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Show #27/3701
Lawn Care

Summary of Show

Grass For A Southern Environment

In a SOUTHERN ENVIRONMENT the main grasses will be Zoysia, which is what they're standing on, St. Augustine, Bermuda as well as Centipede grass. All have their requirements and all have their own set of problems. One of the primary concerns is how much shade your lawn receives. St. Augustine handles shade very well, probably one of the best. Zoysia and Bermuda don't do that well in shady conditions.
For More Information Click here

Grass For Cooler Environments

We have discussed the criteria for selecting the right grass for warmer areas but what should we do in cooler parts of the country? If in a COOLER AREA of the country you will obviously want a cool season turf. These include your Fescues, Kentucky Blue Grass, some rye grasses.
For More Information Click here

Sprigged, Plugged or Sodded

Many grasses are available by seed while other grasses can only be sodded or plugged. All warm season grasses are typically going to be sprigged, plugged or sodded. Seeds are available for most cool season grasses which makes it more economical and practical. Hydro seeding is a good option. Warm season grasses are more limited in the way they can be planted.


National Turf Grass Evaluation Program
National Turfgrass Evaluation Program - WELCOME

For More Information Click here

AERATION

One of the issues Jeff must deal with and most homeowners must deal with is soil compaction. Here they have golf carts driving over the grass causing compaction. Jeff has just AERATED the grass. When doing this he is looking for several things. First is better water infiltration, it allows more oxygen down to the roots and better gas exchange. Grass is like any other plant it needs air, light and water. So it needs to be opened up for gas exchange, air movement and water penetration.
For More Information Click here

Dethatcher

If you can't aerify use a DETHATCHER which he also suggests doing at least once a year, in the fall. It will remove the thatch, allowing better water penetration. With thatch build up water goes into the thatch which acts like a sponge and holds the water. This causes more disease. De-thatching is the right thing to do especially if over seeding with a cool season grass.
For More Information Click here

Weeds, Disease And Insects

On of the most popular questions on our web site is - How do we control WEEDS, DISEASE AND INSECTS in turf? Jeff has some practical advice. First, the most effective way to combat these issues is to have healthy turf. A healthy turf is your number 1 preventative for weeds. Cultural practices such as good drainage and good airflow will prevent a lot of diseases. No grass is perfect but being proactive is a better way to attack these problems rather than having to react to them. Healthy plants typically don't attract disease and insects.
For More Information Click here

Diagnose Insect Damage

Oftentimes Jeff encounters the presence of an insect that is doing some kind of damage to the root system. It's hard to tell from the top side what is burrowing under the grass. And he has a great diagnostic tool that is helpful in determining what is doing the damage. Jeff shows Eric an area that has INSECT DAMAGE. To diagnose what pest is causing the issue he has a trick. Take several tablespoons of dish detergent, for some reason lemon scent seems to work particularly well, mix it in a bucket of water, then just pour it on the area that appears to have a problem.
For More Information Click here

Soil Testing

One step often overlooked in the landscape is getting a good understanding as to what is going on in the soil. This is especially important when opening up a site about to be developed. Understanding the fertility of the soil, what the PH is should be a normal matter of course. Understanding how much salt has built up in the soil, or how the PH has shifted on the basis of some kind of fertilizer is important information. Jeff tells us what they do here as far as SOIL TESTING. To perform soil tests they have a soil probe. They then select 8 to 10 areas in the lawn. It's important to not take the sample from the same spot or same area because there may be subtle differences around your lawn.
For More Information Click here

Fertilize

And, there is one very important piece to the puzzle we need to put in place before we have a really solid lawn maintenance program. And, that, of course, is FERTILITY. We just did our soil test and got the results. Now let's look at a fertilizer bag, it has exact numbers on it but what do those numbers mean? The numbers are in percentages. In this case we have 13% nitrogen, 2% phosphorous and 13% potassium. Every fertilizer bag has numbers that represent nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
For More Information Click here

 

LINKS:

Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce
Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce|

Boca Grande Real Estate
Boca Grande Real Estate, Inc. | Real Estate Sales & Vacation Rentals

Gasparilla Inn & Club
The Gasparilla Inn & Club : Home

Plant List

 

3701. Lawn Care

Transcript of Show

In this episode GardenSMART visits a century old, historic golf course. It's a great place to learn about new ideas and tips for getting the most out of our turf.

