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4 Mulches And Practical Turf
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  • 1.  
  • 2. Mulching to Reduce Evaporation
  • 3. Mulching to Reduce Evaporation
    • Terms
    • Mulch Soil Amendment
    • Applied on surface Mixed into soil
  • 4. Benefits of Mulching
  • 5. Benefits of Mulching
    • Reduces evaporation by 25-50%
    • Organic mulches promotes soil microorganism activity (which improves soil tilth, reducing
    • Stabilizes soil moisture
    • Prevents soil compaction
    • Control weeds
    • Moderates soil temperature extremes
    • Controls erosion
    • Gives a finished look
  • 6. Mulch: edging & grading
    • When mulch is added above grade it readily spreads off the bed onto the lawn or sidewalk creating a mowing or trip hazard.
    grass or sidewalk level mulch layer soil level
  • 7. Mulch: edging & grading
    • An effective alternative is to drop the soil level in the mulch bed so the top of the mulch is at grade level.
      • However, ensure that the mulched bed doesn’t fill wilt water draining from higher areas .
    grass or sidewalk level soil level mulch layer
  • 8. Mulch: edging & grading
    • An effective alternative is to round down the soil level along the edge of the bed. This gives a nice finished edge at grade level and creates a raised bed effect for the flowerbed.
    grass or sidewalk level soil level mulch layer soil and mulch taper down to grade
  • 9. Wood/bark chip mulch
  • 10. Wood/bark chip mulch
    • Benefits
      • Great for trees, shrubs, perennial flowers, and small fruits
      • Creates favorable environment for earthworms and soil microorganisms.
  • 11. Wood/bark chip mulch
    • Benefits
      • On shrub and flowerbeds, cuts irrigation need by as much as 50%
        • Note: Does not reduce irrigation need over tree rooting area because only a small portion of the rooting area is typically mulched.
  • 12. Wood/bark chip mulch
    • Benefits
      • Woody chips placed on the surface does not tie up nitrogen
        • Sawdust and very fine chips, when used as a mulch, can tie-up soil nitrogen and can decrease soil oxygen levels.
        • Do not plow wood/back chips into the soil.
  • 13. Wood/bark chip mulch
    • Product selection
      • Primary selection based on desired appearance and cost .
      • Wood chips decompose faster, enriching the soil.
      • Bark chips decompose slower, requiring less frequent replenishment.
  • 14. Wood/bark chip mulch
    • Cedar mulch
      • True cedar ( Cedrus spp.) can be phytotoxic to young plants when sawdust is used a mulch or soil amendment.
      • “Red cedar” chips made from Juniper (Eastern Red Cedar, Juniperus virginiana ) or Arborvitae (Western Red Cedar, Thuja spp.) are NOT phytotoxic.
      • In Colorado, most “cedar” mulch (unless bagged and shipped in from other parts of the country) would be Juniper or Arborvitae.
  • 15. Wood/bark chip mulch application
    • Depth
      • 3” to 4” standard
        • Best weed control
        • Eliminates compaction forces of foot traffic
      • 1-2” for poorly drained soils
        • On compacted/clayey soils with poor drainage, 3-4” may reduce water evaporation so much that susceptible plants develop root rot on wet years and under frequent irrigation
      • >4” -- may reduce soil oxygen levels
  • 16. Wood/bark chip mulch application
    • Around trees
      • Great around trees, protecting from “lawn mower blight”
      • Do NOT make “mulch volcanoes” -- Keep mulch back about 6” from trunk
        • Softens trunk bark when wet
        • Decreases natural trunk taper
      • On newly planted trees, do NOT put chips directly over the root ball.
  • 17. Wood/bark chip mulch application
    • Chips blow in windy areas
      • Shredded type chips more wind resistant
      • Generally not suited for windy areas.
    • Chips float
      • Not suited for area with standing water or heavy surface runoff.
  • 18. Wood/bark chip mulch application
    • Chips over landscape fabric
      • Standard procedure on commercial installations
      • Greater soil improvement with out fabric
      • Weed seeds that germinate above the fabric are difficult to pull.
    • Chips over newspapers
      • Couple of layers of newspaper blocks out light, preventing weed seed germination .
  • 19. Wood/bark chip mulch application
    • Converting lawn to mulch area
      • Standard procedure to spray out grass with Round-up (glyphosate) first. Apply mulch after grass has died.
      • Do not put mulch over growing lawn.
  • 20. Grass clipping mulch
  • 21. Grass clipping mulch
      • Great choice for vegetable and flower beds that are annually cultivated to prepare a seed bed.
        • Adds a small amount of organic matter to soil
  • 22. Grass clipping mulch
      • Apply fresh green clippings only in thin layers, allowing it to dry between applications.
