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5 Elements for Healthy Turf
by Rick Orr
The basic needs of a turf grass community are food, water, light, air and safety. A turf grass community that is provided for in these ways, has very little stress and thrives.
A Thriving Lawn is a Beautiful Lawn
A thriving lawn is one that chokes out weeds, withstands drought and recovers quickly from trauma. This is a simplistic view as the subject of "food" requires a deep knowledge of soil chemistry and physics as well as mastery of physical and biological chemistry.
But physics and chemistry is for me to know and understand and to use as a means of provide the lawn spraying service. Yet it serves us both well if you know these four elements and understand how these four elements are provided for by lawn spraying. Therefore keep in mind that the reduction or absence of one or more of the elements - food, water, light, air and safety - the plant will be "stressed" .
My philosophy of lawn spraying is "stress elimination" not problem solving - although at times I may solve an acute problem such as a chinch bugs and eliminate the stressor cause -often water stress - but I never just go about attacking problems without solving the causal agent. This philosophy has served me well.
A Closer Look at the Elements
Food - The soil is the stomach of the plant and in practice I am actually feeding the soil, not the plant. The method is to keep the soil (stomach) healthy and the plant is healthy. Often if there is a general health problem in the turf grass community - it is a soil problem. I provide for every known element needed to maintain healthy soil.
Water - A plant can eek out a subsistence existence on little food but will quickly die with the lack of water. Water is perhaps the most easily managed - with irrigation - but also the most critical.
Light - Often blamed for failures -especially under trees - is a minor problem in lawns in Florida. Sunshine is perhaps the easiest to manage - requiring very little attention as it is abundant in Florida. My experience is that lawns are over stimulated by abundant sunshine more often than under stimulated by the lack of sunshine (shade).
Air - Most often ignored but grass needs the air to survive. Plants not only give off Carbon Dioxide, but absorb Oxygen. The most important factor of air is air movement or drainage. Most "air" problems are caused by stagnate air in corners, under trees or other places blocked by fences, plantings or fences eliminating air movement.
Safety - Safety is odd element often not taught in the schools. But it is important to keep your turf safe from predators - insects are predators not pests -from traffic - St Augustine is the least traffic resistant - from spills - such as cleaning fluids, hot charcoals and pool overflows that kill St Augustine grass (Duh) - and from cultural hazards - the most damaging cultural hazard is mowing too close. I, by lawn spraying, directly provide for two of the four elements - food and safety from predators. My regular visits provide nutrients and pest control (safety). I indirectly provide for the remaining elements by education of the other service providers -either paid (Mow Guy) or the owner (DIY). The results are that an unstressed lawn is a healthy lawn and a healthy lawn will reach its highest potential - a lush green and inviting setting for your home.
ILoveTurf.com - July 22nd, 2008