Eric has been to Florida on many occasions but has never visited Boca Grande. To learn more he interviews Lew Hastings the Executive Director of The Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce. Lew walks Eric through the Island. First, one needs to know Boca Grande is located about halfway between Sarasota and Ft. Myers. It's a tiny barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico about 7 and 1/2 miles long and 3/4 of a mile wide at the widest point, It was founded as a port for phosphates over 100 years ago. Over the years many famous people have visited. People like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Zane Grey and Ernest Hemmingway, all came in search of the silver king and to fish the beautiful waters of Boca Grande Pass and Charlotte Harbor. When crossing the bridge one immediately notices the water looks like the Caribbean with blues and greens and beautiful white beaches. Every year they have a tarpon fishing tournament, known as the worlds richest tarpon tournament. Their 3 tenants are conservation, education and sportsmanship. They want to teach people to go out and fish for these big fish but do it responsibly. There is much to see and much to enjoy in Boca Grande. Eric agrees it is a beautiful island and wants to see more.

Eric next meets Jeff Strother the Golf Course Superintendent at the Gasparilla Inn. Eric knows very well that for people interested in turf management being the superintendent of one of these beautiful resort golf courses is a plum job. Thus Eric wants to know how Jeff got started. Jeff recounts, he started at an early age, his dad was a farmer, thus he was driving tractors and harvesting crops as a kid. He got away from all that when he went to college. But he couldn't find anything he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He loved the game of golf and Sand Hills College was near his hometown, they had a very reputable turf management program so decided to go there. He started in landscape gardening but towards the end switched to turf maintenance. He interned and worked at Pinehurst for several years, then headed to Kiawah Island outside Charleston. There they planted a variety of Seashore Paspalum, a newer grass that is the most salt tolerant in use today. And that is why he came here. This is a very well established, storied course that is almost a century old. The Inn was started in 1913, the golf course was built in the early 30's by Barron Collier, the architect is unknown. There had been some minor changes along the way but nothing major. In 2004 architect Pete Dye came in and totally renovated the golf course. Before it was flat, no undulations and no drainage. Dye came in and planted Seashore Paspalum a salt tolerant variety of turf grass perfect for this location due to the location on the Gulf. So in 2004 when Jeff arrived the course had just been redone. And, it's in great shape today. The average golf course is anywhere from 70 to over 100 acres thus the type of turf is very important. Boca Grande is an island and the golf course is on its own island. So its a very high saline environment. They water with effluent water, sometimes brackish water. Seashore Paspalum was developed at the University of Georgia but the story goes back to slave ships that brought the grass over as bedding in the ships. When they got to port they would throw the grass overboard and in places it would root. It obviously survived the coast, it does well in a salt environment. This grass is a little coarser and more textured, it reminds Eric of Poana Grass. It's definitely different than Bermuda Grass which is the typical warm season grass on a golf course. It does play a little differently but great for this situation.

Turf grass, not unlike any other plant, has certain regions where it likes to grow best. Certain grasses are basically designed more for warm seasons, other grasses more for cooler climates. They talk about the type grass a homeowner should be trying depending on where one lives. In a SOUTHERN ENVIRONMENT the main grasses will be Zoysia, which is what they're standing on, St. Augustine, Bermuda as well as Centipede grass. All have their requirements and all have their own set of problems. One of the primary concerns is how much shade your lawn receives. St. Augustine handles shade very well, probably one of the best. Zoysia and Bermuda don't do that well in shady conditions. Depending on the amount of shade and your micro climate you want to select the correct grass. There is a big textural difference between these grasses. Centipede and St. Augustine tend to be more coarse textured and more springy whereas Bermuda and Zoysia tend to be more like an athletic field. Thus the activities on the grass are an important consideration. Bermuda grass is the number 1 grass for athletic fields in the south. If your lawn will be used for athletic activities it's best to stay away from St. Augustine Grass. But if you have a situation where you have a shady back lawn, yet full sun in the front you might want to try Bermuda. Or Bermuda or Centipede in the front lawn and Zoysia or St. Augustine in the back. In most parts of Florida they have a nice sandy loam soil but in parts of the southeast it's more compacted, a red clay. For more compacted soils one is limited to the same type of grasses but Bermuda will work well. A Zoysia would also work well but fertility then becomes an issue. The clay will hold more nutrients meaning you could get away with a little less fertilization than with a sandy soil. The sandy soil tends to leach, certainly have more potential to leach.

