Virginia Turfgrass Council / P.O. Box 5989 / Virginia Beach, VA 23471 /



Virginia Turfgrass Council / P.O. Box 5989 / Virginia Beach, VA 23471 /
Virginia Turfgrass Council / P.O. Box 5989 / Virginia Beach, VA 23471 / ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED
Journal of the Virginia Turfgrass Council | March/April 2011
18 Cover Story
Are Freedom Lawns
Environmentally Responsible?
14 Recent Event
Highlights from the VTC’s
2011 Turf & Landscape
Conference & Tradeshow
26 Professional Matters
How to Get Along
with Your Boss
6 President’s Message
from Melissa Reynolds
8 Director’s Corner
from Tom Tracy, Ph.D.
10 Editor’s Perspective
from Mark Vaughn, CGCS
12 VTF Report
from Betty Parker
30 Turfgrass Calendar
30 Index of Advertisers
President’s Message
We Are Surpassing!
emember when I wrote, last winter, about “persistence” into the new decade? I
believe this message was a valid one, and I believe it was heard. It has been the
watchword for our industry in this last year. Why do I believe this? The activities
of the Virginia Turfgrass Council in 2010 demonstrated just what persistence in
striving for our industry will accomplish:
• Increased number of pesticide recertification participants through six different
sessions held at various state venues, all organized by the VTC.
Melissa Reynolds
VTC President
• Increased participation in the Bob Ruff Memorial Research Golf Tournament, sporting
27 holes, with a net amount of $16,668.52 dollars being raised for research. This success
was the direct result of numerous VTC committee members and other individuals
volunteering their time to make contact with suppliers, vendors and VTC members to
garner their participation.
• Increased number of personal contacts and volunteer visits by VTC members to delegates and senators with regards to upcoming legislation in the 2011 General Assembly to
provide educative insight about the value of turfgrass. (See the Director’s Corner in the
January/February 2011 edition of The Virginia Turfgrass Journal, outlining these activities.) On January 25–26, 2011, our executive director, Tom Tracy, and Gil Grattan, VTC
legislative chair and board member, met with senators and delegates at the General
Assembly in Richmond, discussing the various pieces of legislation affecting our industry.
• Increased the number of meetings collaborating with state agencies — VAC, VDACS,
DEQ, DCR — with reference to policies affecting our industry.
• Increased attendance at our 51st VTC Conference and Show over last year.
• Increased tradeshow booth sales – this show SOLD OUT!
New VTC Board Member
Marc Petrus
Innovative Turf Services
Rockville, VA
As you can read in the above-listed items, our organization experienced success in
many areas to which we are dedicated in serving our industry. Without the determination
to tackle the status quo of a lackluster economy, there may not have been these “increases”
to report to our membership. Many thanks go out to those members and supporters of the
VTC who challenged the norm of just “surviving” and attained the status of “surpassing.”
Meet your newest board members!
The VTC would also like to welcome the newest members of our board of directors, Mark
Petrus and Scott Woodward. Mark and Scott are taking the seats of Patrick Connelly and
Jeff Holliday, CGCS, whose terms ended at the recent Conference. Thank you, Jeff and
Patrick, for your years of dedicated service to the VTC! New VTC Board Member
Scott Woodward
Woodward Turf Farms
Nokesville, VA
Director’s Corner
Legislative Work
Tom Tracy, Ph.D.
VTC Executive Director
I write this column, the General Assembly is still in session. Much of
the committee work has been completed, and the nine (yes, nine)
separate pieces of fertilizer legislation have been reduced to four.
Two of the remaining four are administrative and seek to update regulatory language.
The remaining two bills are a compilation of the original seven and are still being
debated and negotiated. My experiences during this session of the General Assembly
have taught me that three things must come into place for effective change to occur:
a focus on relationships, a focus on the big picture and a focus on the nitty-gritty
of negotiation.
Relationships are vital to any endeavor that involves people. Our industry
certainly meets that qualification because even though we work with plants, all of us
are really in the people business. Members of the General Assembly are individuals
with whom we must develop relationships. They need to know turfgrass professionals.
They must be able to pick up a phone (or send a text message) and speak with a
VTC member about the potential impact of a piece of legislation.
As an example of the value of developing these relationships, please consider the
work accomplished by Gil Grattan and several VTC members who devoted time last
fall to meet with legislators in their home districts. Just as the General Assembly began,
one of the legislators we visited asked me about the impact of fertilizer application
blackout dates. I had the opportunity to explain to him that such dates are not
practical for Virginia because of our diverse climate. Blackout dates did not appear
in legislation endorsed by this person! Did our conversation affect his decision?
I like to think it did.
The big picture is that the turfgrass industry is viable and that properly maintained
turfgrass is very good for the environment. Professionals within the industry apply
principles that are based on science, enhance the environment and are economically
feasible. Focusing on the big picture enables us to confidently pursue good legislation
and shy away from legislation that is either based on false assumptions or only seeks
hastily enacted regulations at the expense of long-term solutions. (One only has to
look to the confusing web of local regulations in Florida to see an example of hastily
enacted regulations that focus on the short-term.)
