Behind the scenes of the favored look of thick, green lawns are grass seed varieties with roots in foreign lands. Imported for their versatility, tolerance and ground-covering appearance, non-native grass seeds beautify lawns across the United States. Knowing the varieties of non-native grass seed and their characteristics makes choosing a foreign grass for your lawn an exciting--and exotic--experience.
Bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum)
Native to South America, Bahiagrass is a favorite in warm, drought-prone areas. It is a full-sun, disease and insect-resistant, low-maintenance grass. Bahiagrass' thick turf competes well with weeds, grows well in sandy soil and stands up to heavy traffic. According to Bahiagrass.com, it is a chosen grass for cattle pastures. Some disadvantages of choosing Bahiagrass for your lawn is the grass has a coarse texture and does not do well in shady areas or in soil with a high pH.
Bent Grass (Agrostis types)
Bent grass comes from Asia and Europe, owing to its ability to thrive in cooler and humid areas. Bent grass is a creeping grass that forms stolons---connecting, above-ground shoots---long leaves and shallow roots. Bent grass is favored for its low growing pattern and dense appearance formed by its above-ground meshwork. This is what makes it a golf course favorite. However, it is also a very high-maintenance grass, requiring frequent watering, feeding and maintenance.
Orchard Grass (Dactylis glomerata L.)
Another foreign grass of European origin, orchard grass is a soft perennial grass that gross very deep and dense roots, allowing it to thrive through the colder climactic conditions. Orchard grass is commonly grown in pastures for livestock grazing and for making hay, as stated by Jimmy Henning and Norman Risner of the University of Missouri.
Weeping Lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula)
Weeping lovegrass finds its native home in South Africa. This perennial grass grows leaves that fold over, creating a bunchy or bundled grass appearance, and its base plant spreads out about one foot from its origin. When left to grow without clipping, the grass reaches heights between 2 and 4 feet. Weeping lovegrass is also a self-seeding grass, producing many seeds that fall or are tilled into the soil for new growth.
Centipedegrass (Eremochloa ophiuroides)
The growing pattern of this non-native grass gives it its name. A native grass of Southeast Asia and China---and found in Africa, South America and the Carribean---centipedegrass grows slowly and has a low, ground-covering profile. It is a low-maintenance variety that does well in warm climates. According to Richard L. Duble, Turf Specialist at the Texas Cooperative Extension, "Centipedegrass remains green throughout the year in mild climates, but leaves and young stolons are killed during hard freezes. It does not have a true dormant state and resumes growth whenever temperatures are favorable."
Ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.)
Its popularity and abundant use in the United States makes the fact that ryegrass is a non-native grass almost startling. Perennial ryegrass natively grows in North Africa, Asia and Europe. It has the ability to adapt well in cool and warm climates. Ryegrass is used for home and commercial lawns as well as pasture fields for livestock.