        • Thick layers will mat and stink.
      • Do not use clippings from lawns treated with pesticides for at least 4 weeks after application.
  • 23. Newspaper under mulch
  • 24. Newspaper under mulch
      • A couple of sheets, blocks out light preventing weed seed germination.
      • Do not use more than a couple of layers, the high carbon content can cause a carbon to nitrogen imbalance, creating a nitrogen deficiency.
  • 25. Newspaper under mulch
      • Blow away quickly. Apply immediately before adding chips or grass top layer.
      • Newspapers are printed on soy-based inks, that are safe. Do not use glossy print materials, as their inks may contain heavy metals.
  • 26. Rock mulch with landscape fabric
  • 27. Rock mulch with landscape fabric
    • Great for non-crop areas
    • Doesn’t blow or float away
    • Doesn’t decompose (lower maintenance)
      • Doesn’t build soil tilth
  • 28. Rock mulch with landscape fabric
    • Pea gravel
      • May increase soil temperature, resulting in increased spring-time plant growth.
      • May reduce evaporation from soil surface
  • 29. Rock mulch with landscape fabric
    • Heat sink
      • Raising temperatures (summer “people space” issue)
      • Increasing irrigation requirements
  • 30. Rock mulch with landscape fabric
      • Will interfere with shrub rejuvenation pruning. Basically replace flowering shrubs when they become overgrown and woody.
  • 31. Rock mulch with landscape fabric
      • Not recommended adjacent to lawn areas (safety issue)
      • Not recommended in children’s play areas (safety issue)
  • 32. Rock mulch
      • NEVER use rock over black plastic in plant beds (soil water and oxygen issue)
  • 33.
    • Creating practical turf and non-turf areas
  • 34. Select turf based on actual use of the site.
    • Higher quality =
    • High water demand
    • Expectations?
    • Lower quality =
    • Lower water demand
  • 35. Water-wise lawn care
    • Higher quality =
    • High water demand
    • Expectations?
    • Lower quality =
    • Lower water demand
    • Routine irrigation
      • High performance Bluegrass varieties and turf-type tall fescue
    • Reduced irrigation
      • Reduced inputs Bluegrass varieties and turf-type tall fescue
    • Non-irrigated
      • Buffalograss
      • Blue Grama
  • 36. Water-wise lawn care
    • High water demand
    • Expectations?
    • Low water demand
    • Increased drought tolerance with 3”- 4” mowing height.
    • Spring fertilization decreases drought tolerance.
    • Any grass is intolerant of traffic when under water stress.
  • 37. Water-wise lawn care
    • High water demand
    • Expectations?
    • Low water demand
    During periods of water shortage, reduce expectations.
  • 38. Water-wise gardening is not anti-turf, it is about matching the expectation with the actual use of the site.
    • Grass provides significant environmental and people benefits.
  • 39.
    • Reduces surface runoff
      • An average golf course of 150 acres can absorbs 4 million gallons of water during a 1” rain.
      • Thick turf allows 15 times less runoff than a thin turf.
      • A dense turf can reduce runoff to almost zero.
    Grass protects surface water quality
  • 40.
    • Reduces surface runoff
      • On a slope with good soil tilth, dense sod can absorbs 7.6”/hour compared to 2.4/hour for a thin sod
      • When compared to a non-grass area (like a garden or field) grassy areas reduce soil erosion caused by runoff by 84 to 668 times
    Grass protects surface water quality
  • 41. To protect surface water quality, direct surface runoff onto grass areas allowing for natural filtering in this biologically active turf soil.
  • 42.
    • Traps dust and pollen
    • Reduces noise, summer heat, and glare (improving “people space”)
    • Controls soil erosion by wind
    Grass mitigates pollutions
  • 43.
    • Soil microbial activity breaks down pollutants (such as air contaminants, pesticides and pollen)
    Grass mitigates pollutions
  • 44.
    • It takes 25 square feet of actively growing turf to convert the carbon dioxide, CO 2 , into oxygen, O 2 , needed per person per day.
    Grass converts CO 2 to O 2
  • 45. Actively growing grass turf supports soil microorganism activity, which improves soil structure.
  • 46.
    • Cool, dirt-free play space for children and adults
    Turf is basic to “people space”
  • 47.
    • Element in landscape design
      • Gives unity to the landscape design elements
      • Provides a neutral background setting off flowers and shrubs
    Turf is basic to “people space”
  • 48.
    • Property value and marketability
    • Fire Control
    Other benefits of turf
  • 49. Objective: Match turf with needs of site!
    • Expectations?
  • 50. Kentucky bluegrass does NOT requires heavy irrigation.