The third leg of the proverbial legislative stool entails actively working in the give
and take of negotiations. Such negotiations require the steeliness of a world-class
poker player, the ability to anticipate the intents and actions of other negotiators,
and knowing when to stand your ground and when to make compromises.
What’s next? Even now, we are making plans for the 2012 General Assembly. Visiting
legislators in their home districts is a key component of those plans. We need your
help for these visits. Please contact us if you are willing to be part of a visitation team.
I close with a quote from John Adams, our second U.S. President: “I am willing to
risk the safety of our country upon this single proposition — that you will baffle and
deceive them all by being perfectly honest.” Let us all have integrity and honesty in
our relationships, in our big-picture focus and in our negotiations. 8 | VIRGINIA TURFGRASS JOURNAL March/April 2011
Cover Stor y continued
Virginia Turfgrass Journal
is the official publication of
The Virginia Turfgrass Council
P.O. Box 5989
Virginia Beach, VA 23471
Office: (757) 464-1004
Fax: (757) 282-2693
[email protected]
Leading Edge Communications, LLC
206 Bridge Street
Franklin, Tennessee 37064
(615) 790-3718
Fax: (615) 794-4524
[email protected]
Mark Vaughn, CGCS
Melissa Reynolds
Dura Turf Service Corp.
(804) 233-4972
Vice President
Frank Flannagan
Belmont Golf Course
(804) 501-5993
Brian Vincel, CGCS
Spring Creek Golf Club
(434) 566-2580
Past President
Rick Viancour, CGCS
Golden Horseshoe Golf Club
(757) 220-7489
Gil Grattan
Vince Henderson
Rick Owens, CGCS
Marc Petrus
Steve Slominski
Steve Smith
Scott Woodward
Mike Goatley, Ph.D. (Chair)
Shawn Askew, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Derr, Ph.D.
Erik Ervin, Ph.D.
Rajandra Waghray, Ph.D.
Rod Youngman, Ph.D.
Tom Tracy, Ph.D.
(757) 681-6065
Betty Parker
(757) 574-9061
Journal of the Virginia Turfgrass Council
Editor’s Perspective
Drum Roll, Please…
My Predictions
for 2011
Mark Vaughn, CGCS
Virginia Turfgrass
Journal Editor
Thousand Eleven, Twenty
Eleven… whatever you call it,
wherever you go, here we are.
Might as well face it armed with the best info you can
get. Which is right here from VTC World Publishing
Headquarters, located fittingly in the same building as
the National Enquirer, The Globe and True Detective. Yes, I
hesitate to brag on my connections to a higher power,
but after watching the infomercial and sending him
$5,000, I don’t believe Master Prophet (Google for more
info) would mind me doing a little name-dropping.
Oh yeah, for THE MAN, the disclaimer: Names
mentioned herein are purely fictional. Any reference to
any persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Besides,
we all know words don’t MEAN anything anyway. Talk,
talk, talk, talk. And sentences? C’mon… just a bunch of
words strung together. Void where prohibited.
Prediction #1
Following the California model, and seeing an opportunity to continue the revenue enhancement started by
the privatization of ABC stores across the Commonwealth,
Gov. McDonnell changes the state slogan to “Virginia
is for vices” and declares Blacksburg Sensimilla legal.
Flashing the “V” sign at a news conference, McDonnell
(in a tie-dyed shirt) smiles, steps up to the microphone
and proclaims, “It’s a new day for grass in Virginia. The
royalties going to Tech for this will be enormous. They’ll
have enough money to put that second deck in Cassell
Coliseum. I’m sorry we had to ban tall fescue as a threat
to the environment, but once we reordered our priorities,
it became clear what the real danger to society was.”
Prediction #2
Taking advantage of the 2011 locale of the Open, and
desperate to appeal to a new generation of viewers, the
USGA rents a house near Congressional, wires it with
cameras and stocks it with Virginia vices (and the occasional lobbyist). “Golf House” is inhabited the week prior
to, the week of and the week after the Open. Residents
include Nancy “Snooki” Pelosi, John “Tan Jovi” Edwards,
John “Waterfall” Boehner, Harry “Vegas” Reid, Lindsey
“Dixie” Graham, Sarah “C-Barb” Palin, Michele “Overdrive”
Bachmann and Christine “Witchie-Poo” O’Donnell. Sparks
fly, and tempers flare, but the USGA coffers grow larger
as Golf Channel viewership soars.
Prediction #3
After the 2010 debacle at Whistling Straits, the PGA of
America continues the generation gap-bridging started
by the USGA and announces that the 2011 tournament
at Atlanta Athletic Club will be played under “winter rules.”
Rules chairman Vinny “The Dude” Petraglia declares that
all participants will be allowed to move the ball one club
length through the green. In addition, a small ball of
twine will be issued to each player and can be used to
continue the previous stroke by stretching it to the hole
and cutting off whatever length is used (known to golfers
as the “string” rule). Three tour players withdraw after
the first round after suffering self-inflicted stab wounds
(didn’t their momma teach them to carry scissors pointing
away from them?).
