Turf management is commonly equated to golf courses and parks, yet some of the most honored grass in our nation is found in areas not often discussed: cemeteries. As a place of refuge, cemeteries have been carpeted by carefully manicured turfgrass since the mid-1800s. Today, the tradition not only fosters a sense of serenity for visitors, but has created natural habitats for animals.
According to Dave Ittner, President and COO of Fairmount Memorial Association in Spokane, WA, which maintains 330 acres of developed cemetery, the key to a lush green lawn is to mow regularly, removing no more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time; string trim the edges to create a polished look; and then clean up. Either blow or sweep trimmings to finalize the job. Combined with managing water use to ensure you’re not overwatering, these basic manicuring steps can quickly take your lawn from good to great.
With baseball season about to start swinging, we chatted with Todd Tribble, field superintendent at Oklahoma State University to get his advice for maintaining a playoff-perfect field.
Follow these five lawn care tips this spring and enjoy soft, green grass all season long:
You can check out more of the Turf Teamawesome tips for year-round maintenance and field care here: http://turf.okstate.edu/monthly-turf-tips
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With summer in full swing, it’s time to think about how to maintain a beautiful, healthy lawn while being mindful of water use. “When it gets hot, the most common mistake people make is to excessively water their lawn. However, your lawn only needs to be watered once or twice a week during the summer months,” said Bryan Ostlund, Grass Seed USA executive director. “When done correctly, cutting back on irrigation can actually strengthen your lawn.”
Follow these five lawn care tips and enjoy a bed of soft, green grass all summer long:
With some communities sending out watering guidelines for summer water conservation, it’s important to keep some very basic guidelines in mind when watering, such as watering once every other day or twice a week. Fewer, longer waterings encourage the roots to grow deeper making the lawn stronger and more drought-resistant. Over watering can lead to lawn damage due to over-saturation.
The absence of rainfall in the latter half of summer means that you will need to apply about 1 to 2 inches of water per week in order to maintain a healthy yard.
Always water your turf during the cooler hours of the day, either early morning or evening. Watering during the heat of the day does very little good as much of the water evaporates before reaching the roots.
Set your mower to cut less grass. You can reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation by keeping your grass slightly taller (2 to 3 inches) in the summer, so that the blades shade the roots and soil surface, keeping it cooler and protected.
Whatever watering routine you choose, stick with it. Grass does best with a consistent watering schedule, and starting and stopping a watering pattern can stunt your turf’s growth.
Summer means outdoor entertaining. Whether you’re hosting a wedding reception, a family reunion or a birthday party, you’ll want to make the backyard get-together memorable. Here are some quick DIY ideas to help you get ready for a fun, stress-free gathering.
A healthy green lawn is an inviting setting for outdoor activities. If your lawn isn’t quite up to snuff, a little last-minute maintenance can help. Following are some tips from Grass Seed USA, a coalition of American grass seed farmers and academics:
Creating the ambiance
Beyond the table arrangements (linens, tableware, flowers) you’ll want to think about creating a comfortable ambiance for your guests. Here are a few ideas to consider:
Your get-together likely already has some built-in activities (eating, for one!), but depending on the type of event, you may want to have a few additional distractions planned, especially if there are kids at the party. Try a few of these:
One of the great advantages of entertaining outdoors is that it’s usually easier and less stressful than trying to fit a large group into your home. So keep things simple and don’t worry if you don’t have time for elaborate preparations, your backyard will naturally do most of the decorating and ambiance creation for you, and you’ll have plenty of options for outdoor activities for kids of all ages.
Spring and Baseball in America
One of the most uniquely American springtime events is the return of the national pastime, baseball. Each spring, big league clubs trek to Florida or Arizona for Spring Training, youngsters register for little league and fans optimistically await the start of a new season, knowing that their team, for at least Opening Day, is in first place.
The image of a vibrant, green baseball field is a welcome reminder that the weather is improving and summer is just around the corner – but this iconic image does not manifest itself without effort. Across the country, well before seasons shift and temperatures rise, city park landscapers, schoolyard staff and major league grounds crews alike prep the green fields we know and love. Recently, We Seed America spoke with Jeff Wright, head groundskeeper for the National League’s Philadelphia Phillies, to learn what goes into creating and maintaining the iconic symbol that is the baseball diamond.
Becoming a Major League Groundskeeper
Jeff Wright is no stranger to baseball fields, having been with the Phillies organization since 1986. Back then, he worked part time as a “day of game” groundskeeper with ambitions to one day join the team as a graphic design artist. As time passed, Wright’s prowess maintaining the field and love for working outdoors helped him become something more of a grounds keeping artist, and he has worked full time on the Phillies’ grounds crew since 1990.
Beyond the basics of keeping the grass green and making sure the infield dirt is just right, there is a lot Jeff and his team must do to ensure the field it in tip top condition for game day. For example, certain varieties of grass may make the baseball roll too slow or too fast, and special decorations may be in order for postseason or World Series play. Maintaining a Major League playing field is a year long endeavor, and the challenge of keeping the field at Citizens Bank Park “the best there is in baseball” is something Jeff’s team strives for.
Major League Lawn Care
Getting a field into form for Opening Day begins with winterization steps taken just after the previous season ends, and does not look dissimilar from what is often recommended for homeowners’ lawns. According to Jeff, field winterization “might be somewhat a challenge in Philadelphia with the colder climate, but we overseed in the fall, put down our fertilizers and hope for the best.” Jeff noted there had been a few instances where particularly harsh conditions necessitated the use of winter blankets, but usually overseeding does the trick.
After winter comes Spring Training. Efforts to ready the Phillies’ facility in Clearwater, Florida begin in earnest in January and last throughout February. The impressive baseball complex includes 4 fields and over 20 pitching mounds, and requires a true group effort to maintain Major League standards.
Once the regular baseball season begins, ongoing maintenance becomes important, and this goes far beyond ensuring the grass is vibrantly green. Performance optimization is a chief concern, and feedback on the turf comes from players and coaches alike. Previously, Riviera Bermudagrass was used at Citizens Bank Park, but after hearing from players that this variety made the surface too quick, the grounds crew switched over to Kentucky bluegrass, which can be grown at a higher height than Bermudagrass and helps the game be played a little slower. Facing these sorts of challenges is something Jeff enjoys, and he is always looking for ways the turf can be optimized for performance.
Winning It All
Maintaining a major league-caliber playing surface is key to sustaining a high level of baseball prowess, which is why Jeff selected the Phillies’ 2008 World Series championship as his favorite moment as an MLB groundskeeper. According to Jeff, when the final out was made to clinch the victory, the scene on the field was “total euphoria” as players, coaches and the grounds crew all celebrated the accomplishment as one. After all, winning a championship in professional sports takes dedication at all levels, which is why Jeff and his crew were rewarded with their very own World Series championship rings, a fitting reward for countless hours of hard work and dedication.
If you’re a part of the nearly 90 percent of Americans who believe it’s important to have a well-maintained yard, you and your backyard will appreciate these seven simple steps for tending to your natural turf lawn with minimal effort.