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Turf Talk


Jump to: At the Root of Healthy Turfs | Atlanta Turf Conditions: Spring 2010 | Is Your Turf Stressed Out?
Common Turfs: The Grass Isn't Always Greener | Top Dressing for Turf


Regular features: Plant of the Month | Customer Spotlight




At the Root of Healthy Turfs

When you see a turf that is green and healthy, you can be certain that its root system has been cared for properly.

Strong root systems are the focus of Simply Green, NatureScapes’ turf management partner, and all properties managed by NatureScapes benefit from its “technical turf services.”  These services, which include fertilization, chemical treatments, and weed control, build and maintain healthy roots.  The results are what you see above ground – vibrant turfs.

There are five main factors that impact turf health: light, temperature, water, nutrition and weed control.  Mother Nature controls light, temperature and water, although supplemental water can be added with an irrigation system as needed.  Simply Green controls nutrition and weeds.  All five factors work together, and neglecting any factor that is controllable weakens not only roots but the look of turf as well.

Proactive service keeps Simply Green steps ahead of seasonal turf problems.  Treatments applied in the spring will minimize or eliminate potential turf damage caused by summertime insects and diseases.  Treatments applied in the fall and winter will control spring turf weeds.

NatureScapes customers should notice a Simply Green vehicle on their property five times a year, or more often as needed.



Atlanta Turf Conditions: Spring 2010

Bermuda grass is known for its vitality especially in the heat of summer.  However, Bermuda turfs stayed dormant longer this spring and many were thin and color deficient.  The underperformance was most likely due to root damage caused by the last couple of years of weather extremes including drought, flooding and a colder than normal winter.  If your turf is currently cared for by Simply Green, NatureScapes’ turf management partner, it has been given the proper care and feeding of nutrients needed to nurse the root systems back to optimum health.

Fescue grass that was cared for properly in the fall produced another season of lush, green turfs throughout Atlanta this spring.  The cooler temperatures and rainfall, coupled with continuous fertilization programs, have helped it perform well.  With the return of consistently high temperatures, irrigation systems will be working overtime to keep fescue in Atlanta beautiful throughout the summer months.



Is Your Turf Stressed Out?

High temperatures and dry conditions are bad enough for your turf, but add the insects and diseases that come with summer, and your lawn could be in need of help.

Indications that turf is stressed include discoloration or footprints that remain in the turf after it has been walked on.  If insects or diseases are present, brown or straw-colored patches or chewed grass blades may be also noticeable.

The best way to avoid turf stress is to stop it before it starts.  Proper watering, mowing and fertilization produce a healthier turf that is less susceptible to stress and disease.

Watering:  Turf needs 1-1.5 inches of water per week from rainfall or irrigation.  Do not overwater, and remember that rainwater is better for your landscape than irrigation water.

Mowing:  No more than one-third of the grass blade should be removed with each mowing.  Mower blades should be sharp so the tips of grass don’t shred.  Damaged tips create openings for disease.

Fertilizing:  Regular applications of fertilizer will help protect turf from insects and disease.  It is vital that turf feedings be done at the right time of year.  Warm-season turf should not be fertilized during dormancy and cool-season turf should not be fertilized in the middle of summer.

Lastly, in addition to a regular maintenance program, one more way to avoid turf stress is to have the right type of turf for your property’s conditions.  A property that offers no shade is ideal for warm-season turf, such as Bermuda or Zoysia.  A shaded property can handle cool-season turf, such as fescue.  If the property is a combination of sun and shade, Bermuda with larger pine straw beds in the shade, or shade-loving groundcover, is the best bet.  Mixing turf is never recommended because different types of turf can differ in color, texture and height.



Common Turfs: The Grass Isn't Always Greener

What makes a turf variety popular in the southeast is typically its ability to withstand hot and dry conditions.  This type of turf is classified as warm season, which means once the turf is established, you most likely will save on watering costs to keep it looking good throughout the summer.  However, after the temperature drops in the fall, this turf will be a shade of brown through early spring.  If you prefer greener grass year-round, warm-season turf is not for you.  Just know that the expense of maintaining a cool-season turf, such as fescue, will be costly in the summer, especially if the turf areas are in full sun.  Following are the turfs most common in the Atlanta area.

  Season Characteristics Advantages Disadvantages
Bermuda
Warm
  • Medium texture (hybrid is fine)
  • Low growing
  • Fast establishment rate
  • Excellent drought and heat tolerance
  • Low water use
  • Poor shade tolerance
  • Invasive growth habit
  • Difficult to remove once established
Zoysia
Warm
  • Fine texture
  • Low and dense
  • Tolerates some drought conditions
  • Excellent heat tolerance
  • Requires more water than Bermuda
  • Slow establishment rate
  • Fair shade tolerance
  • Slow to recover from heavy traffic
Tall Fescue
Cool
  • Course texture
  • Dark green color
  • Tall
  • Medium to fast establishment rate
  • Good shade tolerance
  • Non-invasive
  • Requires more water during hot and dry conditions
  • Not ideal for southern properties



Top Dressing for Turf

With the proper care, your turf can be as beautiful as a well-maintained golf course.  To achieve a more level and lush lawn, consider having your property’s turf top dressed.  Following are answers to frequently asked questions about top dressing.  To find out if top dressing is a good option for your turf, call your NatureScapes account manager for more information.  If you’re not a current customer, call 770.923.7023.

What is top dressing?

Top dressing is the process of adding a thin layer of material to the turf’s surface to create a more level appearance.

What are the benefits of top dressing?
  1. Produces a smooth, level surface
  2. Eliminates visible bumps, dips, cracks and gaps
  3. Enhances soil and turf health
  4. Improves drainage and moisture retention
  5. Reduces layers of thatch
  6. Stimulates growth and improves color of Bermuda and Zoysia
What materials are used in top dressing?

Top dressing is a combination of sand and topsoil or sand and organic matter.

What’s the best time to put down top dressing?

The optimal time to put down top dressing is after aerating because the top dressing can also help enrich the soil.  For warm-season turf, May and June are optimal, though anytime throughout the summer is good.  For cool-season turfs, the best time to top dress is in the fall.

Do you have to aerate before top dressing?

Due to the clay soil in Georgia, it is strongly recommended that you aerate prior to top dressing your turf.



Customer Spotlight:
Vickery Village

“NatureScapes' excellent service, prompt response and professionalism matches no other.  Thank you for a job well done.”

- Michael Workman, CMCA
Portfolio Manager
Community One Associates





Plant of the Month: Oakleaf Hydrangea

One of the few hydrangeas native to the United States is the oakleaf hydrangea, aptly named for its large oak-shaped leaves.  This deciduous shrub has an up-right growth habit and produces an impressive floral display of creamy white flowers in late spring and early summer.  The fall brings a dazzling display of color as the leaves turn shades of purple, bronze or red; and exfoliating bark provides winter interest.  Unlike other varieties, the oakleaf hydrangea can thrive in dryer, sunnier locations; however, it does require well-drained, slightly acidic soil.  Pruning is rarely necessary unless the shrub suffers damage.