Turf Science: Tailored Lawn Care for Healthier Gardens
Understanding the science behind how grass grows can be a game-changer for anyone wanting to provide bespoke and successful turf care. From anatomy to nutritional needs, delving into the technical aspects of turf growth equips you with the knowledge that will make lawn maintenance a breeze, whatever the season.
The main function of grass roots is to provide stability and anchor the plant in the soil. The stronger the roots, the more hard-wearing and durable the grass, as the anchorage prevents them from being uprooted by tough weather conditions, or heavy foot traffic.
Whilst your turf is rooting in for the first 2-3 weeks, it is advised that foot traffic on the turf should be minimised, to allow the turf time to grow into the soil & stabilise. This will then ensure your turf has a strong foundation for any future use or seasonal changes. You can check the progress of your turf growth by lifting a small corner, and seeing how far the roots are growing downwards.
Grass blades contain a pigment called ‘Chlorophyll’, which absorb light and turns it into energy for the plant, allowing it to grow and thrive- a process known as photosynthesis.
Grass blades need to absorb sunlight in order to survive and stay that lush green colour you expect- a key sign that the turf is healthy and thriving. The thicker and healthier the blades are, the more resilient they are to mowing & environmental changes.
To encourage the stability of grass blade health, the way that you mow is important.
You should set your mower at an appropriate cutting height and be careful not to mow too short as this can ‘scalp’ the lawn resulting in weak and brown blades.
A good tip is to remove only 1/3 of the grass height every time you mow to encourage strong blade development.
Soil plays a vital role in the upkeep and health of turf- it provides physical support, nutrients and a habitat for various microorganisms that contribute to thriving turf.
Soil holds important nutrients for turf growth like nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. They are absorbed into the grass by the roots and they heavily influence the health and condition of the turf by being essential for processes like photosynthesis.
Soil pH influences nutrient availability- maintaining an appropriate pH level is crucial for turf health. The optimal pH range for most garden soil is between 6.0 and 7.0 - you should aim for a majority neutral if not slightly acidic PH, and research what is best for different grass types/species.
Applying fertiliser helps provide essential nutrients to your soil by increasing the level of organic matter.
Applying extra fertiliser can sometimes affect the nutrient balance, especially if you have too much nitrogen. This can harm rather than help, so it’s best practise to only apply fertiliser based on soil tests, visual deficiencies (yellowing leaves, stunted growth) and seasonal requirements.
Irrigation is one of the most important practises when it comes to lawn care. It is an essential nutrient for photosynthesis, temperature regulation and just general healthy growth.
You should water deeply and infrequently to encourage the grass roots to grow further into the soil to access the water, this promotes a robust root system for grass stability. Avoid frequent & shallow watering, as it can lead to underdeveloped root systems and waterlogged soil.
Watering in the morning and at night when the sun is not directly overhead reduces the possibility for evaporation and scorching the grass. You should adjust your watering schedule based on the seasons- your grass is going to have different needs in hot and cold weather. During hot and dry periods, you may need to water more frequently, whilst colder & wetter weather will need less irrigation.