Prediction #4
Tiger Woods shocks the golfing world by announcing his
retirement. Pressed for comment, he reveals that he will be
opening a chain of “adult… uummmm… entertainment
venues.” Tiger adds, “Like many golfers, other athletes, politicians, etc., I have enjoyed my time in the limelight, but it
is time for me to move on to other ventures.” When asked
how he could give up so close to his dream of eclipsing Jack
Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors, Tiger responds, “Dreams and
goals change.” Then, with a big smile he adds, “The record
I’m chasing now is Wilt Chamberlain’s, not Jack’s.”
Prediction #5
President Obama saves golf from a meltdown by announcing a stimulus package for the game he loves. In a White
House press conference, he states, “There are 18,000 golf
courses in this country. Uh, wait… 17,999. What’s that?
17,998. As I was saying… What? Make that 17,997. ANYWAY,
before I finish this speech, over 25 courses will have closed.
If we give each of them one million dollars, that’s only a little
over seventeen billion dollars. Chump change, compared
to what my predecessor and I have given rich white people
for the last three years. And these are not people that robbed
from us to begin with. If we’re going to give money away,
it might as well be somewhere we can enjoy it.”
Prediction #6
WikiLeaks rocks the turf world by releasing hundreds of
documents concerning Poa annua. These papers reveal that as
early as 1975 there was a cure for the dastardly weed, but the
parties involved agreed that for “the common good of the
people ” (i.e., the universities and corporations), these secrets
would be tightly held. Personal-injury lawyers descend like
locusts on turfheads and, on their behalf, demand millions
from the conspirators for their 35 years of pain, suffering,
broken marriages and wasted pesticide applications.
Prediction #7
Steve Jobs adds to the millions worshipping at the Apple altar
by introducing a new green-industry app for the iPhone in
February. By simply holding their phone 4" or less above the
turf canopy and moving it in the shape of the Apple logo,
users of “Greenpeace” will be given turf type, % organic
matter, moisture level, instant nematode assay, diseases present, soil compaction level and nutrient recommendations.
At the end of November, Jobs reveals
it was all a farce but adds, “Hey, man,
wasn’t it cool to see all those people
on their knees mimicking my logo.”
Prediction #9
After having Co-Junior Boy, Co-Senior Women and CoGolfer of the Year for 2010, the VSGA decides to have CoState Amateur and Co-State Open Championships. On hand
to congratulate the Co-Champions will be Paula Abdul. They
also announce that every contestant will get a “participant”
trophy and a “Happy Meal” coupon.
Prediction #10
And… the annual Masters prediction. Facing a Masters
without Tiger, and the announced plans for the USGA and
PGA later in the year, Augusta shakes up the old guard by
inviting the Big O from Chicago to do her show all week
on location. Things get real testy on Wednesday when her
“supposed” first guest turns out to be not former champ
Craig Stadler but a cleverly disguised Martha Burke. On
Thursday, she brings in Medium star Patricia Arquette to
contact the ghost of Clifford Roberts. Friday is a total
disaster, as President Obama shows up and Washington
Rd. is shut down, effectively eliminating any “patrons”
from entering the grounds. The ever-industrious Oprah
soothes all the hurt feelings, however, by promising ALL
Augusta members a bus trip down the road to Savannah
to pick up their new G550 Gulfstreams.
Well, gotta go. Need to get the Beta version of Bazinga
downloaded from “Sting” in time for our quarterly
budget meeting. Prediction #8
Former Hard Rock Club Supt. “Sting”
reemerges from the unemployed ranks
by introducing an app for the rival
ANDROID system. Modeled after the
“Shazam” music app for the iPhone,
“Bazinga” allows employed superintendents to determine the likelihood of their
termination. Just turn on “Bazinga,”
leave your phone on the pro-shop
counter (or in the ladies’ locker room,
on the bar in the 19th hole or backseat
of the greens chairman’s Porsche), and
watch the magic take place. Sensing
the frequency of phrases such as “next
level, stimp, club my brother-in-law
belongs to, good assistant, low handicap,
too much money, bottom line,” etc.,
Bazinga can easily determine if you
have smooth sailing for the next year,
or if they’re about to pour Paraquat on
your pancakes. “Sting” says, “Get the
drop on the buggers, and negotiate a
severance package before they have
you by the bollocks like they did me!”
Journal of the Virginia Turfgrass Council
| 11
VTF Report
Our Annual
Betty Parker
VTF Manager
A special thank you goes out
to Sterling Caudle for his
service as our president the
past three years. Sterling has
served our board faithfully
and will continue to do so this
year as our vice president.
the day the tradeshow opened at this year’s Virginia Turfgrass
Conference, most of us walked to the Expo Center from our
hotels. Our car doors and locks were frozen from the ice that
rained over our parking lots and roads, but that certainly did not stop us!
It was good to see so many of you at this year’s show. It is such a treat for me
every year to talk with so many of the fine people in this industry and reflect on
the trials and triumphs of the past year.
