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Queen's University

Fescue Grass

May 6, 2010fescueplanting.jpg

A new type of grass being tested for use on Queen's lawns is expected to make the university a greener place.

"Fescue grass" is more suited to our climate zone than many varieties that are currently planted here. It is drought-resistant, has some degree of pest resistance and is slow-growing, so requires less frequent cutting. The plant's strong, deep roots also aid in erosion control.

"From an operations perspective, we hope to be able to decrease the amount of resources required for cutting and watering, and redirect that labour toward things like maintaining flower beds," says Sustainability Manager Aaron Ball. On a small scale, it could help reduce the university's environmental footprint, with fewer greenhouse gas emissions from lawnmowers and tractors, he adds.

Because fescue can have a less refined look and is often grown taller than many conventional grasses, if planted widely it could change the overall appearance of university green space. "Our lawns would be less manicured and pristine looking," says Mr. Ball. "That's an adjustment the campus community might need to make if we are willing to present a less cosmetic image to our grounds maintenance. On the positive side, our crews should be freed up to devote more time to other projects."

A patch of land between Stirling Hall and the Ban Righ Centre will serve as the fescue test site. The ground had already been dug up for maintenance purposes, and is being replanted with the new grass seed this week. Over the coming year, Physical Plant Services staff will track the level of maintenance required, as well as community reaction to the potential new look of its green space.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000