0416TurfManagementdb.cfm Myths and facts of proper turf management
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Myths and facts of proper turf management


By Brett Burgess

CSU Area Range and Livestock Extension Agent

As lawns start to come out of dormancy and have the added challenge of water restrictions in many of our communities you may be asking the question “how can I keep a green healthy lawn under these circumstances?” It may be more of a challenge this year but here are a few tips and myths to keep in mind as you begin maintaining your turf.

Most lawn problems are the result of poor management decisions. Let me address a few concerns that may aid in developing a healthier lawn. The simple act of mowing can have major impacts on the vigor of your lawn. The adage “mow tall to save it all” brings added benefits. When mowing, avoid cutting more than a third of the turf’s height. This will provide a healthier stand of grass, fewer pest problems, and less stress on the lawn. By keeping grass height at two to three inches will provide a heather and deeper root system. Leave grass clippings on the lawn. Use of a mulching blade on your mower recycles nutrients, provides organic matter and keeps pesticides on the lawn. Over time this organic matter will increase the water holding capacity, decreasing irrigation demand on the lawn by up to 25 percent. Leaving clippings on the lawn does not cause thatch, this is a myth. Mulched clippings add to the tilth (aggregation) of the soil while reducing soil compaction.

When should fertilizer be applied to the lawn? This question depends on the type of grass in your lawn. Cool-season grasses such as fescue, bluegrass and ryegrass should be fertilized in early/late spring, late summer and early fall. Warm-season grasses such as buffalograss and bermudagrass should be fertilized once or twice annually, typically in May and July; avoid spring, late summer and fall applications on warm-season grass lawns, as this will only encourage weed growth. With all lawn applications, iron should be included as part of the maintenance schedule. Iron will develop a greener lawn, which will aid in photosynthesis, which will promote root development. Avoid iron oxide sources; they are ineffective on most Colorado soils with pH above 7. A good recommendation is iron sulfate, which is readily utilized in the soil and is inexpensive, though multiple applications may be necessary through the growing season.

Going into another dry year with water restrictions in place for many communities in southeast Colorado the big question is “what about water?” Thinking from a range and livestock perspective properly watering a lawn comes down to timing and duration. Through the hottest months of the year, on average, a lawn will require 1.5 inches of water per week. Watering should take place when temperature and evaporation are at their lowest, typically between the hours of 3 and 5 a.m. Watering at this time will not promote fungus in the lawn; on the contrary, water will penetrate deep into the soil profile with minimal loss. If these simple steps are taken a green thick lawn is achievable even with limited available water.

Date: 5/6/2013



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