Have you ever given thought to the health of the soil beneath your turf as being the most important item on your healthy-turf checklist? Is it realistic to expect your turf to perform to high expectations without looking at the overall condition of the soil that it’s supposed to thrive in?
We are all guilty of judging the quality of our turf by how ‘rich’ the greens are. Or by how ‘thick’ or ‘lush’ they appear. So the real question is, “How do I get there?!”
Let’s talk about the key to achieving healthy turf.
Start with a soil report. Knowing what nutrients are in the soil, plant available/tied up, organic matter content and how they all relate to one another to increase plant health is what soil reports are designed to do. Having a soil report is like having a starting line of soil health and can act as a report card to see the progression of how your soils are being managed. It is important to get several samples to get an overall snapshot of not only the troubled areas, but also the above average conditions to see your soils are responding in micro climate areas. These are very cost effective methods of ensuring that your fertility dollars are being well spent. Knowing the history of products applied and when they were applied is just as vital to interpreting and understanding the data from the soil report. Your soil report will show what nutrients are available, deficient, and in excess. Having this information allows the turf specialist the ability to customize a soil fertility amendment program custom to your needs giving you sustainable healthy turf that looks great saves you money in the long-run.
These types of amendments and cultural practice shifts are ones that take a full season or two before the true benefits can be measured. However, once the program is followed and well established, the results are truly outstanding. Fewer weed infestation, fewer insect populations, deeper/denser root masses, less thatch accumulation, and better utilization of nutrients that were before unavailable to the plants.
Now let’s talk about water!
Everything we see above the ground all starts just below the surface. Most soils are in some respects “dysfunctional” at various times of year as plants and turf are either over-watered, or under-watered.
As water becomes more precious of a resource, irrigation manufacturers have developed technologies to be incorporated into irrigation systems to maximize efficiency and minimize waste.
With irrigation it is so important to ensure that proper approaches are being utilized to achieve the best results in the most economical way possible. Certain areas of a property may best be served by having drip line irrigation while other areas to have pop-up style heads and emitters. These are all important as various different plant materials and turf all require varying amounts of water and need to have the proper delivery method to ensure they grow and thrive in their locations. Remember, roots grow in oxygen, not water.
Weather stations and water sensors are now becoming the norm for irrigation system installers. Your irrigation system installer/service provider should be informing you that these technologies exist. These resource saving tools can also be applied to retrofit any current system that is looking for an upgrade. Irrigation audits on older systems are also an excellent way to ensure the system is still operating at peak performance.
In the end, with a basic, balanced cultural approach to turf, irrigation, and soil health, we can make best use of what nature has provided. What isyour water telling you?
I think it’s time to talk with your turf!