Insect and Disease Prevention in Turf Grasses

Insect and Disease Prevention in Turf Grasses

What does one do when they are worried about their turf? A well maintained and healthy turf is a necessity for golf course owners who want to keep their customers satisfied, school athletic departments who want to ensure the success of their teams, and business owners who want to make a good impression on potential clients. The most important thing one can remember is that turf requires consistent maintenance in order to stay healthy, and an unhealthy lawn can lead to disease or pests.

Most turf disease are caused by fungi, some of the most common being slime mold, pythium, and dollar spot. Slime mold is easy to spot, as it looks like a chalk colored powder covering the turf. Pythium is a disease of the roots, usually caused by poor irrigation and drainage. Dollar spot looks like hourglass shaped spots in the turf, and is also caused by poor irrigation practices.

Common Pests That Infect Turfgrass

Insect and Disease Prevention in Turf GrassesCommon pests that infect turf grass are: ants, grubs, and chinch bugs. Ants are fairly obvious to spot, and can take hold in turf that is mowed too close. Grubs feed on the roots of the turf and a common symptom of a grub infestation is spots on the turf turning a bluish color. Chinch bugs are particularly annoying, as they will not only suck the nutrients out of the turf, but inject it with a poison. Proper turf care is a must in preventing all of these diseases and pests from taking root, luckily there are several tried and true methods for keeping your turf in fantastic health, such as: aeration, top dressing, and verticutting.

Aeration, the process by which air, water, and nutrients are allowed through to the roots, is very important in maintaining a healthy turf. In order to aerate small holes need to be perforated in the turf, so it is best to do this during growing season when the turf can heal fastest. It is best to use an aerating tool that actually removes plugs from the turf instead of just poking holes in it, as the second method can cause some of the turf to become compacted which just leads to further blockages. After aeration, the cores, which still contain valuable nutrients, may be redistributed to areas of the turf which are in need of repair.

Insect and Disease Prevention in Turf GrassesTop Dressing is essentially adding another layer of soil onto the top of the turf, this will even out areas which may be lower lying than other dues to erosion and reduce compaction in some areas of the turf. The best time to top dress is during mild weather, usually early in the fall or spring, so that the soil has time to adjust before experiencing severe heat or cold. Not only does top dressing improve the overall health of the turf, it also provides a flatter, and therefore safer and fairer playing environment for golf courses and athletic fields.

Verticutting is a specific method of turf mowing that removes built up thatch, which is a layer of dead shoots, stems, and roots that block the soil from receiving enough air, water, and nutrients. A properly cut lawn will also help prevent ants and other pests from taking hold. Verticutting should be performed once a year, preferably before the growing season, in addition to the regular mowing one does to maintain the height of their turf.

One who regularly employs these methods will find that they have a healthy, safe, and beautiful lawn for years to come.

Keith Kitchen