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Common Bent (Agrostis tenuis)

Common Bent (also known as Browntop Bent or Agrostis capillaris) is a cool season grass that is used mainly in mixtures for golf greens. Bent seed looks very different to most other grass seed because of its small size. The individual bent seeds are so fine that they are almost like dust. It is for this reason that when it is used in a mixture it only forms 5-20% of the mix by weight, but even at a low percentage you still get a lot of bent seed in the mix.

  • 1 gram of bent = 10,000 seeds
  • 1 gram of red fescue = 1,000 seeds
  • 1 gram of perennial ryegrass = 800 seeds

A bag of bent seed is always very expensive compared to a normal grass seed mixture. However one bag of bent seed can sow 4000m, compared to a standard mixture that would sow around 600m2.

Key Characteristics

  • Tolerates very short mowing
  • Tolerant of most soil conditions
  • Low sowing rate due to small seed size
  • Does not like shade
  • Exceptional density
  • Widely used in golf greens

Sowing times

Common bent requires constant soil temperatures of 15 degrees Celsius for optimum germination. In the UK this would typically be between May and late September.

Germination time

Common bent grass seed would normally germinate in 14-28 days, subject to conditions.

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Don’t confuse common bent with highland bent!

If you are buying a mixture for a lawn, bowling green or golf green that contains common bent, please make sure that this is proper common bent and not the inferior quality ‘highland bent’. Highland bent is often described as common bent but is in fact a completely different species. The photos below show highland bent (left) and common bent (right). The highland bent is coarse, quite open and is also ‘stalky’. It is clearly a lower quality grass and should never be sown on golf or bowling greens.

What is common bent used for?

Golf Fairways:

Common bent is not normally used in grass seed mixtures for golf course fairways due to its higher cost. However, on many fairways it is found growing naturally – particularly ones that are slightly damp.

Bowling Greens:

As with golf greens, common bent makes an ideal grass for use on bowling greens. Its ability to tolerate short mowing and create a dense, smooth surface makes it an ideal choice.

General Lawn & Landscaping:

The high price of common bent means that it is not frequently used in mixtures for lawns or landscaping. For lawns and landscaping a mixture of ryegrass and fescue would be the most popular choice.

Golf Greens:

Common bent is the most widely used species for golf greens in the UK. Thanks to its ability to tolerate mowing down to heights of just 3mm, it makes the ideal grass for producing smooth putting surfaces. Common bent is tolerant of dry conditions as well as moist conditions, which is why it is used widely on golf greens that are inland where conditions tend to be damper than coastal locations. A traditional golf greens mixture is a blend of common bent, slender creeping red fescue and Chewings fescue.

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