Thanks to all of you who continue to support turfgrass research through the
Virginia Turfgrass Foundation. Whether it’s as a sponsor at one of the many research
tournaments around the state or as a direct donation to the VTF, we are very appreciative of your support. This year, the VTC presented us with a check for $16,668.52
from its annual research tournament held at Wintergreen Resort. The Shenandoah
Valley Turf Association contributed $1,000 to the VTF and an additional $5,000 to
the BMP project in their support of turfgrass research. Thanks also to the Virginia
Sod Growers Association, which donated $2,000 toward turfgrass research. We
genuinely appreciate all of these very valuable and hard-earned dollars.
The VTF board met, as we always do at this time of year, to review the research
proposals for this year. We will have to make some cuts to stay honest to our fiscal
responsibilities, but we have endorsed the following projects for this year and look
forward to working with our researchers to meet your needs and concerns. Please
let us know if there a topic you wish to have addressed by our researchers. Obviously,
they have to work within the scope of their fields and facilities, but they do and
will serve at the pleasure of you, their employers!
• Improving Chemical and Biological Management of Moss on Golf Putting Greens
• Cultural and Physiological Impacts on Brown Patch Severity and Weed
Encroachment in Tall Fescue
• Novel and Conventional Chemistries and Timing Options for Managing White
Grubs in Cool-Season Turf
• Stream Water Quality Monitoring on Four Virginia Golf Courses in the Chesapeake
Bay Watershed
Total for ongoing projects: $46,280
Total for new projects: $14,756.50
Seed law revenue has been down the past couple of years, but our endowment
fund continues to grow with the recent success of the stock market. It has grown to
$364,983.03. Our hope is that we will reach our goal of $1,000,000 and can begin
to rely on the interest of this fund without impacting its principal. 12 | VIRGINIA TURFGRASS JOURNAL March/April 2011
VTF Report continued
2011 VTF Board of Directors
We would like to present our board for 2011 and encourage anyone with questions about the VTF to contact
a board member so that we may serve our industry through the support of turfgrass research.
Jimmy Rodgers CSFM
[email protected]
Vice President
Sterling Caudle, CGCS
[email protected]
Fredrick S. Biggers, CGCS
[email protected]
Lin Diacont III
[email protected]
Melissa Reynolds
[email protected]
Adam Dixon, CSFM
[email protected]
Rick Viancour, CGCS
[email protected]
Richard Fisher, CGCS
[email protected]
Frank Flannagan
[email protected]
VTF Manager
Betty Parker
[email protected]
Journal of the Virginia Turfgrass Council
| 13
Cover Story
Held January 17–20, the VTC’s Annual
Turf & Landscape Conference & Show
was once again an unprecedented
success. From packed educational
sessions to the sold-out tradeshow, golf
course superintendents, sports turf
managers, lawncare operators, sod producers, parks and recreation personnel
and other turf professionals from across
the region flocked to the Fredericksburg Expo Center for what is quickly
becoming the must-attend event for
the East Coast’s turfgrass industry.
On these pages are just a few of the
conference’s many highlights.
Next year, the 52nd VTC Annual
Conference and Marketplace will
again be held at the Fredericksburg
Expo Center. Mark your calendars
for January 16–19, 2011! Congratulations
to the 2011
VTC Award
VTC President Melissa Reynolds
presented the VTC’s 2011 R.D.
Cake/Silver Tray Award to Steve
Glass, University of Richmond and
2004–2005 VTC President.
Keith Happ and Darin Bevard,
from the USGA Green Section,
provided a recap of the challenges
and opportunities faced by golf
courses in 2010.
VTC Executive Director Tom
Tracy orchestrated the sold-out
tradeshow, which quickly became
the event’s hot spot for networking
and socializing.
The Virginia Chapter of the
GCSAA presented its President’s
Lifetime Achievement Award
to Lee Dieter, 1970–1971 VTC
Virginia Tech’s Jeff Derr (left) and
Clemson University’s Bert McCarty
were among the educational
program’s popular presenters.
The pretty ladies at the Registration
Desk welcomed attendees to the
Conference and provided vital
behind-the-scenes assistance
all week.
>The VTC Award
Dudley Eames, CGCS
Former superintendent at Jefferson
Lakeside C.C.
>R.D. Cake/
Silver Tray Award
Steve Glass
University of Richmond
and former VTC President
>VTC President’s Award
Rick Viancour, CGCS
Golden Horseshoe G.C.
and VTC Immed. Past President
Seen on the
Tradeshow Floor!
Journal of the Virginia Turfgrass Council
| 15
Thanks to Our Generous
2011 Conference Sponsors
Grigg Brothers
>Gold Sponsor
>Silver Sponsors
All Pro Mowers
Bayer Environmental
DuPont Professional
Egypt Farms
Fisher & Son
Harmon Turf
Lawn & Landscape
Valent Professional
Winfield Solutions
Specialty Turf
Virginia Green
Lawn Care
>Wi-Fi Sponsor
Southern States
Cover Story
By Erik Ervin, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor of Turfgrass Culture & Physiology, Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences Department, Virginia Tech
Virginians live within the Chesapeake Bay
Watershed and have a home lawn. Many are
also aware that Bay health remains impaired
due to excess nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) and sediment loading from
the daily activities required in our densely populated society. These pollutants
come from many sources, including sewage-treatment plants, city streets,
development sites, agricultural operations and deposition from the air.
