Lawn and Garden Impact: Turf Workshop

Issue: Lawns are often accused of being a source of non-point source pollution when they are treated with herbicides, insecticides and fungicides and over-fertilized.  But lawns managed properly can enhance a landscape by providing play areas, gathering spaces, traffic flow and the carpet that shows off the rest of the landscape plantings.  Lawns are so important to the landscape, that lawn areas should be selected first when a landscape is being designed and then all the rest of the space should be planted to trees, shrubs and ground-covers.  Homes with ½ acre or more of land can even incorporate meadows and woods into the home landscape.

Response: A group of landscape professionals learned about how to design landscapes to use turf purposely and then how to manage that turf sustainably at a recent Turf Workshop held at the New Castle County Extension office and at the Carvel Center in Georgetown, via Adobe Connect.

At the end of the workshop, 32  participants completed an evaluation.

Participants learned:

  • How to diagnose and control insects and diseases of turf, especially appropriate time for control
  • Cultural information such as type of grass to use in DE, reasons for fertilizing in the fall (rather than spring), the use of a buffer around bodies of water, and the suggestion to reduce turf and save money by mowing less
  • Some attendees were introduced to the new certification program for sustainable lawn care – Delaware Livable Lawns
  • 87.5 % of respondents said what they learned will impact their lawn care practices.  Even attendees who already knew much of the material covered thought it was good to be reminded of sustainable practices (12.5%)

Respondents said they will change their lawn care management practices by:

  • Adjusting fertilizer timing to the fall
  • Conducting soil tests
  • Implementing IPM (integrated pest management) practices
  • Using the website to track growing degree days for better insect control timing
  • Using less turf
  • Using compost
  • Cleaning up grass clippings.

Program Impact:

72% of respondents said they will change their practices;19% are already implementing the practices covered in the workshop; and 9% said there would be “no change.”  This was the first landscape horticulture workshop to use the Adobe Connect technology and workshop participants were pleased by the technology.  77% said it enhanced the workshop and 23% said the technology did not have any impact (i.e. there was no different between the live and broadcast talks).  Many thought the technology would help Cooperative Extension offer more training session to more Delawareans and there would be less need to travel to another county for training.

Visit the Lawn and Garden, and Commercial Horticulture portions of the UD Cooperative Extension website for more information and additional resources.

Submitted by Susan Barton, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Plant and Soil Sciences/Horticulture