Some Best Management
Practices for Turf
Brookside Community
7 September 2013, Warrenton, VA
Meadowlark Gardens – Vienna, VA – June 2013
BMPs for Turf
• Mow
• Water
• Fertilize
• Over seed
• Thoughts on soil health
Winter Early
spring
Spring Summer Early fall Fall Winter
Shoot Growth Root Growth Carbohydrates
High
Med.
Low
Figure 1. Se...
Mowing
• Most frequent management activity
• About once per week, more when growing faster, less
when dormant or growing s...
Mowing low
• Reduces tolerance for drought
• Increases weed pressure
• Makes turf more susceptible to stress
• Reduces tur...
Watering
• Cool season turf goes dormant in July and
August
• Add water consistently
(or not at all) 1 inch/wk
in two to t...
Fertilization
• Fertilizer is one of the
biggest contaminants in the
Chesapeake bay.
• Manage it properly
• If fertilizer ...
How to fertilize then?
• When grass is actively
growing, fall is the best.
• Not before a large rain
event
• No more than ...
You only recommended Nitrogen
• Why?
• Because Nitrogen is
mobile in the soil and
often the most limiting
nutrient to grow...
Changes to VA laws
• Maintenance fertilizer will
not contain phosphorus -
2014
• Can only apply
phosphorus on
established ...
Compost, an alternative fertilizer
• Help clay soils drain
• Help sandy soils retain
water
• Add nutrients for turf
• Redu...
Overseeding
• Why? Because we grow
fescue and it is a bunch
grass. This fixes the
holes in the turf.
• When? First two wee...
Soil Test• Always a good time to
take a soil test.
• Soil test will tell you
how much
lime, phosphorus and
potassium you n...
Why lime?
• Soils in VA naturally
acidic.
• Turf prefers to grow
between 6.3 and 6.8
pH.
• Lime raises the pH of
the soil....
Improving soil health
• Soil Compaction
– Issue on new
construction
– Over time soil roots will
reduce compaction
– Dogs, ...
A few other thoughts on turf…
• Clover is not a
weed.
• Moss is a
great
alternative to
grass in the
shade.
• Another talk ...
The Sales Pitch….. $20
• “Green” Grass • Volunteers pull a
representative soil
sample
• Can ask trained
volunteers questio...
Questions?
Tim Ohlwiler
VCE – Fauquier
540.341.7950 ext 3
tohlwile@vt.edu
Virginia Native Flower
Demonstration Garden
at t...
Some Best Management Practices for Turf
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Some Best Management Practices for Turf

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Presentation by Tim Ohlwiler from Virginia Tech Extension Services at PEC's Sustainable Landscaping Workshop in Warrenton, VA on September 7, 2013.

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Some Best Management Practices for Turf

  1. 1. Some Best Management Practices for Turf Brookside Community 7 September 2013, Warrenton, VA
  2. 2. Meadowlark Gardens – Vienna, VA – June 2013
  3. 3. BMPs for Turf • Mow • Water • Fertilize • Over seed • Thoughts on soil health
  4. 4. Winter Early spring Spring Summer Early fall Fall Winter Shoot Growth Root Growth Carbohydrates High Med. Low Figure 1. Seasonal Growth Patterns of Cool-Season Turfgrasses Relativegrowthrate Window 1Window 2
  5. 5. Mowing • Most frequent management activity • About once per week, more when growing faster, less when dormant or growing slower • Remove no more than 1/3 of leaf surface  Minimum recommended mowing heights for turf grasses  Kentucky bluegrass 1 1/2” to 2 1/2”  Tall fescue 2” to 3”  Creeping red fescue 2” to 3”  Perennial ryegrass 1 1/2” to 2 1/2”  Bermudagrass ½” to 1”  Zoysiagrass ¾” to 1” • Can I mow higher than this? Yes
  6. 6. Mowing low • Reduces tolerance for drought • Increases weed pressure • Makes turf more susceptible to stress • Reduces turf roots • On another note… return your clippings, they provide nutrients in the turf.
  7. 7. Watering • Cool season turf goes dormant in July and August • Add water consistently (or not at all) 1 inch/wk in two to three applications. • Water in very early morning • Turn off automatic systems when it rains.
  8. 8. Fertilization • Fertilizer is one of the biggest contaminants in the Chesapeake bay. • Manage it properly • If fertilizer is a contaminant of water, then I should not fertilize my turf? • This is actually found to not be true. Research at the University of Minnesota showed minimal fertilization to be the best for the environment. • Pet waste is a significant source of nutrients in out waterways.
  9. 9. How to fertilize then? • When grass is actively growing, fall is the best. • Not before a large rain event • No more than 1 lb of N / 1000 ft2 at a time • Use a slow release fertilizer. • Avoid fertilizing next to a pond or stream. (10 ft buffer) • Lawn and not sidewalk. Nitrogen Application by Month Quality May 15- Desired Sept. Oct. Nov. June 15 --------Lbs N/1000 sq ft-------- Low 0 1 0 0-0.5 Med. 1 1 0 0-0.5 High 1 1 1 0-0.5
  10. 10. You only recommended Nitrogen • Why? • Because Nitrogen is mobile in the soil and often the most limiting nutrient to growth. • 24 – 6 – 12 • N – P – K • What about other nutrients? • P -Phosphorus – going to be hard to find in fertilizers in VA • K – Potassium – apply according to soil test. • Other nutrients usually not needed.
  11. 11. Changes to VA laws • Maintenance fertilizer will not contain phosphorus - 2014 • Can only apply phosphorus on established turf if a soil test shows phosphorus is deficient • Folks that apply fertilizer for hire must be certified by VDACS – 1 July 2013.
  12. 12. Compost, an alternative fertilizer • Help clay soils drain • Help sandy soils retain water • Add nutrients for turf • Reduce soil compaction • PSU research indicates ¼ inch depth 1-2 x/yr to established turfs is a GREAT treatment • Consider sources, quality, ability to spread etc.
  13. 13. Overseeding • Why? Because we grow fescue and it is a bunch grass. This fixes the holes in the turf. • When? First two weeks of September. • What kind of seed? Fescue mix, you get what you pay for.
  14. 14. Soil Test• Always a good time to take a soil test. • Soil test will tell you how much lime, phosphorus and potassium you need to add. • VT recommends testing soil every 3 years. • Can add lime anytime of year as long as the ground is not frozen. • Soil Probe
  15. 15. Why lime? • Soils in VA naturally acidic. • Turf prefers to grow between 6.3 and 6.8 pH. • Lime raises the pH of the soil. But, how much lime?
  16. 16. Improving soil health • Soil Compaction – Issue on new construction – Over time soil roots will reduce compaction – Dogs, people, cars and equipment add to compaction over time.
  17. 17. A few other thoughts on turf… • Clover is not a weed. • Moss is a great alternative to grass in the shade. • Another talk on turf diseases and insect pests. • Consider planting zoysia as a turf grass.
  18. 18. The Sales Pitch….. $20 • “Green” Grass • Volunteers pull a representative soil sample • Can ask trained volunteers questions • Volunteers measure your turf area. • Receive a plan that says when and how much fertilizer to add. • Also tells you how much lime you need.
  19. 19. Questions? Tim Ohlwiler VCE – Fauquier 540.341.7950 ext 3 tohlwile@vt.edu Virginia Native Flower Demonstration Garden at the extension office. VCE - Fauquier 24 Pelham St. Warrenton, VA
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