Do nutrient pollutants come from
home lawns? Lawn fertilizer contains
N and P, so it is easy to jump to the
conclusion that they do. Many who
value the environmental and economic
health of the Bay have come to this
conclusion, leading them to advocate
something called the Freedom Lawn.
What is a Freedom Lawn? The basic
concept is to take any existing lawn and
continue only one cultural practice:
periodic mowing. All other practices
are to be discontinued: no fertilizer,
no pesticides and no irrigation. The
homeowner is then free to pursue other
interests, free from the added costs of
these inputs and free to proclaim to
interested neighbors that he or she
is protecting the water quality of the
Chesapeake Bay. But is that so? In what
follows, I discuss and present data on
how the Freedom Lawn choice may
actually result in more potential for
degraded Bay water quality.
Let’s review the research
What happens when all inputs, except
periodic mowing, are removed from
lawns? All around us, we see the
results in our parks, lawns and school
grounds: weeds and open soil areas
increase. Ignoring the aesthetic drawbacks, what are the potential waterquality impacts? A recently published
study at the University of Minnesota
provides some answers.
The researchers installed Kentucky
bluegrass sod on a silt loam soil with a
5% slope to easily allow runoff collection. To simulate soil compaction
resulting from home-building activities,
the compaction caused by the bulldozer
during laser-leveling was not relieved
by tillage prior to sodding. No fertilizer
was applied during the first year. In
the second year, the following treatments were applied to various plots
in this study and continued over years
three through five:
• No fertilizer
• Standard N (3 lbs./1,000 ft2/yr)
+ no P + standard potassium (K)
• Standard N (3 lbs./1,000 ft2/yr)
+ 1x P (as recommended by soil
test) + standard K
• Standard N (3 lbs./1,000 ft2/yr)
+ 3x P (as recommended by soil
test) + standard K
Fertilizer treatments were applied
in 1/3 equal increments in May,
September and October of each year,
based on standard lawn fertilization
guidelines from Minnesota Cooperative
Extension. These guidelines closely
match those of Virginia Cooperative
Extension. No irrigation was used on
these lawn plots. The initial soil test P
level was 25 ppm; this level is in the
sufficiency range, so the testing lab
recommended little to no P for normal
lawn maintenance.
What happened? By year three, the
no-fertilizer plots had greatly reduced
turf density, greater weed density, more
exposed soil and more dead grass/
weed tissue than the N fertilized plots.
Adding P at a 1x or 3x rate did not
improve turf density relative to applying N-alone. Significantly, total P runoff
from the no-fertilizer plots was greatest
over the three years of monitoring
because of greater runoff depth. That
is, more water was lost from the plots
that did not receive N fertilizer because
of insufficient turf cover to impede flow,
especially when the soil surface was
frozen. Contained within this runoff
water was also a greater load of P
bound to soil and leaf-litter sediment.
Thus, as long as enough N was
applied to maintain density and retard
weed invasion, less P was lost in runoff,
relative to the no-fertilizer control, even
when P was applied at 3 times the
recommended rate. I do not make this
point to justify over-application of P
to lawns, but merely to highlight that
the controlling factor in reducing P
runoff from lawns is turf density.
Researchers in New York (a
Chesapeake Bay state) have reported
similar results. They established an 80%
Kentucky bluegrass/20% perennial
ryegrass area from seed on a sandy
loam soil with an 8% slope, using
various natural organic and synthetic
fertilizer treatments. Once the plots
were mature (year 2,) results showed
that the unfertilized control plots had
significantly higher P-mass losses compared to any of the fertilized plots.
These losses strongly correlated with
less shoot density and lower infiltration
rates on the unfertilized control plots.
A direct quote is that “as shoot density
doubled, the infiltration rate increased,
which reduced runoff by three-fold.”
The highest annual rate of fertilizer N
applied in this study was moderate, at
2 lbs./1,000 ft2, but it was enough to
ensure adequate turf density and water
infiltration. Nitrate-N runoff from the
organic or synthetic fertilizer treatments
did not differ from the unfertilized
control, averaging between 2 to 4.5
ppm, considerably below the EPA limit
for safe drinking water (10 ppm).
Interpreting the research
Given these data, what does a Freedom
Lawn offer for water quality in the
Chesapeake Bay Watershed? The unfertilized control plots in the studies
above received only periodic mowing
(fitting the definition of a Freedom
Lawn), and it took only two or three
years for the “Freedom plots” to
become greater contributors of P
loading via runoff than the areas
moderately fertilized with nitrogen.
