Landscape Contractor / Design Build Maintain

SEP 2018

LC/DBM provides landscape contractors with Educational, Imaginative and Practical information about their business, their employees, their machines and their projects.

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by Robert L. Green, Ph.D., Plant Science Dept., Cal Poly Pomona Above Mowing serves cultural and physiological purposes to maintain the quality and function of turfgrasses. Whether the turf is providing a lush patch for children to play or creating recreational areas such as sports fields or putting greens, mow- ing practices can affect both the aesthetic quality and health of turfgrasses. Robert Green, Ph.D., of Cal Poly Pomona ana- lyzed mowing practices and turfgrasses in a study on the affects of mowing. PHOTO: TORO M Mowing is a primary cultural practice on turfgrasses to sustain quality and function, in terms of providing an area that is aesthetically pleasing with uniform appearance. Mowing is also functional by providing recreational areas and a playing surface, such as with a baseball field where bounce of the ball is important or on putting greens where a true putting surface is needed. Mowing is interrelated to other cul - tural practices, such as irrigation, fertilization, and pesticide applications, along with season and climate. Basically, mowing removes a portion of shoots including leaves and stems. Physiologi - cally, mowing removes tissue that is involved in the production of carbohydrates through the process of photosynthesis and tissue that is in - volved in the production of plant hormones, which regulate plant growth. Mowing is a form of plant stress. Turf Adaptations Grazing as a form of mowing is not new to turfgrasses. There were concurrent evolutionary developments of grass species and grazing ani - mals beginning during the Eocene epoch, 45 to 55 million years ago. This resulted in natural se - lection toward those grasses that were morpho- logically adapted to survive close and continu- ous defoliation. One adaptation of turfgrasses that allows them to survive close, continuous defoliation is that the major growing point is lo - cated at the base of the plant, called the crown. This area is vital to the turfgrass plant because lateral shoots, adventitious roots, and leaves are initiated from this region. In contrast, broadleaf plants have their major growing point at the plant apex, which would not be well suited to defoliation, though prun - ing is fine. Another adaptation of turfgrasses is that they spread laterally by tillers, stolons, and rhizomes. This spreading ability is important for turfgrasses to form sods. Tillers are primary lateral shoots that arise from within the basal leaf sheath. Secondary lateral shoots that arise outside the basal leaf sheath and elongate hori - zontally aboveground are called stolons, while shoots that elongate underground are called rhizomes. Turfgrass species vary by type(s) of lateral stems they possess and resultant growth habits. The table on page 22 shows the relative rank - ing for nine characteristics along with other in- formation for eight common turfgrasses. 20 LC DBM Turfgrasses on the Growth of Mowing The Effects of

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