In our quests to traverse wooded areas, our focus is often on the giant oaks, birches, and other plants and trees that seem to look down upon us, as well as the greenery we may glimpse at eye level, without paying much thought to the surfaces we walk on. This post will describe the mats of greenery one would walk on around the woods (en route to the lake) and in the surrounding hills. Finding the particular species of grass was no easy task, though geographic limitations posed a good place to start, due to North Carolina’s diverse experience of all four seasons. There are two varieties of grass species grown in North Carolina, which include cool-season grasses and warm season grasses.
According to the NC State Cooperative Extension, warm-season grasses grow best in the summer, while cool-season grasses tend to grow best in the spring and fall, staying green throughout winter. Guilford’s running trails use Bermuda grass, a warm-season grass that is extremely drought resistant and recovers quickly from wear and traffic. If you’re ever considering what grass to use for a particular area, it’s definitely important to understand the type of land, which region you’re in, and whether the area gets a lot of foot traffic. The grass near the lake, on the other hand is a tall fescue grass, which is a cool-season grass that provides a lawn that stays green year-round (though not uniform, due to the varieties of crab grass present). It tolerates moderate foot traffic, is fairly resistant to drought, and can survive with very little maintenance. Springing out of both grasses include spots of daffodils, the root of which can be used to make tea, and clusters of buttercups. Whenever I see the buttercups, I remember elementary school, when we used to place the tender, bright blooms under our chins to see the tiny glow that would reflect. Small purple flowers like stars, called speedwell, are one among these weeds and are known to spread very quickly, but each flora is more than its label as a “weed.”
Other than considering the minutiae of grass species, it is simply mesmerizing to behold how organisms and micro-organisms utilize it in the constant food chain. Both muscovy ducks and geese, which will be described in a later post, consume the grass as a secondary source of food, and their excretions fertilize the soil, which in turn grows more grass. The ground on the banks of the lake, beside the swings, no longer have grass or dark soil; rather, it has been covered by sand, possibly due to the erosion of said soil. However, in a stark contrast to the dirt and grass that cover the actual areas of the forest and lake area, the pathway from the beginning of George Fox Road to the Counseling Center, Pines, and the Dean’s House, along with the subdivision on the other side is entirely made of gravel, which is beneficial when it rains because it doesn’t become as slushy as the areas with dirt and grass.
Instead, giant puddles, dodged by runners and dog-walkers alike, encompass large portions of the path during those times. Some drivers on the path, like my mother, are rendered irate by the cacophony created by the pieces of gravel hitting the car, other walkers are found shaking stones out of their shoes, but that well worn path is sought continuously regardless, by Pines residents returning from a long day of class, weary students seeking solace from the Counseling Center, and the Provost, Frank Boyd, as he returns back from a long day of work. Meanwhile, the grass folds and crinkles as ducks, geese, and various organisms alike trudge across, through rain and shine.