the site well.
stumps, construction materials and other debris.
A minimum depth of good topsoil is 6 inches.
Adjust levels for good surface drainage.
soil pH and adjust to 6.0-7.0 with ground limestone.
to provide a uniform, fine, firm (but not compacted) seed bed for
seed or sod.
starter fertilizer before planting. See GreenShare Factsheet on
Developing a Fertility Program for Lawns
for more information
seed or sod carefully. Inspect sod for diseases, weeds, insects,
overheating, etc. Choose good quality, pathogen-free seed. Disease
and insect-resistant (endophytic) cultivars are now available and
should be included in blends and mixtures. Increasing the genetic
variability in the lawn will reduce the chance for epidemics that
kill large areas. See GreenShare Factsheet on Selection
of Turfgrass for more information.
decisions will affect lawn health. Pruning of tree branches will
increase light penetration, allowing better turfgrass growth. Trees,
shrubs, and other plantings should be placed to allow good air circulation,
ensuring that the turfgrass will dry quickly after rain or dew.
In very shady areas, shade-tolerant grass species or cultivars may
survive, but it is preferable to plant other ground covers. See
GreenShare Factsheet on Growing Turf under
Shaded Conditions for more information.
be planted only in well-prepared soil with good drainage when temperatures
stay in the 60-85 degrees F range to allow rapid germination and
establishment. Keep soil and seed moist, but do not overwater. Overwatering
may result in fungal damping-off diseases.
Apply according to recommendations based on a soil test. Excess
nitrogen will cause succulent growth that is more susceptible to
disease. Examples where excessive nitrogen causes enhanced disease
leaf spot season in early spring,
patch and Pythium blight during hot,
humid summer weather,
molds and winter injury if N applications occur just before
dormancy in fall.
of nitrogen often encourages some turfgrass diseases; examples are
dollar spot, red
thread, pink patch and rust.
Apply the appropriate herbicides according to the label instructions.
Herbicides can stress lawn grasses and may make them more susceptible
to diseases such as leaf spot.
Adjust pH with ground limestone according to recommendations
based on soil test results. Some diseases increase at pH extremes
(too high or too low). For example, lime applied late in autumn
can increase pink snow mold. High soil pH may encourage summer
patch. See GreenShare Factsheet on Liming
for more information.
wounds the leaf blades (allowing fungal entry) and spreads disease-causing
organisms (pathogens) in turfgrasses. Minimize wounding and shredding
of turfgrass leaves by keeping mower blades sharp and adjusted properly.
when grass is dry.
lawns at a height of 2.5-3.0 inches, using the maximum height in
only 1/3 of the total height at each cutting to avoid stressing
in autumn until the grass stops growing.
clippings only if they are excessive and during disease outbreaks.
GreenShare Factsheet on Mowing for more
Water is necessary for good plant growth, but too much water floods
the air pores in the soil, depriving roots of oxygen. Roots will
subsequently die. Many disease-causing fungi reproduce by spores
that, like seeds, need water to germinate. Dry leaf blades reduce
disease by not favoring spore germination and infection by fungi.
infrequently but deeply, to a depth of 6 inches.
early in the day, so the turfgrass will dry quickly.
Night watering after dew appears may help with water conservation
but is not recommended on hot, humid nights because it can increase
some diseases, especially brown patch and Pythium blight.
Avoid light, frequent sprinklings and do not water in the late afternoon
or early evening.
very hot, dry weather, daily watering may be necessary to prevent
wilt and dormancy. Areas along walls, sidewalks and driveways may
also need to be watered more frequently.
GreenShare Factsheet on Efficient Watering
of Turf for more information.
Thatch is an accumulation of decaying organic residues between
the green portion of the grass plant and the soil. When thatch is
more than 1/2 inch thick, it reduces nutrient and water absorption
and harbors insect pests and disease-causing pathogens.
thatch formation by avoiding excessive fertilizer, insecticide,
herbicide and fungicide use. Excessive thatch can only be mechanically
removed. Coring frequently on 2 inch centers is the most effective
Factsheet on Thatch for more information.
In areas of poor turfgrass growth due to compaction, coring
will help aerify the soil and improve turf quality. Compaction is
associated with many turfgrass diseases including necrotic
ring spot, red thread, rust
and summer patch.
from the University of Massachusetts Extension, 1999