Selecting Sod

· Overall good shade tolerance

· Good drought resistance–stays green longer

· Variety of cold tolerances

Common Stresses

· Improper height for variety (varies from 1.5 to 4 inches); allow to grow slightly taller in shaded areas

· Improper mowing–only a quarter of the leaf blade at a time

· Overwatering, high humidity and shade

· Shock–reduce by wetting soil 1 inch prior to installation

· Disease–reduce high nitrogen (N) sources with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer

Weed Management

· Selective control of Bermudagrass and crabgrass

· Restrictions on the use of chemicals (i.e., farm, commercial, and residential uses)

· Blending of weeds better in St. Augustine

Insect Management

· Identifying the pest

· Chinch bugs and lawn caterpillars, such as tropical sod webworms, grubs and fall armyworms.

· Chinch bugs are the most serious insect problem. The damage resembles large dead and/or dry patches in the grass.

· Tropical sod webworm damage has patchy areas that are grayish in color, and often starts near landscaping. “Notching” occurs on the blades of grass, and adults are often resting in a curled position when grass is parted and examined during the day. Fall armyworms show similar damage to the tropical sod webworm, but the damage is more uniform and less patchy. Both can be controlled with numerous contact insecticides and pyrethroids.

6. What is an example of a drought-tolerant turfgrass?

Empire turf is a zoysia grass that uses dormancy as a defense mechanism when water is shut off for an extended period. As soon as the first rain appears or watering is permitted again, Empire’s emerald-green color returns. Now, for grasses that don’t have a drought-tolerant characteristic, going without water for a certain period of time can severely damage or kill the grass. Once a non-drought-tolerant turfgrass turns brown, no amount of watering is going to bring it back to an acceptable quality standard.

Note: The description below is an example of a drought-tolerant zoysia; however, it is not necessarily a representation of all varieties.

Characteristics

· Deep root structure

· Excellent drought tolerance

· Soft to the touch

· Cold-tolerance with fall-color retention

· Traffic tolerance

· Salt tolerance

· Growth habit that inhibits weeds more than St. Augustines

Common Stresses

· Disease–overwatering a contributing factor

· Overfertilizing–excessive N causes thatch buildup

· Mowing above 2 inches causes thatch buildup

· Chemical products–use only those labeled for specific species of zoysia grass

· Harsh herbicides

· Improper grade, creating persistent wetness

Weed Management

· A healthy Empire lawn will inhibit weeds more than a St. Augustine lawn

· Selective control of Bermudagrass and crabgrass

Insect Management

· Identifying the pest

· Hunting billbug, mole crickets and lawn caterpillars, such as tropical sod webworms and fall armyworms

· Billbugs are the most serious insect problem. Symptoms resemble disease and drought, where the turf pulls easily from the soil surface, adult and larval forms are present, sawdust-like frass, and there is evidence of chewing on the stems of the turf.

· Mole cricket damage shows distinct tunneling, and can be controlled on contact with various pyrethroids, or by using timing-based products during peak hatch.

· Tropical sod webworm damage has patchy areas that are grayish in color, and often starts near landscaping. “Notching” occurs on the blades of grass, and adults are often resting in a curled position when grass is parted and examined during the day. Fall armyworms show similar damage to the tropical sod webworm, but the damage is more uniform and less patchy. Both can be controlled with numerous contact insecticides and pyrethroids.

In years past I recall discussing with associates the chemical and environmental stresses that turfgrasses face. However, it appears that cultural stresses, while always present, have only recently been defined. What types of stresses fall under this classification and why?

“Cultural stressors” are the various maintenance-related stresses to turf. Examples include fertility practices, overwatering, improper mowing and allowing turf to sit on a pallet and build up heat. A few ways to reduce cultural stresses are to follow proper best-management practices or BMPs. For example, the proper BMPs for Empire zoysia grass are:

· Three pounds of N per 1,000 square feet per year

· Iron sources for color

· Avoiding ”wet feet” by watering ¾ of an inch once a week

· Mowing at 1 to 2 inches, but slightly taller in shaded areas

It is widely accepted as a best practice that when laying new sod, a smooth grade, pre-irrigation and reducing pallet time all aid in a successful installation. What are some other BMPs during or after installation that should be adhered to?

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