Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Turf Assessment in Lincoln

Yesterday we visited our Lincoln school again and examined the turf. Clyde and I were joined by the head school custodian, Roch Gaussoin, turf specialist at UNL, and one of the school's groundskeepers. There was a lot of white clover growth, which can be both good and bad!

Roch said that until the 1950's, clover was actually included in part of the seed mix for lawns because it helps release nitrogen. He mentioned that if the school wanted to, they could actually allow the clover to be the primary groundcover. The only concern might be potential liability issues with bees (student and staff allergic reactions)

Increasing fertility (using more fertilizers, such as one application in the fall) would greatly cut down the amount of clover. However, this would encourage grass growth and result in the need for mowing more often. The school has limited manpower to address the turf at all the Lincoln schools, so this might not be the preferable option.

Another thing of note was that mulch was compounded around the trees. The trees were planted well, at the proper depth. Roch suggested that the mulch just be spread out a bit away from the tree rather than mounded so tightly against it. This will help reduce mower hits against the tree as well.

The groundskeeper also mentioned that sports turf areas in LPS are the only places where herbicides are used because these areas have a higher priority to be maintained. He mentioned otherwise they just mow, and they don't fertilize the general turf.

Overall, we offered the school a variety of options in addressing their turf health and our recommendations take into consideration that their decisions have to be based on time and personnel.

Finally, Clyde also suggested that the sports turf groundskeeper as well as any other interested district groundskeepers attend the Green Expo in January. This is great for both pesticide applicator recertification as well as updated information about landscape and turf issues.

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