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School IPM Best Practices

Outdoor BMPs: Low-maintenance Turf (lawns and practice fields)

Best Management Practices for Low-maintenance Turf

Integrated pest management is the practice of using knowledge, monitoring, recordkeeping, and communication to reduce pest risk with the least amount of pesticide use possible.

BMPs for Low-maintenance Turf:

  • Understand the nature of the weed: what is its life-cycle? How does it spread? Why does it favor this type of site?
  • Determine threshold for weed tolerance. (Examples: clover: any amount is okay; other broadleaf weeds: control if cover exceeds 50%.)
  • Learn to recognize a grassy weed from a broadleaf weed
  • Establish a management plan for long-term success based on thresholds and treatment options
  • Understand how frequent soil disturbance can deter some weeds and encourage others
  • Choose the right grass for the site’s use; learn what grass tolerates your fields’ conditions
  • Irrigate if necessary—generally 1" a week if there is no rain, or allow to go dormant if unused during summer
  • Maintain proper pH (6.0–6.5); test soil every 3–5 years on moderate-care turf. For most lawns and low-maintenance turf, test soil at establishment and before renovation.
  • Fertilize in fall for root growth and again in spring, using slow release N if soil test results indicate need. Many lawns rarely, if ever, need fertilizer.
  • Mow at highest setting for intended use. Leave clippings whenever possible—use mulching mower if available. Do not remove more than 1/3 of plant height at each mowing. Keep mower blades sharp.
  • Overseed thin spots and reseed bare soil. Early fall is best time.
  • Scout for and monitor changes; record incidence of weeds, diseases, and insect pests in turf
  • Reduce thatch, if needed, to reduce incidence of some molds and insect infestations
  • Aerate once every other year, or more often if heavily used (such as playground areas)

Common Pests

Resources (PDFs)

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