Eleanor Roosevelt is credited with
saying that “with freedom comes
responsibility.” In my analysis, Freedom
Lawns do not embrace their environmental responsibility and, in fact, can
fairly rapidly become irresponsible. A
more responsible approach heeds the
scientific data, recognizes the limitations
imposed by urban soil disturbance
Journal of the Virginia Turfgrass Council
| 19
continued Cover Stor y
during development and recommends
that we strive for “Sustainable Lawns”
by following a set of best management
practices (BMPs), with the goal of
maintaining lawn surfaces with
minimized water-quality impacts.
BMPs for
Sustainable Lawns
Below are 12 BMPs for Sustainable
Lawns in Virginia and throughout
the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
BMP#1: Improve the soil at establishment to reduce compaction and
improve infiltration.
In new-housing construction, much
of the topsoil is removed, and the
remaining subsoil is severely compacted. Replacing a shallow topsoil
layer prior to grassing is helpful in
getting the lawn established, but the
underlying soil compaction remains.
Subsequently, long term, water infiltration is poor, greatly increasing
the possibility of thin turf and off-site
movement of nutrients.
Thus, prior to topsoil placement,
the subsoil should be cleared of all
debris and rip-plowed and tilled.
Topsoil can then be distributed and
a seedbed prepared. Adding a 1" to
2" layer of quality compost prior to
seedbed preparation would also be
very beneficial to lawn health and
water infiltration over time.
BMP#2: Plant or re-plant best-adapted
turfgrass species and varieties.
Each year, the turfgrass programs at
Virginia Tech and the University of
Maryland collaborate to put out a list
of recommended turf varieties, based
on field evaluations (found here:
08-1456/3008-1456.html). To make the
list, each variety must have performed
above average at both test sites for at
least three years. Each listed variety
must also be available as certified seed,
ensuring genetic purity and seed quality
to the buyer. With adequate establishment, odds are that these varieties will
provide greater stress persistence than
those not on the list.
BMP#3: Improve the soil after establishment to reduce compaction and
improve infiltration.
Most homeowners inherit a lawn with
compacted soil. Core aeration and
compost topdressing can slowly correct
compaction. The rolling-drum aerators
commonly used or rented, however,
pull up cores from only 1% to 3% of
the lawn surface area and do not go
much deeper than 2".
To improve water infiltration and
relieve compaction, go over the lawn in
two to four directions during moist (not
wet) soil conditions, twice a year during
periods of active turfgrass growth. If
possible, hand-spread and rake in a
quality compost applied at 100 lb./1,000
ft2. The average size of home lawns
across Virginia is 5,000 ft2, requiring 500
lbs. of compost for each application.
Cover Stor y continued
Repeatedly applying organic matter
via the compost will build topsoil, bind
nutrients and water and promote soil
aggregation for improved water infiltration and compaction resistance.
Further, it will serve as a natural organic
slow-release fertilizer, providing approximately 1.5 lb. N/1,000 ft2 each time it
is applied. Two compost applications
per year would, then, provide all the
fertility the lawn requires to remain
healthy and dense enough to greatly
limit any potential P or N runoff.
BMP#4: Soil test every 1 to 3 years
to determine if fertilizer P is needed;
use fertilizers with 0% P (e.g., 30-010) if the soil test indicates no need.
Binding readily to clay minerals and soil
organic matter, phosphorus does not
leach. Thus, soil-test P levels change
quite slowly in most Virginia soils. With
our moderate rainfall, soil pH does fall,
but not fast enough to require re-liming
more frequently than every two to three
years. Soil testing every one to three
years, therefore, is sufficient to ensure
adequate P availability. If the soil test
indicates no P need, then select fertilizers that contain no P.
BMP#5: Implement a moderate
fertilizer N program based on Virginia
Cooperative Extension and Virginia
Department of Conservation and
Recreation recommendations.
Our research review (above) clearly
indicated that not applying N-containing fertilizer is not a responsible
choice for pollution prevention. A
moderate amount of N per year (1 to
4 lbs. actual N/1,000 ft2) is needed to
maintain enough turf cover to impede
sediment-bound P loss. Refer to these
online sources to guide your N fertilization practices:http://www.pubs.ext. and and
High-use lawns will need N at the 3to 4-lb. level to push enough growth to
ensure adequate cover against runoff.
Patriot, TifGrand,
TifSport, T10, 419
Zoysias: Zeon, JaMur, El
Toro, Meyer, Empire,
Emerald, Palisades
Adequate cover on low-use lawns can
be maintained via 1- or 2-lb. programs.
For added insurance against N
runoff or leaching losses, use fertilizers
with higher proportions of slow- or
controlled-release N sources. Using
slow-release sources, including organics,
also reduces surge growth, reducing
mowing requirements relative to using
quick-release N sources.
BMP#6: Do not apply fertilizers to
frozen soils.
Several studies have noted that 60% to
90% of P-runoff occurs during winter
thawing periods when the surface soil
is still frozen. Such large runoff events
occur because the soils are either frozen
or saturated, prohibiting water infiltration and allowing soil- or leaf-litterbound P present in open soil areas to
be quickly lost. Applying P-containing
fertilizers too late (November or
December) or too early (February or
March) greatly increases the potential
of P loading into Bay waters.
