Turfgrass selection is arguably the most important factor
in developing and maintaining a high quality, problem-free
turf. Selection should be based on the environment, expected
turf use, and expected management intensity. Turf "certified"
by the Georgia Crop
Improvement Association as to varietal purity, freedom
from noxious weeds, and documented by the blue certified tag should be used.
ESTABLISHMENT: The three
phases of establishment are 1) soil preparation, 2) proper
planting, and 3) maintenance for two to four weeks after planting.
Cool-season grasses are best established in the fall four
to six weeks before the first killing frost date. The best
time to plant warm-season grasses is during early summer, once soil temperature at the 4-inch depth is consistently above 65°F. Visit www.GeorgiaWeather.net to find local climatic conditions.
MOWING: Proper mowing involves
cutting the grass at the recommended height and often enough
to prevent scalping. This means removing no more than one
third of the total leaf surface in a mowing. So, if a turf
is being cut at two inches, mow it when it reaches three inches.
Not removing clippings and allowing them to naturally filter
down into the turf recycles nutrients, is environmentally
sound, saves time, saves energy, and saves landfill space.
Generally raising the mowing height during periods of stress
helps maintain turf vigor.
IRRIGATION: Turfgrass water needs depend on grass species, maintenance level, soil type, and weather. Proper irrigation means waiting to irrigate when the turfgrass shows signs of moisture stress, such as a bluish-gray color. Most established turfgrasses require about 1-inch of water per week during the active growth season. Supplemental irrigation should soak the soil to a six to eight inch depth. Multiple start times may be needed to prevent runoff and improve irrigation efficiency on clay based soils. Likewise, two, ½-inch applications are better on sandy soils. The most efficient and effective time to irrigate is after sunset and before sunrise. Irrigating at this time will not increase disease problems.
FERTILIZATION: Depend on
soil test analysis to determine the best fertilizer grade,
rate and time of application. Generally, turfgrasses require
one-half to one pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet per
month of active growth. Excess nitrogen increases plant growth
which means more frequent mowing, increased plant water needs,
thatch formation, and possibly insect and disease problems.
||Annual Nitrogen Rate
||(lbs. per 1000 ft2)
||2 to 5
||1 to 2
||2 to 5
||2 to 5
||2 to 3
||2 to 4
*Clippings do not contribute to thatch under
proper management and do not need to be removed. Also, recycling
clippings decreases fertilizer needs by 30 percent.
LIMING: Apply lime according
to soil test recommendations. Fall is the preferred time of
application because winter rainfall helps dissolve the lime
into the soil. However, lime can be applied any time and dolomitic
lime is generally recommended.
CULTIVATION: Common cultivation
practices include coring, spiking and vertical mowing. Coring
is the best method to reduce soil compaction and improve water
infiltration. Coring is most effective using hollow or spoon-type
tines which remove plugs of soil two to three inches deep
and ½ to ¾ inch in diameter. The cores
may be removed or broken-up and worked back into the turf
by dragging or shattering and thus serving as topdressing.
Turf recovery rate can be improved with a fertilizer application
10 to 14 days prior to cultivation.
CONTROL: If the thatch layer is thicker than one-half
inch turf vigor can be reduced. Thatch is most effectively
controlled by topdressing with a one-fourth inch layer of
topsoil. Thatch can also be reduced by vertical mowing. Vertical
mowing should be done when the turf is actively growing and
at least 30 days before the "first killing frost date".
Vertical mowing should be avoided during periods of temperature
and moisture stress, during periods of weed seed germination,
or when a preemergence herbicide has been used.
turfgrasses can be overseeded with cool-season grasses (ryegrass or rough bluegrass)
to provide year-long green color. This type overseeding is
usually done two to four weeks prior to the first fall temperature
date of 32°F. The bermudagrasses tolerate overseeding best,
while it is difficult to get a uniform overseeding in centipedegrass
and zoysiagrass turfs. However, overseeding can be problematic
for any turfgrass species, especially turf already weak from
improper management. Common warm-season grass problems associate
with overseeded turfs are weak stands due to competition with
the overseeding species and delayed spring green-up.
RENOVATION: Turfgrass renovation
is needed when a turf declines to the point that normal management
and cultural practices are not enough to revive the turf but
complete re-establishment is not needed. Generally, if 50
percent or more of the area contains desirable turf, renovation
will work. Renovate at the start of the growing season.
PEST CONTROL: Good lawn
management can help reduce pest problems. When pest control
is needed; (1) identify the pest problem, (2) determine if cultural or other management practices are best suited for control (3) select the chemical
recommended to control the pest, (4) be sure the turfgrass
will tolerate the chemical and (5) apply the chemical according
to label recommendations. Proper timing of pesticide application
is needed for effective and efficient pesticide use.
WEED CONTROL: Preemergence
herbicides should be applied before weed emergence. Recommended
dates of application for crabgrass and other annual grasses
are February 15 to March 5 in South Georgia and March 1 to
March 20 in North Georgia. These dates typically correlate
to soil temperatures which are below 55 F, the temperature
at which crabgrass will germinate. Recommended dates for annual
bluegrass and selected winter annual broadleaf weed control
are September 1 to September 15 in North Georgia and October
1 to October 15 in South Georgia. Apply postemergence herbicides
to small, actively-growing weeds at air temperatures between
60 F. and 90 F. Applications to turf stressed by high temperature
or drought increases the possibility of injury and usually
results in poor weed control. Atrazine or simazine can be
applied to warm-season turfgrasses for preemergence and/or
postemergence control of annual bluegrass and selected winter
annual broadleaf weeds from November through February. Avoid
all postemergence herbicide applications during spring green-up
of warm-season turfgrasses.
Turfgrass Weed Web site
DISEASE CONTROL: The development
and maintenance of a healthy, vigorous plant through proper
turf management is the best method of disease prevention.
Proper fertilization and irrigation are very important disease
prevention practices. If a disease is suspected, identification
of the disease is needed before treatment can be recommended. (http://plantpath.caes.uga.edu/
INSECT CONTROL: Of the many insects and related species living within a turfgrass canopy, very few cause damage. Some insects, such as white grubs and mole crickets, live in the soil and damage turfgrass roots. Others, such as armyworms and chinch bugs, feed on grass leaves and stems by chewing or sucking plant juices. When damage is apparent, and insecticide may be needed.