Turfgrass Management

Welcome to the dog days of summer everyone! While you are enjoying the summer, you may have noticed lush, green fields at baseball stadiums, or fancy lawns at various houses. And then again, with the heat, you may have noticed some yellowing or browning. How do these stay so green, beautiful, lush, and vibrant? That is what we will be discussing today. What is turfgrass management? It is a branch of urban agriculture that is the management of a turfgrass surface in residential, business, sports, or other settings. This may include irrigation, trimming, pest, fungi control, weed control, and anything else needed to maintain the turf in the landscape. The turf itself can be either sod or hand seeded grass that is narrow-leaved and uniform in appearance. Most commonly used types of grasses  are Fescue and Bermuda Grass. A popular golf turf grass is Bentgrass, Popular ballpark turf grasses are Bermuda Grass and Kentucky Blue Grass. Numerous home lawn turfs use St. Augustine or Ryegrass for their turf. These are more popular because of their properties. For example, Bermuda Grass is tolerant of foot traffic, making it an excellent choice for warm season turfs.  As you see, there are a wide variety of turf grasses, but how are these grasses kept up? First, you must establish your turf. This could be stripping the pre-existing grass from the area and either sodding or seeding your new turfgrass seed.  From there you need to select a variety of turfgrass that is viable in your area. For instance, Bermuda Grass doesn't grow as well in cooler climates and Kentucky Blue Grass wouldn't fare so well in warm climates. Once you have your space prepared, choice picked out and put the turfgrass into the desired space, it is time for it to grow. Once it is growing, turf management employees now have to worry about a plethora of tasks to perform to enhance and maintain the landscape. Once the turf has grown, it has to be appropriately trimmed or mowed, needs to be fertilized regularly with higher rates of nitrogen to maintain the lush and green look, needs to be watered when it becomes dry on the top two inches of the soil horizon, and needs to be aerated periodically to allow oxygen into the soil and help make the fertilizers readily usable. Aeration of lawns should be done at least once a month to allow water to penetrate through heavier soils, and allow the oxygen to enter the roots. If the soil is not as heavy as clay soils, every 18-24 months may be acceptable for home lawns. If the turf is for a ballpark, or a golf course, you should aerate your soil once a month at least, as these are more traveled on and will compact even more often than lawns do. As mentioned, water and irrigation are important for turfgrass. It is best to water early in the morning between two a.m. and eight a.m. as this is the time where evaporation doesn't occur as heavily, thereby removing diseases. The last thing important about turfgrass is keeping it free of weeds, fungi, and pests. A systematic spraying about once a week should take care of the problems. You can easily become a turfgrass manager for your own home, but to do this for a career it is best to either have an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in landscaping or turf management. For lawn advice, you can also call your extension agent for advice. Happy landscaping!!

Kenneth Blanton, North Carolina.


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