When planning a care programme for your playing surface, you may stumble across terms that leave you asking what does that mean? Here at Turfcare Specialists, we use a wide variety of processes to maintain playing surfaces to help keep them in tip-top condition, whatever the weather throws at us. To help you understand some of the maintenance processes we use, our team have put together a helpful glossary of turf care terms that you may be unfamiliar with.
Pitch Care Glossary – Top Terms
What is abiotic? Abiotic refers to physical processes, factors and components which are non-living by their nature. Abiotic components that could influence soil include sunlight, oxygen, temperature, and water.
What is absorption? Absorption is the penetration of a substance into the surface layer of a solid with which it is in contact e.g., the process by which pesticides are taken into plant tissues by roots or foliage.
What is the Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC)? Cation Exchange Capacity is a rating of how well soil or other types of grow media can hold plant nutrients. In the case of the CEC, plant nutrients are measured as cations, and examples of cations include potassium, calcium, and other positively charged ions. Knowing the CEC of your soil or grow medium is important for several reasons, but the primary one is for fertilisation. Higher CECs mean that fertilisation needs to occur much less frequently, or you risk over-fertilising the turf. Soil with a low cation exchange capacity is generally poor in nutrients.
What is consolidation? Consolidation describes the process whereby soil decreases in volume, usually due to the soil losing water. This loss of water is usually caused by stress, which compacts the soil and squeezes water from it.
What is deep tine aeration? Deep tine aeration is the process of using a special machine to penetrate deep into the soil to create channels. This has a number of benefits, including the increase of water percolation, stimulation of root growth, reduction of compaction, and improvement of drainage.
What is dethatching? Dethatching is the process of reducing the layer of thatch (dead grass and debris) between the soil and the grass blades in your playing surface.
What is drag matting/muting? Drag matting/luting is the process of evenly spreading loam, or dressing sand and seed, across the surface of your soil to achieve balanced levels.
What is hollow coring/tining? Hollow coring/tining is the process of removing cores of playing surface. Hollow coring/tining allows compacted turf to expand, and air and moisture to be more easily absorbed. The process also helps address the problem of thatch. A thin layer is acceptable but too much thatch will hold water like a sponge. Hollow coring/tining also removes accumulated fibre in the grass root zone, allowing for the exchange of a poor soil for a better one through top dressing.
What is hydrojecting? Hydrojecting is an aeration process that works in a similar way to tining, but injects a high pressure jet of water to penetrate the compacted surface. Because this does not disturb the surface, the Hydroject can be used throughout the playing season. Best results are obtained when applying a wetting agent along with the water while the aerating the soil surface.
What is laser grading? Laser grading is the process of using laser technology, namely a beam of light, to move soil so that slopes and directions are exact – this prevents ponding water, which is detrimental to turf root growth. Laser-Grader uses an automated laser-guided control system that has the ability to grade materials to within a 1/8 inch, over a distance of three football fields.
What are macronutrients? Macronutrients refer to nutrients that vegetation requires in large amounts to maintain good health. Macronutrients include nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulphur and magnesium.
What are micronutrients? Micronutrients refer to nutrients that vegetation requires in small, trace amounts in order to maintain good health. Micronutrients include boron, iron, copper, zinc, chlorine, and manganese.
What is overseeding? Overseeding is the process of seeding existing turf without affecting the structural integrity of the turf.
What is the rhizosphere? The rhizosphere describes the area of soil surrounding plant roots in which processes are slightly different than those in the main bulk of soil outside the rhizosphere.
What is deep scarification? Deep scarification is a dethatching process whereby blades are placed into the soil to remove thatch, moss, fibres and debris. This helps prevent problems with water infiltration in the soil by removing this troublesome layer of thatch.
What is soil degradation? Soil degradation is the decline in soil quality that can be due to multiple different factors, including poor management, environmental conditions or human activities. Telltale signs of soil degradation include loss of soil fertility, flooding, wilting vegetation, erosion or changes in chemical makeup.
What is top dressing? Top dressing is quite simply the process of adding sand, loa or root zone (a sand/soil mix) to your playing surface.
What is thatch? Thatch is a layer of dead and living grass shoots, stems and roots that shows up between the soil and grass blades on a lawn. Thatch build-up starts when the turf produces organic debris faster than it can be broken down. Too much thatch is considered to be over half an inch, and will make the playing surface feel ‘spongy’ underfoot. As well as feeling like a sponge, it can also act like a sponge by withholding valuable water, air and nutrients needed by the roots. Conversely, too little thatch is not sufficient to hold valuable nutrients away from the soil and grass roots but is enough to cushion and protect the valuable crowns of the grass plant and insulate the soil from the drying effects of wind and sun. A quarter of an inch is a beneficial amount of thatch.
Here at Turfcare Specialists, we deliver a comprehensive range of maintenance techniques to help keep your turf in prime health. Established over 30 years ago, our reputation has strengthened over the years, and we are now recognised as a leading pitch and turf care provider for the North East, Cumbria and North Yorkshire. Contact us today to discover more.