Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) for low-input lawns in the Mediterranean environment

Cristina Pornaro, Michael Fidanza, Stefano Macolino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, environmental concerns have created a desire for the sustainable care of grass swards, with a specific goal of reducing resources needed for turfgrass maintenance by utilising low-input species best adapted to specific local environmental conditions. A two-year field experiment was conducted to compare the aesthetic or ornamental quality, and function potential, of different swards. The treatments consisted of four monostands of white clover (Trifolium repens L.), yarrow (Achillea millefolium L.), strong creeping red fescue (Festuca rubra L. ssp. rubra Gaudin), and tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb. = Schedonorus arundinaceus Schreb. Dumort.), three two-species mixtures of white clover + yarrow, white clover + strong creeping red fescue, and yarrow + strong creeping red fescue, and one three-species mixture of white clover + yarrow + strong creeping red fescue. Within each plot, a botanical survey was performed each spring to estimate species relative abundance by determining the proportions of different species present. All plots were evaluated every two weeks during the growing period for visual quality and normalised difference vegetative index. Vegetation canopy height in each plot was measured before each biweekly mowing event, and clippings were collected to measure vegetative dry matter. Relative abundance of yarrow, strong creeping red fescue, and tall fescue was stable throughout the entire study period. The mixtures including yarrow displayed sufficient or higher quality ratings (≥6) in all seasons with the exception of winter, however, yarrow + strong creeping red fescue compensated each other's defects by maintaining their relative abundance (≥ 80%) over time as well suppressing or prevent significant weed invasion (relative abundance <15%). Moreover, yarrow or strong creeping red fescue monostands, or yarrow + strong creeping red fescue could be maintained with lower number of mowing events, due to their lower vertical growth. In conclusion, alternative plant species to turf-type grasses produced a visual quality equal to or better than tall fescue maintained under low fertilisation and mowing frequency. All swards that included yarrow produced better visual quality, exhibited better weed control, had lower vertical growth rate, and provided an aesthetically pleasant, persistent, and sustainable vegetative ground cover than other swards, and can be utilised as a low-input species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number127812
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
StatePublished - Jan 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


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