No matter the type of mowing equipment managers specify, they also need to have processes in place that will complement mowing activities and sustain attractive turf areas. Managers can consider these tips to ensure turf areas continue to look their best:
Fertilizer. It is a common misperception among some managers that using more fertilizer results in better-looking turf. Many organizations have been reducing the amount of fertilizer they apply in order to minimize the impact on the environment. Organic fertilizers provide desirable color and they reduce clipping yield, which reduces fatigue on mowers.
One option is a bridge product that is 70-90 percent natural organic with up to 30 percent inorganic source. After the third year of its application, managers might be able to further reduce the amount of fertilizer applied by 25 percent and achieve the same results.
Water conservation. It has become increasingly important for grounds departments to audit irrigation systems in order to determine the amount of water applied to turf areas. Too often, when a grounds manager is asked, "How much water are you applying?" the response is, "I run the system about 45 minutes twice a week."
That response does not disclose the amount of water used, the amount that moved into the soil profile, the amount that ran off, and the amount of water that moves into the soil profile based on the rate of application for the sprinkler system.
Aeration. Aeration is one of the most underrated cultural practices in grounds care today. Most landscapes have been created on B horizon soil, which is low in organic matter and oxygen and often compacted. During active growing season, it is important to use a core-type aerator on least 15 percent of the soil surface. Workers must be sure to drag cores as they add organic matter back into the soil in order to improve the overall quality of the surface.
George R. Bernardon is regional vice president of grounds management with SSC Service Solutions. Stephen Wood, Seth Flowers and Cory Fillip of Texas A&M University provided assistance with the article.
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Product Focus: Mowers