We have discussed the criteria for selecting the right grass for warmer areas but what should we do in cooler parts of the country? If in a COOLER AREA of the country you will obviously want a cool season turf. These include your Fescues, Kentucky Blue Grass, some rye grasses. A great resource for selecting the type of grass is the National Turf Grass Evaluation Program website (see link below). There you can select your state, it shows the different seed varieties and evaluates them. Different years will have different scores allowing one to really hone in on a good variety for your area.

Many grasses are available by seed while other grasses can only be sodded or plugged. All warm season grasses are typically going to be SPRIGGED, PLUGGED OR SODDED. Seeds are available for most cool season grasses which makes it more economical and practical. Hydro seeding is a good option. Warm season grasses are more limited in the way they can be planted. In many parts of the country we see the use of cool season and warm season grasses used together. Oftentimes these grasses will be seeded on top of one another. This is referred to as over seeding. If in a transitional area, somewhere around North or South Carolina into Georgia one can over seed. If you want a warm season grass but it will turn dormant in the winter and you still want some color throughout the winter you can over seed with Rye Grass. That is what they're on. This field has perennial Rye Grass on top of Seashore Paspalum. They don't necessarily need to over seed here because the Papalum stays green but this is a soccer field and a dog park, so it gets a little more traffic. So they over seed with Rye just to handle the wear and tear. For more information on the grass right for you click here.

National Turfgrass Evaluation Program - WELCOME

One of the issues Jeff must deal with and most homeowners must deal with is soil compaction. Here they have golf carts driving over the grass causing compaction. Jeff has just AERATED the grass. When doing this he is looking for several things. First is better water infiltration, it allows more oxygen down to the roots and better gas exchange. Grass is like any other plant it needs air, light and water. So it needs to be opened up for gas exchange, air movement and water penetration. The machine they use is more for a golf course. A homeowner can rent, at the local hardware store, an aerifier. Jeff suggests doing that once a year, not really more than that.

If you can't aerify use a DETHATCHER which he also suggests doing at least once a year, in the fall. It will remove the thatch, allowing better water penetration. With thatch build up water goes into the thatch which acts like a sponge and holds the water. This causes more disease. De-thatching is the right thing to do especially if over seeding with a cool season grass. It will help create a denser stand over the winter time. So the combination of aeration and de-thatching allows the roots and tops to breathe better. Even if you don't think you have a compaction issue bear in mind that a lot of residential compaction is caused by irrigation and rain.

The guys are looking at the results of Jeff's aeration. They are pulling 2 inch plugs, about as big as your pinky. This will encourage new root growth. After this they will rake the plugs/loose dirt back into the holes. A homeowner even with a rotary mower can go back over the plugs, chop them up, maybe go back over with a bagger and pick up the actual grass, the organic stuff. It's a good tool and will definitely help achieve a much nicer lawn. And if you top seed then it would be a good time to put down your top seed when aerating. Brush the soil, even sand back into the holes and on top of the seed because soil to soil contact is very critical. If you remove some of the thatch and put your seed down you will get really good soil to soil contact which will result in a much nicer finished product.

On of the most popular questions on our web site is - How do we control WEEDS, DISEASE AND INSECTS in turf? Jeff has some practical advice. First, the most effective way to combat these issues is to have healthy turf. A healthy turf is your number 1 preventative for weeds. Cultural practices such as good drainage and good airflow will prevent a lot of diseases. No grass is perfect but being proactive is a better way to attack these problems rather than having to react to them. Healthy plants typically don't attract disease and insects. If you look at a landscape, generally the plant that has insects all over it was weakened by some other kind of environmental stress. In regards to weeds look at how tight this turf is. It will be really hard for seeds to find a good place to germinate. So having a nice, vibrant, healthy growing environment is great for preventing weeds, disease and insects.

Pre-emerging herbicides can be used for weeds. Even a healthy lawn will get diseases here and there. Jeff suggests the one thing he thinks most effective is to get the weed identified as soon as possible. Your local University laboratory is an excellent resource. It may cost a little more upfront but will still be cheaper in the long run.