BMP#7: Do not apply fertilizer to impervious surfaces; immediately sweep or
blow any granules back onto the lawn.
Fertilizer, compost, grass clippings
and tree leaves all contain nutrients.
As such, it is irresponsible to leave
any of them on impervious surfaces
where they can move unimpeded
into storm drains.
BMP#8: Mow high, and follow the
1/3 rule.
This BMP is all about maintaining
density and high biomass on your
lawn: both factors increase water-flow
resistance, slowing runoff and increasing infiltration. Mowing turf at the
higher end of recommended ranges
(3"–4" for bluegrass and fescue;
1.5"–2.5" for bermudagrass and zoysiagrass) will accomplish this, while also
providing a deeper-rooted, more
stress-tolerant lawn.
Mowing high also means you can
mow less frequently without breaking
the 1/3 rule. The 1/3 rule is to never
remove more than 33% (1/3) of the
grass height at one mowing. Repeatedly
removing too much at each mowing
(e.g., mowing a 5" lawn down to 2" =
60% removal) results in a shallow root
system that produces turf thinning and
weed invasion. For fescue lawns, not
breaking the 1/3 rule means mowing
back to a 3" height each time the lawn
reaches 4.5".
BMP#9: Leave clippings on the
lawn, removing any that reach
impervious surfaces.
Grass clippings contain 2% to 5% N
and about 0.5% P, and they break down
quickly, re-releasing these nutrients for
root uptake. Clipping return can serve
as an organic fertilizer, providing more
than 1 lb. N/1,000 ft2/yr.
Left on the street, however, these
nutrients can quickly move into storm
drains to pollute the Bay. If large
clipping clumps accumulate, either
rake them up and compost them onsite, or mow the lawn in 2–3 directions
to disperse them.
BMP#10: Mulch tree leaves into
the lawn and clean up any that
accumulate on impervious surfaces.
Studies at Michigan State, Purdue and
Cornell have documented that mulching a 2" to 5" layer of deciduous tree
leaves onto cool-season lawns for three
to five consecutive autumns had no
significant effects on lawn health or
vigor. These studies also reported no
increases in thatch or undue reduction in soil pH due to this practice.
Recycling tree leaves back into
your lawn is safer for the environment than piling them on the street
and risking the loss of N and P to
stormwater run-off. Mowing when
the leaves are dry mulches them
much more effectively.
BMP#11: Irrigate only if severe
drought persists and threatens to
significantly reduce turf cover.
Adherence to the first 10 BMPs should
result in a fairly deep-rooted lawn that
should recover from summer droughts
of two to three weeks. Droughts of
more than four weeks could result in
the loss of some turf cover, especially if
there is any traffic on the lawn during
drought-dormancy. In this case, lawn
cover should be preserved by applying
0.75" to 1" of water per week until
rainfall returns.
BMP#12: Use pesticides only when
weed, insect or disease levels threaten
to significantly thin the lawn; strictly
follow label directions.
Careful application of the preceding
BMPs to ensure a dense, healthy lawn
should greatly minimize the need
for pesticides.
For homeowners who wish to have
lawns that are environmentally friendly
or more sustainable than what current
suburban development gives them,
there are two primary choices: take
what you are given and improve it by
following these 12 BMPs, or start over
by improving the soil and establishing
a no-mow prairie and herbaceous/
woody perennial landscape. Simply
stopping all management inputs and
calling it a “Freedom Lawn” is easy
and cheap, but it may ultimately be
irresponsible. Journal of the Virginia Turfgrass Council
| 23
Professional Matters
wouldn’t mention it. If you object to
something the Boss has said, or if you
have a different opinion, it’s often a
good idea to present your objections
as questions. For example, “What do
you think of this possibility?” or “Is
this other idea a possible alternative?”
And if bad news crops up, don’t be
afraid to tell the Boss quickly. Bad news
simply doesn’t age well. A Boss who
discovers bad news on his own is an
unhappy Boss.
Solve your own problems.
By Raleigh F. Seay Jr., Ph.D., Seay Management
Make your boss look good.
business today, whether
we refer to the person in
charge as the boss, supervisor, general manager, athletic director,
mister or ma’am, we know that our primary job is to please the Boss, and we
know that our work lives will be much
easier, happier and more profitable if
we are successful. On the other hand, if
the Boss is unhappy, there’s a fairly high
likelihood that we will be unhappy, also.
Someone once told me about the “Two
Rules of Boss Management” —
1. The Boss is always right.
2. If the Boss is wrong, refer to rule #1.
Toward that end, here are some
suggestions to help you create a
Happy Boss.
ing. This irritates the Boss, is impolite
and sends a negative message to others.
In presenting facts where a decision
is required, present the information
so that your point is obvious, without
being dogmatic about it. If possible,
let the Boss express all or part of the
solution as his or her idea. Often, a
good approach is to offer several
options with a list of possibilities,
including the pros and cons, and
allow the Boss to choose.
