Turfgrass Publications Cover Soil Health and Warm-Season Grasses

New and updated publications help Iowans improve lawn health

August 27, 2021, 10:21 am | Adam Thoms

AMES, Iowa – New resources are available from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach intended to help residential and commercial lawn care providers improve soil health and maintain healthy warm-season lawns.

“Turfgrass Calendar: Warm-Season Grasses for Lawns in Iowa” is a three-page guide that covers seasonal considerations for warm-season grasses. Topics include mowing, watering, fertilization, weed control and seed establishment.

Turfgrass.Adam Thoms, assistant professor in horticulture and extension turfgrass specialist at Iowa State, said warm-season grasses are becoming more popular in Iowa, partly because they are more drought-tolerant. However, management is different than for cool-season species, and lawn owners and service providers may need to brush up on their maintenance skills.

Warm-season grasses include bermudagrass, zoysiagrass and buffalograss. However, bermudagrass does not survive well in Iowa due to poor cold tolerance and winterkill.

The other two publications are geared toward soil health and fertility and are titled “Turfgrass Biological Soil Health” and “Natural (Organic) Fertilization for Turf.”

The soil health publication guides users through the basics of a biologically healthy soil, including the microorganisms found in healthy soil, and considerations related to soil amendments, pesticides, biostimulants and cultural practices.

The organic fertilizer publication discusses a wide range of organic fertilizers, nutrient concentration and application rates.

“All three of these publications help answer the sustainability questions that often get asked about growing warm-season grasses,” said Thoms. “We are seeing more interest in warm-season grasses and people want to know how to best care for them.”

Thoms said soil health is especially important when lawns are new, or when they are created in a previously disturbed environment such as new construction or renovation.

“After the soil is displaced, we need to not only rebuild the fertility, but also the biological activity that is required for a healthy turf,” Thoms said.

Healthy soils sustain productivity, enhance and maintain water and air quality, and support plant health. Soil health involves physical, chemical and biological processes and properties that must all be present, according to the publication.

All three publications are available for free download on the Iowa State University Extension Store.

For more information, Thoms can be reached at 515-294-1957 or athoms@iastate.edu.

Shareable photo: Turfgrass.

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