Best Practices

A lawn that is healthy and well-established can out-compete most weeds and withstand a certain amount of stress from drought, insects, and disease.

Lawns can often be renovated simply by improving management such as proper fertilization, mowing, watering, and addressing problems with thatch and soil compaction.

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When establishing a turf stand, choose species that are well-adapted to the site and management objectives. Disease and insect resistant cultivars of most turf species are available and should be used as the basis for an integrated pest management program. Promote genetic diversity when seeding by blending and mixing high-quality, certified seed purchased from a reputable source.


A balanced fertility program, based on the results of soil tests, will improve the vigor of grass and the ability to resist disease. Nitrogen fertilizers can have a significant effect on disease potential. Excessive applications of highly soluble nitrogen fertilizers can stimulate many diseases. Excessive applications promote succulent tissue that is easily penetrated by many fungi. Conversely, turf grasses grown in nutrient poor soils are susceptible to several other diseases. Applications of recommended amounts of nitrogen to deficient turf will stimulate the turf grass to produce leaves faster than the fungus can blight them.


Regular mowing is necessary to maintain the aesthetic qualities of a turf stand. However, mowing may favor disease by creating wounds through which a pathogen may enter and, in some cases, by providing the pathogen with a means of dissemination. Frequent mowing at improper heights consistently removes the most photo synthetically active tissue. This reduces carbohydrate production and limits the natural ability of turf grasses to resist infection. Remove no more than 1/3 of the leaf tissue at each mowing. Keep mower blades sharp in order to encourage rapid healing of the cut grass. Mow turf when dry,especially when diseases are present. Mow at the recommended heights and raise the mowing height when the turf is under stress or displaying disease symptoms. Leaving clippings on the turf will prevent their introduction into the solid waste stream, will reduce yearly nitrogen needs, and will not contribute to thatch accumulation or disease development


Free moisture is essential for disease progression. Turf grasses grown under wet conditions develop succulent tissues that are easily penetrated by fungi. Water-logged soils inhibit gas exchange and result in dysfunctional roots. Drought stressed turf lacks vigor and is prone to disease. Deep, infrequent irrigation, only to avoid drought stress, will maintain the turf in good vigor and reduce the impact of many diseases. Water early in the morning to allow the leaves to dry before nightfall. Selective pruning of trees and shrubs around a turf area will promote light penetration and air circulation, which will also reduce humidity in the turf canopy.


Excessive thatch accumulation restricts root growth and favors drought stress. Many turf grass pathogens survive as saprophytes in the thatch layer. Soil compaction also restricts water movement and air penetration into the root zone, eventually reducing root function and causing a decline in plant vigor and disease resistance. Limit foot and vehicular traffic on wet soils to prevent excessive compaction. Regular aerification in the fall or spring will reduce thatch accumulation and relieve compacted soils. A healthy turf grass can recover more rapidly from periodic disease outbreaks. Fungicides alone may help to minimize short-term disease damage but are not a substitute for proper cultural management.




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