At the start of the 20th century, turf care practitioners learned by trial and error from real experiences in the field and made decisions based on their best instincts and experiences. Most had been farmers or had agricultural experience. A few may even have had college-level knowledge of agricultural soils and botany, but were limited to general agricultural production. It really was more art than science.
In the mid-1900s, the university community was tasked with providing scientific and technical training to those already working in the turf management industry (primarily golf courses and sports fields). Today, universities in every state in the union and most countries provide opportunities for high-level technical and scientific training in turf management. Around the same time, the United States Department of Agriculture recognized the need for more technical and practical information and created the National Turf Assessment Program. This program funded turf trials and evaluations of new turf species at land-grant universities across the country. This in turn spawned an entirely new industry that was dedicated to developing improved turf species that were more resistant to environmental stresses, more durable, used less water, less fertilizer, and had better resistance to pest infestations. pests. The United States Golf Association, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, numerous landscape maintenance associations, numerous land-grant universities and dozens of commercial interests continue to invest millions of dollars each year to perpetuate this research and development. Today’s professional turf practitioners are now more scientists than artists.
Home and business practitioners have directly benefited from this professional and scientific development. Owners recognize the benefits of having a well-designed and expertly maintained landscape, as well as well-designed and expertly maintained interior living and business spaces. It adds value. The “curb appeal” of a well-maintained landscape is recognized as adding monetary value to a property and demonstrating that the owner takes pride in a clean and well-maintained property, both inside and out. Since turf most often encompasses the largest area of any landscape, it has a major impact on these ratings and impressions.
In addition to adding monetary and aesthetic value to a property, a well-designed and maintained lawn can provide many environmental benefits. An average sized home lawn can provide a greater ambient cooling effect than an average sized home air conditioning unit. Now, if only we could figure out how to exploit this, we could all save some money! Just walk barefoot on their asphalt driveway in mid-August day and then walk on their lawn to judge the climate impacts of each.
A healthy lawn, mowed to an appropriate cutting height, also reduces the presence of ticks, snakes and other critters that may not play well with family members or may burrow into the ground around foundations. of a structure. Nuisance weeds that affect allergy sufferers are also kept in check by a well-maintained lawn. Lawns provide a measure of noise pollution reduction. Lawns are also an important source of conversion of CO2 into oxygen. An estimated 40 million acres of turf in the United States mitigate more than 12 teragrams of carbon each year and filter more than 12 million tons of dust, pollen, pollutants and particles from our air and water.
Surely there is a financial cost to maintaining lawns properly. It is always prudent to investigate alternative vegetative and non-vegetative covers during the maintenance planning process. Once a lawn area has been established with improved grass varieties, tested soils, balanced nutrients and proper cultural management practices followed, the lawn areas will be an asset and a source of pride for the homeowner. and for the whole district.
Charles A. Murray, CGCS (retired) has been a member of the Golf Course Superintendents of America and the West Virginia Golf Course Superintendents for 49 years. He is a past president of the WVGCSA and served for 13 years on its board of directors. He has held the distinction of GCSAA Certified Golf Course Superintendent since 1985. As a member of GCSAA, he holds certifications in Integrated Pest Management and Environmental Stewardship. He is a graduate of Penn State University’s Turf Management Program. A practitioner in the grounds maintenance industry for over 56 years, he has maintained turf and landscapes at resorts, municipal recreation facilities, private country clubs and public institutions. During his tenure as Superintendent of Charleston’s Edgewood Country Club, the facility earned the distinction of being the first golf course in West Virginia to be fully certified as a Cooperative Wildlife Sanctuary by the International Audubon Society. of New York State. Audubon Certification is recognition, in seven comprehensive categories, of a golf course property’s commitment to responsible environmental management.