Never reject a Boss’s idea out of
hand or in front of others — after all,
the Boss thinks it’s a good idea, or he
The Boss should be able to imply,
and we should consider it an order.
For example, if the Boss says, “I would
like for thus and so to happen,” consider that a directive and do what is
necessary to make it happen. Bosses
like people who don’t have to be told
things twice, and if the Boss has the
sense that you listen and pay close
attention, you’ll have a happier Boss.
Also, as you listen, be careful not to
interrupt the Boss as he or she is talk-
Bosses have poor opinions of people
who present problems and ask the Boss
to solve them, so it’s usually not a good
idea to go to the Boss for answers unless
you have come to a stone wall and do
not know where else to go. Present
the problems with your recommended
solutions, and ask for any additional
ideas he or she may have.
Be concise.
When meeting with the Boss, be as brief
as you can. Be clear (not fancy), and
utilize economy of words in spoken and
written communications. Be direct but
diplomatic, particularly when communicating by email. Experts tell us that we
should take as much care with an email
as we would do with a letter, in terms
of tone, grammar and good writing
skills, such as using complete sentences
instead of short phrases. A too-short
email can be misunderstood as brusque,
so try to balance clarity and diplomacy.
Be diplomatic.
This principle is the epicenter of good
Boss Management. In a meeting, be
sure the Boss has all of the facts in
advance, and let the Boss do the talking and receive the attention. Coach
Landry once said, “It’s amazing what
a person can accomplish when it
doesn’t matter who gets the credit.”
So, if you let the Boss take credit for
the work or ideas that come from you
or your department, there’s a good
chance that he or she will look after
you down the road.
Accentuate the positive.
Successful managers are almost always
positive thinkers, and most bosses
detest negativism in any form. As Henry
Ford once remarked, “Whether you
think you can or whether you think
you can’t — you’re right.” Bosses
hate complainers, so we should make
it an absolute rule — never complain.
Never. The Boss may have pressures
that we don’t know about, so always
keep things positive and upbeat. This
makes for a Happy Boss.
Keep your promises.
If you tell the Boss that you will do
something at a certain time, then you
must do it; otherwise, your Boss will
come to think of you as undependable.
Your Boss needs to know that you are
completely reliable, no matter what the
circumstances, and that he or she can
take that to the bank. This virtue is solid
gold currency for a Boss because it is
so rare.
Have a good relationship,
but don’t get too close.
Some bosses like warmth, friendliness
and first names, others are more aloof,
and a good many bosses fall somewhere
in the middle. For the most part, it’s a
good idea not to get involved with the
Boss’s personal life, as this can be
Trouble waiting to happen. Confidences
may be exchanged and later regretted
by both parties, and it may foster mistrust or suspicion among co-workers.
If you’re reading this article, there’s a
good chance that you’re multi-tasking —
on the one hand, you work for a Boss;
on the other hand, you probably are a
Boss. These principles will help you
achieve success in both categories. Journal of the Virginia Turfgrass Council
| 27
Index of
Calendar of Events
Turf Industry Events
May 24
June 28
January 16–19, 2012
Pesticide Recertification
Gypsy Hill Park Gymnasium
Staunton, VA
Turfgrass Field Day and
Pesticide Recertification
Hampton Roads AREC
Virginia Beach, VA
VTC 52nd Annual
Turf & Landscape
Conference and Trade Show
Fredericksburg Expo &
Conference Center
Fredericksburg, VA
June 7
Bob Ruff Jr. Memorial
Golf Tournament
Wintergreen Lower Course
Wintergreen, VA
June 14
Pesticide Recertification
Bruton Heights Bldg.
Williamsburg, VA
July 19
Pesticide Recertification
Expo and Conference Center
Fredericksburg, VA
July 18–22
TPI Summer Convention
& Field Days
(Turfgrass Producers
Reno, NV
BASF . . . . . . . Inside Front Cover
Bayer . . . . . 17, Inside Back Cover
Buy Sod . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20, 21
Collins Wharf Sod Farm . . . . 11
E & S Soil and Peat . . . . . . . . 22
East Coast Sod & Seed . . . . . 25
Egypt Farms, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Ernst Conservation Seeds . . . . . .9
Growth Products, Ltd. . . . . . . . . 23
Harrell’s Custom Fertilizer . . . . . 5
Herod Seeds, Inc. . . . . Back Cover
Kesmac/Brouwer Inc. . . . . . . . . 28
Luck Stone
Specialty Products . . . . . . . . . 27
Mid-Atlantic Sports Turf . . . . 22
Modern Turf, Inc. . . . . . . . . . 30
Oakwood Sod Farm, Inc. . . . 11
Quali-Pro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Revels Tractor Co. Inc. . . . . . . . 29
Roxbury Farm &
Garden Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Southern States Cooperative . . 13
Texas Sod Leasing . . . . . . . . . 27
The Turfgrass Group . . . . . 7, 24
Winfield Solutions, LLC . . . . . . . 9
Wood Bay Turf Technologies . . 16
Woodward Turf Farm Inc. . . . . . 6
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