Oftentimes Jeff encounters the presence of an insect that is doing some kind of damage to the root system. It's hard to tell from the top side what is burrowing under the grass. And he has a great diagnostic tool that is helpful in determining what is doing the damage. Jeff shows Eric an area that has INSECT DAMAGE. To diagnose what pest is causing the issue he has a trick. Take several tablespoons of dish detergent, for some reason lemon scent seems to work particularly well, mix it in a bucket of water, then just pour it on the area that appears to have a problem. The insect will come to the surface at which point you can make a definitive identification of the culprit. Jeff walks us through the process. His assistant, Steve, pours the water on the troublesome spot. It typically takes anywhere from 1 to 4 minutes for the insects to appear. Jeff in this location typically finds mole crickets, army worms, sod web worms or nematodes. Nematodes are the worst in the south because they are microscopic and can really cause damage. At this problem area a mole cricket fairly quickly appears. He is fairly small which leads Jeff to believe that he was hatched in the ground. Now that we know what the culprit is we can correctly choose how to deal with the issue. Eric thinks this is a great tip.

One step often overlooked in the landscape is getting a good understanding as to what is going on in the soil. This is especially important when opening up a site about to be developed. Understanding the fertility of the soil, what the PH is should be a normal matter of course. Understanding how much salt has built up in the soil, or how the PH has shifted on the basis of some kind of fertilizer is important information. Jeff tells us what they do here as far as SOIL TESTING. To perform soil tests they have a soil probe. They then select 8 to 10 areas in the lawn. It's important to not take the sample from the same spot or same area because there may be subtle differences around your lawn. The plugs should be from 2 to 4 inches deep. Don't include the grass part on the top, instead get samples from the root zone, where the roots are actively taking up nutrients. Go around the yard and get your soil plugs for the test. Then send those plugs to a laboratory, a local university is a great option. The test will detail PH for example. If PH is too high that would block certain nutrients from the plant. The test will also show the need for lime and how much should be added. If you don't have a fancy soil probe like Jeff you could just use a hand trowel or a small shovel. Just pull the same type swath from different parts of your yard for the representative samples. Eric wonders if our viewers don't have a chemistry degree how will they interpret the results they get back from the soil sample? Jeff says most of us don't have chemistry degrees thus the lab will usually include some recommendations at the bottom of the report. Or you could go over the results with your country extension agent. There are lots of web sites, turf forums, where people will gladly look at your data and make recommendations. So, don't be discouraged that you can't interpret the results yourself there are people out there that will help.

And, there is one very important piece to the puzzle we need to put in place before we have a really solid lawn maintenance program. And, that, of course, is FERTILITY. We just did our soil test and got the results. Now let's look at a fertilizer bag, it has exact numbers on it but what do those numbers mean? The numbers are in percentages. In this case we have 13% nitrogen, 2% phosphorous and 13% potassium. Every fertilizer bag has numbers that represent nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. So in our case let's say our test recommended that we need a pound of potassium per thousand. So with a little math we know that if we want 1 pound of potassium with 13% product we will want to put out 7.6 pounds of fertilizer per square feet. Many times we calibrate our spreader for half of that then go in 2 directions, meaning we alleviate some skips and overlaps. But for the consumer they make it easier. The spreaders we buy have a dial that shows what the setting is, so one can match them up. It takes the guess work out of fertilizer. Jeff likes to be more exact but for the typical homeowner spreaders make it easy to feed the yard. So once we know how much we need to put down, how often do we put it out and is there a better time of year to fertilize? Jeff tells us that generally it's better to put it out during the growing season. That's when the roots are actively taking up nutrients meaning there will be less potential for runoff. Most consumer programs are set up for spring, late spring, summer and fall. But a good rule of thumb is during the growing season.

Eric comments that many times fertilizers get a bad rap for environmental reasons, for example, runoff that ends in streams, etc. Jeff feels there is definitely potential for that. Always leave an 8 to 10 foot buffer if fertilizing adjacent to a body of water. And you will want to water your fertilizer in with a quarter inch of water with your irrigation system. We have all heard that you want to fertilize before it rains but you really don't because if it rains too hard that is when runoff will occur.

Eric feels Jeff has given us some great tips and armed us with the information needed for a beautiful lawn all year long. Eric thanks Jeff for joining us and for showing us and our audience his amazing back yard. Jeff has enjoyed the day and welcomes Eric back.

 

LINKS:

Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce
Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce|

Boca Grande Real Estate
Boca Grande Real Estate, Inc. | Real Estate Sales & Vacation Rentals

Gasparilla Inn & Club
The Gasparilla Inn & Club : Home

Plant List


   
   
 
   
   
   
   
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