Seedy Lawns


Joe Boggs reported that seed heads are rising above TURF-TYPE TALL FESCUE (Festuca arundinacea) lawns in southern Ohio.  This is a natural event at this time of the year and it can also occur with other turfgrasses used in home lawns including KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS (Poa pratensis).  Unfortunately, an abundance of seed heads can make a lawn look very unattractive and the physiological effects on turf plants may temporarily reduce overall turf quality. 

Seed production saps energy from the plant and may cause turf blades to become sparse and off-colored.  The seed stalks have fewer leaf blades and their woody structure resists mowing which adds to the eyesore.  Seed production is seldom consistent throughout a home lawn and it sometimes occurs in patches.  Thus, the problem is often made more obvious by patches of seed heads occurring in an otherwise smooth, dark green lawn.

Turfgrass seed heads usually begin to form below the recommended mowing height of 2 1/2 - 3" for home lawns, thus the seed heads will still develop despite frequent mowing.  However, turf managers should not lower the mowing height in an attempt to remove all of them as they are a short-live aesthetic problem; they do not cause long-term damage to turf plants.  However, the stress produced by low-mowing can cause long-term injury to turf plants. 

Frequent mowing will not prevent seed development; however, infrequent mowing will allow seed heads to fully develop, rising to their full glory to tower above the turf plants.  Thankfully, the unsightly seed heads and stalks will eventually disappear on their own allowing Ohio lawns to return to an aesthetically appealing uniformly green carpet.