Native Grass as Turf

Dec 4, 2017

Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County

Client's Request: Hello, I'm looking for advice. We planted Agrostis pallens (native bent grass) for turf in our back yard. We've been following the advice of the grower. Instructions don't account for cooler season weather. After 2-3 weeks when the grass appears to be rooting well and very green, we are now watering less (seems like too much perhaps) at 7 min duration at 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. for the past 4 days or so. As it is so much cooler this past few days, I'm thinking once a day, but even that seems like a lot. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Agrostis pallens<br>aka Native Bent Grass or Thin Grass<br>© Copyright 2007 Keir Morse (
Agrostis pallens
aka Native Bent Grass or Thin Grass
© Copyright 2007 Keir Morse (

MGCC Help Desk Response:  Thank you for contacting the UC Master Gardener Program with your question about watering your newly planted native bent grass (Agrostis pallens).

If the grass appears to be rooting well, you should be able to cut back on the watering. In fact, given the recent rains you can probably stop the irrigation if they continue every 3-4 days. First, however, you should check the moisture level in the soil. The soil should be moist at least six inches down. You can use a screwdriver or other long object to probe the moisture depth. If the moisture has not penetrated to six inches, you should consider a deep watering. (Be careful not to over saturate the soil, as too much water can prevent the development of deep roots). You may want to recheck the moisture level after any extended dry periods, although our typical heavy clay soils should do a good job of maintaining soil moisture.

For more information on irrigating new lawns, please see:

Once the grass is fully established, you may need to water only after the first two inches of soil have dried out, or, according to the California Native Plant Society, possibly only two to three times a month in the summer.

For information on when to irrigate established lawns, please see:

You may also be interested in the California Native Plant Society information on landscaping with Agrostis pallens:

I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have further questions.

Enjoy your new native lawn!

UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (ECS)

Note: The  UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round (except the last two weeks of December) to answer your gardening questions.  Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA  94523. We can also be reached via telephone:  (925)646-6586, email:, or on the web at MGCC Blogs can be found at You can also subscribe to the Blog  (//

By Steve I Morse
Author - Contra Costa County Master Gardener