308. Grass Diversity

From sports fields to home lawns, most grasses we see in the United States are non-native turf grasses grown as monocultures. A monoculture is when only one species is cultivated in a large area. 

While monoculture lawns are often attractive, they can be costly to maintain and provide little benefit for wildlife.

Cultivating a more diverse variety of grasses creates a healthier, more adaptable landscape that is less prone to diseases and pest infestations. It also provides food and habitat for wildlife. 

There are over 12,000 species of grasses, but we are most familiar with the major grass crops, including wheat, corn, barley, oats, and rice. 

In Bartholdi Park, we grow several distinctive grasses – from corn in the Kitchen Garden to native grasses in the rain gardens. You’ll encounter switchgrass, a native to most of eastern North America that’s known for its adaptability and durability.

You also may happen upon little bluestem, renowned for its blue-gray warm season color, which fades to an attractive bronze color as the weather cools in the fall. 

Can you spot any other grasses? Look for plant labels that say Poaceae – that’s the name of the grass family. 

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