Fine Fescue Demo Sites

Investigating public land manager benefits and barriers to implementation of fine fescue lawns on public and larger institutional private lands

Project Lead - Dr. Kristen Nelson

Our research team collaborated with University Sustainability Offices and Facilities Management Offices to develop demonstration plots for campus communities and visitors to evaluate fine fescue lawns. Higher education institutions are an excellent venue for engaging in discussions about alternative futures and the role fine fescue turf can play in sustainable practices.

Feel free to visit the fine fescue turfgrass demonstration sites if you are visiting any of the six campuses: Oregon State University, Utah State University, Minnesota University-Twin Cities, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Purdue University, and Rutgers University. These demonstration sites have been maintained by campus facilities staff as part of their standard vegetation management plan for over two years. 

Map of low-input fine fescue demonstration plot locations

Sustainability Programs have taken an active role in making their campuses living/learning laboratories for students, staff, and the broader community. Many colleges have multi-use turfgrass areas similar to traditional public lands such as parks, municipal building grounds, etc. This component of our research focused on planning, implementation, and evaluation of the fescue demonstration plots on six campuses.

After implementation, we interviewed college officials and professionals (e.g., sustainability staff, facilities land managers, and educators) regarding their perceptions of the barriers and benefits of a transition to fine fescues. Also, on three campuses, we hosted focus groups for municipal public land managers and landscape company representatives. In these sessions, the managers discussed the primary opportunities and barriers for conversion to low-input fine fescue varieties (e.g., evidence of new trait benefits, conversion timeline, seed availability). For the summary results of the public land manager study see the following page.

A low-maintenance fine fescue demonstration at the University of Minnesota.