Pest Control

Weeds are only one of the pests that affect turf installations. Like all plants, turfgrasses are susceptible to an assortment of pathogen, insect, animal, and human injuries. Table 13-2 is a partial list of the problems that can befall a typical lawn.

With turf, as with any crop, the best defense against most pests is the selection of resistant varieties and the creation of a growth environment that favors the turfgrass more than the pest. For example, watering at

pc’$ TABLE 13-2.

Common Turf Problems

Turf Insects

Turf Diseases

Other Problems




Army worms

Brown patch


Bill bugs

Copper spot

Ground squirrels

Cinch bugs

Dollar spot


Cut worms

Fairy ring



Fusarium blight

Human vandalism

Leaf hoppers

Leaf spots

Vehicles and equipment


Net blotch

Mole crickets


Periodical cicadas

Powdery mildew


Pythium blight

Sod webworm

Red thread





Slime molds


Snow molds

night promotes fungal growth of all types and invites disease. Watering should be done earlier in the day to allow the grass to dry before night­fall. Another example: allowing a thick thatch layer to develop provides a good habitat for certain insects. Minimizing the thatch layer reduces these insect populations. When soil insects are reduced or eliminated, the turf is not as attractive to rodents, such as moles, that burrow through the soil to feed on them. Therefore, solving one problem may indirectly solve another.

Pest control in turf is not easy or inexpensive, nor can it be ap­proached casually. However, the arsenal of fungicides, insecticides, and rodenticides, in combination with attentive IPM scouting and increased knowledge of pest vulnerabilities, are adequate to the task of prevent­ing or eradicating most lawn pests. (For a review of the principles of pest control, see Chapter 6.) The local college of agriculture can provide specific recommendations. For the control of people, their vehicles, and their pets, the groundskeeper must rely on fencing, shrub masses, and walls to direct their movement onto paved areas. Signs requesting coop­eration in the preservation of an attractive turf will often help by making people more aware of problems they may cause. After all, not everyone knows the difference between soil aeration and compaction.

Vandalism is impossible to control if the vandals are determined. Turf is not as attractive a target as other components of the landscape, but it gets its share of abuse. Golf courses and parks are most often damaged by vehicles rutting the turf, but the problem is also found on campuses and even in some residential neighborhoods. Locked gates and strategic placement of trees can sometimes help by making vehicu­lar access to the turf difficult for the would-be vandal. Education to increase public awareness of the value of the landscape and the respon­sibilities of citizens is the only real solution to vandalism. It is also easier to write in a textbook than it is to bring into being.


Turfgrass is the ideal outdoor surface for residential, academic, com­mercial, municipal, and recreational landscapes. Since no one grass is suitable for all landscapes, geographic regions, soil types, altitudes, and environmental conditions, the turf professional must have both general and specific knowledge of varieties and their requirements in order to select the appropriate one.

Grasses differ in growth habit, texture, color, density, seed size, soil and climatic tolerance, use tolerance, disease and insect resistance, and maintenance needs.

Grass seed is commonly formulated as either a mixture or a blend. Both formulations have their place, depending on the site and circum­stances. Seeding is only one method of installing a lawn, however. Other methods include sodding, plugging, and sprigging or stolonizing.

Warm-season and cool-season grasses require different planting times. Warm-season grasses are best planted just before the summer season; cool-season grasses, in early fall or early spring. For the best lawn possible, the site must first be graded so that surface water will run off. Good drainage must be provided to maximize growth. Suitable con­ditioning of the soil can improve not only the drainage but texture and pH as well. After planting, mulching and careful watering must keep
the new lawn moist until it is well-established. The first mowing should be shorter than following ones to encourage horizontal branching and promote greater turf density.

Lawn maintenance requires a great deal of time. Some maintenance, such as mowing, goes on throughout the growing season. In addition, there are distinct spring operations to prepare the turf for the growing season and help it shake off the effects of winter. Other operations occur at various points in the summer and fall, depending on the type of turf and the location.

Turf is mowed with reel, rotary, or flail mowers. Which is used depends on the type of turf, the size of the installation, and the quality of cut desired. Mowing is potentially hazardous and workers should be especially safety conscious.

Weed control is accomplished with preemergence and postemer­gence herbicides. Other pests are controlled through the use of resis­tant varieties, creation of a growth-positive environment, and assorted chemical pesticides as part of an integrated pest management program.



Answer each of the following questions as briefly as possible.

1. List nine ways in which turfgrasses can vary.

2. Indicate if the following apply to warm – season grasses (W), cool-season grasses (C), or both (B).

a. favored by temperatures of 80° to 95° F

b. favored by temperatures of 60° to 75° F

c. commonly installed by plugging

d. planted in the late spring for optimum growth

e. examples are bluegrasses and fescues

f. planted in the early fall or early spring for optimum growth

g. require regular watering after planting and for at least a month afterwards

h. should be fertilized in the late spring

i. should be fertilized in the early spring and early fall

j. must be well drained

3. What are the advantages of using a good seed mixture for a home lawn rather than a single species of grass?

4. List four factors that could cause the prices of two 1-pound packages of grass seed to differ.

5. List and define the important terms found on a grass seed analysis label.

Match the characteristics on the left with the methods of lawn installation on the right.

a. a vegetative 1. seeding

method that 2. sodding

uses pieces of 3. plugging

the plant 4. sprigging/

without soil stolonizing


b. gives the most immediate effect

c. the most common and least expensive method

d. a vegetative method that uses small circular or square pieces of sod

e. a vegetative method that can be accomplished by broadcasting and top­dressing

7. Explain how a spreader is calibrated.

8. List the six steps in starting a successful lawn.


1. From Table 13-1, select all the turfgrasses that will survive in your region of the country. Next group them, first on the basis of similarities in use, then on the basis of maintenance requirements. Formulate turfgrass recommendations for a local home lawn, athletic field, and highway soil stabilization project.

2. Select a lawn area with which you are familiar, such as your home lawn, campus, or a nearby park. Determine

Updated: October 5, 2015 — 6:12 am