Blue Heaven Little Bluesteam in landscape.

Grasses as Sustainable Plants for Diverse Landscapes

Principal Investigator

Mary Meyer

Department and College

Department of Horticultural Science in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

Project Number


Funding Type


Project Start and End Date

October 1, 2015-September 30, 2020

Project Summary

Grasses are important sustainable landscape plants that have many ecosystem benefits, such as increasing soil organic matter, reducing erosion, capturing pollutants, and removing excessive nitrogen from runoff water. Grasses easily grow with minimal inputs, requiring minimal additional water, or fertilizer, and rarely need any pesticide application for pest control. This project will promote the benefits of using grasses in the landscape through a number of specific projects. Using interpretive signage and maintaining a living collection of over 200 diverse grasses at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum will allow the public and industry to see the plants growing in the landscape. Formal and informal classes will be held in this plant collection to teach grass benefits and the specific value of individual grasses. Applied research projects, such as propagation through novel techniques, and evaluation of new grasses for landscape performance in USDA Zones 3 and 4 will be conducted to assist commercial growers in growing and selling grasses.

A review of scientific literature on the role of native grasses as pollinator larval food will be conducted and published. Using the information about grasses as native pollinator larval food, signs and point of purchase information will be developed and used in five Minnesota garden centers. We anticipate this project will increase public knowledge on the benefits of native grasses and will increase sales of these important plants thus improving the profits and economic outcome for retail garden centers and commercial growers.

Results of all research projects will be published in trade and scientific journals.