    • Standard for high aesthetic value “people space”
      • Seasonal irrigation required = 34” water
  • 51. Kentucky bluegrass does NOT requires heavy irrigation.
    • Water use depends on the expectations, most landscapes are significantly over-watered.
  • 52. Kentucky bluegrass does NOT requires heavy irrigation.
    • Water use depends on the expectations, most landscapes are significantly over-watered.
    • Bluegrass goes dormant under water stress.
    • Makes a great reduced input lawn, allowing it go dormant in hot/dry weather.
  • 53. Kentucky bluegrass does NOT requires heavy irrigation.
    • Water use depends on the expectations, most landscapes are significantly over-watered.
    • Bluegrass goes dormant under water stress.
    • Makes a great reduced input lawn, allowing it go dormant in hot/dry weather.
    • “ Drought-tolerant varieties use 25% less water .
  • 54. Kentucky bluegrass does NOT requires heavy irrigation.
    • Water use depends on the expectations, most landscapes are significantly over-watered.
    • Bluegrass goes dormant under water stress.
    • Makes a great reduced input lawn, allowing it go dormant in hot/dry weather.
    • “ Drought-tolerant varieties use 25% less water.
  • 55. Kentucky bluegrass does NOT requires heavy irrigation.
    • Bottom line
    • It’s not the grass that demands the water, but rather the gardener!
  • 56. Turf-type tall fescue requires irrigation
    • Actual irrigation requirement depends on soil conditions, precipitation, and management style.
    • Actual water use of turf-quality tall fescue is 10% less than turf-quality bluegrass.
    • If conditions allow deeper rooting, it will maintain green color longer between irrigation.
      • Will also require longer irrigation period
    • Tall fescue does not tolerate long-term drought, as it can not go dormant.
  • 57. Turf-type tall fescue requires irrigation
    • Reduced input tall fescue
      • Makes a good reduced input lawn where top quality is not essential for the landscape design.
  • 58. Buffalograss quality is dependant on the amount of rain and irrigation it receives.
    • Turf-quality Buffalograss requires 50% less irrigation per season than bluegrass. This is partly due to being slower to green up in the spring and faster to go dormant in the fall.
    • For turf-quality Buffalograss, the summer (June-August) irrigation requirement is 1”/ week. (By comparison, bluegrass is 1.3”/week.)
    • Dormant brown from early fall to late spring
    • Bunch grass
  • 59. Comparative Annual Water Requirements 0” 5” 10” 15” 20” 25” 30” 35” Turf quality KBG (100% ET) 34”
  • 60. Comparative Annual Water Requirements 0” 5” 10” 15” 20” 25” 30” 35” Turf quality KBG (100% ET) 34” Turf quality Tall Fescue (90% ET) 31”
  • 61. Comparative Annual Water Requirements 0” 5” 10” 15” 20” 25” 30” 35” Turf quality KBG (100% ET) 34” Turf quality Tall Fescue (90% ET) 31” Turf quality Buffalo grass (50% ET) 17”
  • 62. Comparative Annual Water Requirements 0” 5” 10” 15” 20” 25” 30” 35” Turf quality KBG (100% ET) 34” Turf quality Tall Fescue (90% ET) 31” 26” “ Drought tolerant” KBG cultivars (75% ET ) Turf quality Buffalo grass (50% ET) 17”
  • 63. Comparative Annual Water Requirements Turf quality KBG (100% ET) 34” Turf quality Tall Fescue (90% ET) 31” 26” “ Drought tolerant” KBG cultivars (75% ET ) Turf quality Buffalo grass (50% ET) 17” 20” Reduced quality KBG and Tall Fescue watered at 60% ET (grass will thin) 31” Moderate quality KBG and Tall Fescue watered at 80% ET Summer dormant (June-August) KBG (40% ET) 14” 0” 5” 10” 15” 20” 25” 30” 35”
  • 64. Creating practical turf areas and non-turf areas
    • Take home message:
      • Match turf type with use of site.
  • 65. Maintaining with good horticultural practices
    • Healthy plants are more tolerant of insect and disease problems.
    • Healthy plants have fewer insect and disease problems
    • Iron chlorosis, a symptoms of springtime over-watering
  • 66. Summary:
    • 1.
    • 2.
    • 3.
    • 4.
  • 67. 7 Principles of Water-Wise Gardening
    • Planning and design for water conservation, beauty, and utility
    • Improving the soil
    • Creating practical turf and non-turf areas
    • Watering efficiently with appropriate irrigation methods
    • Selecting plants and grouping them according to water need
    • Mulching to reduce evaporation
    • Maintaining with good horticultural practices