Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Plants, Soils, and Climate

Committee Chair(s)

Kelly Kopp


Kelly Kopp


Paul Johnson


B. Shaun Bushman


David Held


Paul Grossl


Recently, the US has seen an expansion in the amount of turfgrass land cover (lawns, parks, roadsides, sports fields, and golf courses), as well as an interest in reducing fertilizer, water, and pesticide use in these grass systems. To help maintain quality and function while reducing resource inputs, two promising approaches have emerged: planting clover into lawns and applying plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria.

White clover and grass mixtures have been studied for their ability to cut down on fertilizer usage and provide a uniform, dark green lawn, but other clover types have not been as widely studied and may provide similar benefits. We studied white, strawberry, crimson, and rose clovers planted with Kentucky bluegrass to see if they could maintain similar dark green, uniform, dense cover compared to grass-only lawns. These clover/grass combinations not only reduced weed and bare soil cover but also maintained or even enhanced turfgrass quality, outperforming pure bluegrass plots.

Limited research exists around plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria and whether they can help drought-stressed grass, while reducing water use. Although the bacteria didn’t boost leaf or root growth during drought stress, certain bacteria did help maintain quality in some creeping bentgrass. By adding clover and beneficial bacteria into turfgrass, we can help reduce water, fertilizer, and pesticide use in grass, while maintaining the quality and ecosystem services of those grass systems.