When it comes to growing turf that can withstand the stresses of summer, it is important to start at the root… literally. The deeper the roots grow, the more access they have to water and nutrients, which enables the grass to grow and thrive. Furthermore, the roots of grasses anchor the plants in the soil and provide crucial stability, allowing the grass to stay upright even against the most strenuous conditions. And in times of drought, grasses with deeper root systems can better withstand the dry weather, as they have access to water that is stored deeper in the soil. But healthy roots don’t just appear – optimal root health needs to be cultivated. And understanding how to do so may make the difference in your turf surviving the harsh scenarios that summer is bound to throw at it.
Soil temperature plays a vital role in the growth and development of your roots. Grass roots tend to grow best in soil temperatures between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. During this temperature range, the soil is warm enough to stimulate root growth, but not so warm that it becomes too dry or lacks sufficient oxygen for root respiration.
In cooler temperatures, root growth may be slower, but the grass is still able to maintain healthy roots and continue to grow. In contrast, when soil temperatures get too warm, the grass roots may become dormant, which may lead your grasses to stop growing, and discoloration to occur.
Don't Forget to Hydrate!
Maintaining adequate soil moisture is also important for developing healthy roots. When roots have proper access to water and nutrients, you are setting them up for success. However, overwatering or waterlogging can lead to shallow root growth and may increase susceptibility to diseases.
When soil is overwatered, it becomes saturated and the excess water displaces oxygen. This lack of oxygen can cause roots to suffocate and die off, leading to shallow root growth and weakened plants. Additionally, overwatering can also wash away essential nutrients from the soil, reducing your grass’ access to them. On the other hand, if the soil becomes too dry, the roots will not be able to access enough water, and the grass may wilt or turn brown. This can also lead to stunted growth.
To ensure your soil has the proper levels of moisture, it is important to water the grass deeply and infrequently, rather than frequently and shallowly. This encourages deep root growth and helps to establish a strong root system. It is also important to water at the right time of day, typically early in the morning, to avoid excess moisture and reduce the risk of diseases. Some great tools to keep on hand are rain gauges and soil moisture meters, which can help you monitor moisture levels and avoid over- or underwatering.
A Well-Balanced Diet
Providing your grass with adequate nutrients is important for healthy root growth. By applying proper amounts of fertilizer, you will provide your grass with ample amounts of macronutrients that the grasses require relatively large quantities of. But it is also important not to over-fertilize your grasses, so following recommended guidelines for fertilizing, including timing, application rates, and choosing the right fertilizer for your specific grass and soil types is critical.
One product that aids in developing dense, healthy roots is CytoGro®. This seaweed extract contains substances that stimulate root growth, improve stress tolerance, and increase durability. It also contains hormone cofactors that allow it to still be effective when applied at low rates.
Another product that will help yield strong roots is Rusty’s™ 2-0-1. This natural-based fertilizer enhances the uptake of nutrients into the plant, promoting root vitality and overall health. It aids in quick recovery growth and reduces common plant stress symptoms. Rusty’s 2-0-1 can be combined with other nutrient solutions for positive compounded results. It is recommended to apply Rusty’s™ 2-0-1 before AND after events that could cause plant stress.
According to Bio Pro, CytoGro promotes healthier root systems, enhances growth, speeds up recovery, increases stress tolerance, and maximizes nutrient uptake. It also improves salinity tolerance and minimizes frost damage. It works effectively on all turf and plants and is affordable and easy to use.
Proper Cultural Practices Lead to Optimal Root Growth
Every course is different, and they all require their own unique set of maintenance practices to ensure they remain in peak health and playability. Whether it’s proper mowing and topdressing, irrigating at correct frequencies and levels, or tackling pests and diseases that may arise, understanding what it takes to keep your course vibrant during the summer is no simple feat. It’s important to not overlook the critical role that soil temperature, proper hydration, and ample nutrition play in the health and appearance of your turf. Remember, healthy roots lead to healthy turf, and healthy turf leads to happy golfers. Contact your Reinders rep today, and we’ll be happy to assist you in developing a plan to ensure your course doesn’t just survive but thrives this summer.
Check out our Turf & Landscaping library to read more help you further plan for the summer season!