By Robert Cox, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Horticulture
TurtleTurf is a trade name for 'BarKoel' tufted hairgrass, also known as Prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha). It can be used by itself as a seeded lawn or in a seed mix with several of the fine fescues (Western Drought Defy is one of the fescue-hairgrass mix trade names). Currently it is used in some areas of the country as golf course rough and, to some extent, as home lawn. Tufted hairgrass is tough, drought-tolerant, and slow growing, needing mowing less frequently. It apparently needs only minimal fertilizer, and develops disease problems when over-fertilized. Its drawbacks seem to be that it cannot tolerate high foot traffic and the seed cost is high, as it is not a good producer of seed. Mixing with fine fescues makes the seed mix less expensive.
Either the fescue-hairgrass mix or TurtleTurf itself could be used here, and may prove effective if cultured correctly. Choosing an alternative lawn grass based on only one parameter, such as drought tolerance or slow growth, may result in some disappointment later when that grass exhibits its disadvantages. Every potential lawn grass species has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, each possible lawn grass varies somewhat in cultural needs. Fertilizing, watering, and mowing an alternative lawn grass just the same way as Kentucky bluegrass can negate advantages and promote disease, insect or weed problems.
Photos: Turtle Turf
© CSU/Denver County Extension Master Gardener 2010
888 E. Iliff Avenue, Denver, CO 80210
Date last revised: 01/05/2010