Grass for pond bank

Today I got this question via email from a golf course superintendent:
Any thoughts on a pond bank species/turf that will tolerate wet and fertile soil, and that would match a fine fescue (secondary) rough? We have a large pond inside the course that will have homes and golf course around it. So keeping maintenance time down is a concern.
My answer:
By matching, I think you mean “looks the same” so the pond bank should “look like” the surrounding fescue rough. It sounds like you are looking for a neat, low growing plant from the fescue rough down the bank as it goes into the pond. And you want it to look neat, and yet not have to mow and do a lot of maintenance on it, correct?

   Most pond in MN will have a lot of cattails and reed canary grass is sites like this without vigilance. And runoff from the golf course will add nutrients and could lead to algae bloom. You do want some buffer on the water to minimize runoff and reduce erosion. The more I write, the tougher this seems!!
  The best recommendation ecologically is to use native grasses and forbs/wildflowers that will make a good buffer from the course to the water. This can be beautiful and attract wildlife to the area. I would contact a company that specializes in native plants such as  Prairie Restoration,, they have a locations throughout Minnesota.  They will do a free estimate and give you some ideas and recommend a seed mix for this area. Ideally, it will be wildflowers as well as wetland grasses, like swtichgrass (Panicum), manna grass (Glyceria) and wetland sedges, which are larva food for native butterflies. This can be beautiful, although it may not be what you are thinking of now. It’s important to do what is ecologically sound and sustainable.  Wet sites usually support or grow tall plants and dry sites result in short plants, although we might prefer other heights. From limited information, this is my recommendation. However,  It is very possible I am reading this situation incorrectly, due to limited information. I am happy to discuss or revisit any time. Send some photos as well, sometimes the site is dry although its near a wetland…another challenge! thanks for asking and good luck,


About grasstalk

University of Minnesota Professor and Extension Horticulturist
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2 Responses to Grass for pond bank

  1. I would be interested in hearing recommendations about native sedges for wet meadow to wet mesic soils, Grasses native to our area for landscaping.

    • grasstalk says:

      Thanks for your question Will! The first two species that come to mind are Carex muskingumensis, palm sedge and prairie cordgrass, Spartina pectinata. Others are lake sedge,Carex lacustris and Calamagrostis canadensis, blue joint grass. All of these like moist sites and tolerate standing water for brief or longer times. Hope this is helpful.

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