Your Essential Pitch Care Glossary

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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, in scientific terms, the process by which a substance is taken by cells, and in the case of plants, it is how fertilisers and pesticides are taken up into plant and root tisses. , usually through pore spaces in the absorbing substance.

What is the Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC)? Cation Exchange Capacity is a soil’s capacity to hold exchangeable positive ions (or cations). The Cation Exchange Capacity therefore influences a particular soil’s ability to retain certain nutrients and exchange nutrients between the soil surface and soil solution. Understanding the CEC of a particular soil is essential, most specifically for establishing how much fertiliser is required for your particular turf. If your soil has a high CEC, you will need to fertilise less frequently or you will risk over-fertilising the turf. Soils with a low CEC may often have low nutrient levels. 

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 soil from turf or a playing surface. This allows compacted soil to aerate and expand, allowing both air and moisture to absorb with greater ease. Other benefits of hollow coring or tining include reduction of thatch buildup and removing accumulated fibre from the grass root zone. 

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.

Thatch describes the dead grass, debris and other organic matter than accumulates on a turf surface to form a mat. It periodically requires raking away before it has chance to negatively impact soil aeration and health.

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.

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