferous cool-season grass native to Europe and sensitive to heat stress.

Creeping Bentgrass forms a dense prostrate growing stand for short-cut turfs able to withstand high foot traffic.

The texture ranges from slightly coarse to extremely fine. Summer is when creeping bentgrass is at its most vibrant.

Some cultivars lose their color during the winter or develop numerous purple clones.

Other types of grass to consider

If you are looking for other varieties of grass to grow in your yard, check out our other related posts:

References

About/Mentions: Bentgrass, Lawn, Gardening Sod

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