Dreamin’ of Green Grass

I’ve been fortunate over the years to travel to other states to learn about various aspects of tree and turf care and transfer the technology and research results to the residents of Nebraska.  It’s amazing how many similarities there are.  Sure, the plants are different, and the care is a bit unique, but fertilization, pruning, pest control, pest identification, planting techniques, plant selection, aeration, mowing, prevention of pollution and other best management practices are exactly the same as they are in the Midwest.

St. Augustine grass stolon


Bermuda grass stolons

The value of paying attention to the aforementioned while on a trip to a warm weather state in winter is a reinforcement of similar, yet slightly different growing patterns, pests and the plants themselves.  A classic example is the growth pattern of common turfgrasses.  Bermudagrass and St. Augustine grass are common lawn grasses in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama.  They grow close to the ground and spread by stolons and rhizomes, in a similar fashion to the Kentucky bluegrass (rhizomes) and buffalograss (stolons) that we grow here in Nebraska.  As well, there are grasses that are somewhat shade tolerant in Nebraska (tall fescue, fine fescue) and also in the south (centipede grass).

Kentucky bluegrass rhizome
Buffalograss stolon


One of the stark differences that is commonly seen is the plants that Nebraskans grow as houseplants are usually outdoor landscape plants in these regions.  The first time that you travel to one of these locations, take a close look at the plants near a restaurant or shopping mall.  You’ll probably find rosemary, ficus, geraniums and snake plants growing in the soil, outdoors.  Be careful not to hurt your neck doing a double take!

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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