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Bentgrass, also known by its genus name Agrostis, includes approximately 125 different species of grasses. The name aptly contains the word “bent” because it has a shallow root structure that bends just under the surface of the earth. Some species are considered to be weeds, while other varieties are used to feed animals and as turf. It is most commonly used as turf for golf course greens, tee boxes, and fairways, but it can also be used on home lawns and sports fields. It is native to Europe and Asia, but it grows well in cool, wet climates in the United States and Canada, also.
There are several benefits to using bentgrass as a lawn, golf course, or athletic field turf. For example, it can be cut very short and still thrive. It is also able to withstand a high volume of traffic, both from people walking on foot and from golf carts or other wheeled equipment. Even when it is cut short, it is dense and creates a mesh-like green ground covering. It also can be combined with other hardy grasses, such as Bermuda grass, to give a sleeker effect.
Many different species of bentgrass are commonly found in cool, damp climates. Creeping bentgrass or Agrostis stolonifera is used almost exclusively on the greens, tees, and fairways of golf courses, but can be considered a weed that is difficult to abate if it grows in an area where it is not wanted. Velvet bentgrass or Agrostis canina, like its name, has a fine, velvety texture. Many large turf lawns in Europe use velvet bentgrass because it can be easily mowed quite short, but it requires some maintenance to survive. It is lighter in color than many other species as well.
Some varieties can be cut quite short for certain venues, like golf course greens, while other varieties can be left un-groomed and can grow quite tall. For example, spike bentgrass or Agrostis exarata grows to 8 inches (20.3 cm) tall and is rough to the touch. It is usually used to restore prairielands and flooded areas. It is also commonly used to revegetate ditches and timberland that has been burned or logged. Sometimes it is used to feed livestock as well.
While bentgrass is capable of growing in warm climates, to survive, it must be well-maintained. It is prone to certain fungi and molds as well. It is easy to grow from seed, and even if it is affected by disease, areas can be successfully reseeded.