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Growing & Knowing Grasses- PDF Ebook

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Grasses are perhaps the most important plant family of all to mankind. They provide us with important cereal crops, food for grazing animals, playing surfaces for most of our sports fields, fresh and dried cut flowers, culinary and perfumery herbs, and are extremely important for building and other construction (i.e. bamboos), particularly across the tropics.

Grasses also contribute to the environment in positive ways, they are quite resilient and need less water than most people presume; most grass species are tough and even un-watered grass will bounce back after dry and hot weather.

The Growing & Knowing Grasses ebook will provide you with everything that you need to know about grass. Get to all about the botany of grasses, how to identify them, how to cultivate grasses, the different uses for grasses and also includes a detailed illustrated encyclopedia of grasses and grass-like plants.

‘True’ grasses belong to the family Poaceae (syn. Gramineae). Other plants such as reeds and rushes and many other strappy leafed plants may occasionally be called “grasses” by non-technical people, but they are not really grasses. Grasses are one of the largest families of flowering plants. They range in size from tiny creeping or clumping species through to magnificent tropical bamboos.

Table of Contents


The role of grass in the environment
What is grass?
Using ornamental grasses for effect

Structure of a typical grass
Ways to identify grasses
Description of grasses
Grass terminology

Turf grasses
Amenity grasses
Crop production
Soils and grass
Soil preparation for ornamental grasses
Fertilising grasses
Pruning grasses
Propagation of grasses
Sowing turf seed
Sodding/instant turf
Other propagation methods
Managing pests and diseases
Some important grass pest and disease problems

Landscaping with grasses
Grasses for turf
Grasses as animal feed
Other uses for grasses
Human food
For making tools and equipment
Building materials
Problems with grasses
Grasses as weeds
Grasses and human allergies
Grasses for landscaping
Landscape use of bamboos
Turf grass varieties
Bent grasses
Rye grasses
Blue grasses
Other grasses
Major warm season lawn grasses
Zoysia grasses
Carpet grasses
Other important grasses

A-Z of ornamental grass-like plants

A-Z of some ornamental grasses



For a brief introduction to Grasses, watch this video made by our staff.




Grasses grow in almost every climate and soil type on earth. Most grow best in full sun or light shade and with some moisture in the soil, but with careful selection you can find ‘grass’ to suit most situations.


When establishing a lawn and planning which species of grasses to use, it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of different grasses and why certain grass species are used in preference to others. 

The intended or actual use, the maintenance, watering requirements and the aspect (sun or shade or part shade) of a particular area, are the deciding factors. Grass species are therefore chosen to suit sun, shade or in between. Some need a lot of water but other species of lawn mixes need far less. Some need a lot of mowing others less - for example bent grasses and fescues (such as Chewings and Creeping Red) can withstand lower mowing than other grasses.  

The bent grass strains known as Penncross and Palustris are both stoloniferous (spreading from stolons rather than clumping) and tend to become spongy with age.  If these bent species are used alone or with fescues in a lawn, bowling green or golf green, annual scarifying, preening and coring is essential for their maintenance. In a park or sports oval these varieties of bent tend to colonise and form patches choking out all other grasses giving a very patchy appearance.

For a domestic lawn, the species you choose will also depend on use. If you are going to use an area for children and animals to play on, then a tough lawn will be needed. Many cultivars are now available, for example couch grass cultivars ‘Sir Walter’ or ‘Santa Ana’ are both tough and reliable creeping grasses fit for that purpose – bought as turf rather than seeds. If you want to establish a fine lawn that can withstand lower mowing then you might choose Tall Fescue – this cultivar can be purchased as turf but also as seed. 


Amenity grasses are those grasses used in public spaces and include ornamental grasses used for aesthetic purposes, those used for erosion control, and also sports turf grass varieties used on football fields, cricket wickets, golf courses, bowling greens, tennis courts and so on.

Many grass species are suitable for amenity horticulture but again it is important to choose an appropriate species for the purpose. Some ornamental grass species are not overly drought tolerant, so they would not be suited to public planting (where rain only is relied on for water). Others are tough and reliable, so these would be the first choice in public areas that are not maintained or watered. Grass species for sports facilities are selected according to use, for example - a bowling green or putting green may use different species to a football field. 

Large grasses may be grown alongside other types of plants as single specimens, but more often than not, especially in public spaces, several or many plants of the same species are planted together to create a massed affect. 

Soils that are vulnerable to erosion can be held together and stabilized if you plant grasses with strong, mat forming root systems that are not too shallow. Grasses that tolerate air pollution are often used for planting along roadsides. Invasive species can become problematic though, even if they initially fulfil their intended purpose. There is no point in using a grass for amenity horticulture if it ends up becoming a local weed, or its pollen causes high levels of hay fever among local residents. 

Grasses grow in almost every climate and soil type on earth. Most grow best in full sun or light shade and with some moisture in the soil, but with careful selection you can find ‘grass’ to suit most situations.



Grass crops like rice, wheat or corn are most commonly grown as a ‘mono-culture’ crop in paddocks on broad acre farms. Sometimes they are grown alongside or amongst other plants as a poly-culture. When grown with other plants - you do need to consider what you grow them with. Some species of plants will compete strongly for light, water or nutrients with each other; or may attract and harbour pest and disease problems that can affect adjacent plants.  Combinations of different plants can be beneficial at other times 


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Growing & Knowing Grasses- PDF Ebook Growing & Knowing Grasses- PDF Ebook
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