Humans have great capacity to alter the landscape environment. Turfgrasses, while frequently taken for granted, are used to improve the quality of life for many people living within developed landscapes.
The use of turfgrasses as ground cover in managed landscapes probably originated from man’s effort to develop a grazing system necessary for survival of both man and his domesticated animals. The grazed village green of ancient times formed a well-knit turf that was durable under foot as well as aesthetically inviting. Humans have used this closely cropped system to socialize and recreate for millennia; it is the basis for many landscapes around modern day homes, businesses, roadways, in parks and other places of beauty.
In addition to durability under traffic and close cropping, turfgrasses are grown in landscapes to enhance the environment and quality of life through stabilization and accelerated restoration of soil. Turfgrasses also function within these altered ecosystems to protect water resources largely by reducing water and wind erosion and filtering runoff. Turfgrass cover provides a cooling effect in urban environments as well as providing valuable recreational space for sport and leisure. Other benefits of turfgrasses to humans and the environment include reduction of noise and glare, safety via firebreaks and increased visibility zones on roadsides, airfields and security-sensitive locations, and reduction of rodents and other pests. Turfgrasses also provide aesthetic benefits within the landscape.
As a result, multiple disciplines are involved in research and education within Turfgrass Science. Plant breeding continues to improve the persistence and stress tolerance of numerous species used as turfgrasses. Soil scientists work to design best management practices for improved drainage, durability under traffic, and fertilization strategies. Weed scientists, plant pathologists, and entomologists are developing practices designed to combat the incidence and severity of pests. Plant physiologists have increased our understanding of turfgrass responses to environmental stresses such as heat and drought.