Thursday, March 27, 2008

Superintendent Speak The Final Volume

This is the end of a three part series of the most commonly used turfgrass phrases or terminologies. I hope this helps you have a better understanding of the technical terms that I often use to describe things taking place on the golf course.


Native Grasses
Grasses that are indigenous or that occur naturally in a particular region.

A substance used to destroy nematodes.

Small, round worms, usually microscopic and colorless, that live free in moist soil, water or decaying or living organic matter. Parasitic forms puncture plant tissues and live by sucking the juice of the plant.

The joint of a grass stem from which leaves and buds arise.

Noxious Weeds
Weeds categorized by law as objectionable in a seed lot for commercial sale.

An area set aside for testing new turfgrass cultivars and chemicals and for growing replacement turf for the golf course.

Nutrients, Plant
The elements taken in by the plant, essential to its growth and used in elaboration of food and tissue.


Organic Fertilizer
Fertilizers that contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, as well as needed nutrients. Organic fertilizers can come from naturally occurring sources or be made synthetically.

Organic Matter
Decomposed material derived from plant or animal sources. An important component of topsoil often added to topdressing soil mixtures to give added water-holding capacity and exchange capacity to the soil.

To sow seed over an area that is sparsely covered or to plant cool-season grasses into dormant warm-season turfgrass swards for a temporary, green winter cover, to convert species.


An organism causing disease.

Unconsolidated soil material consisting largely of undecomposed or only slightly decomposed organic matter accumulated under conditions of excess moisture.

A measure of the ease with which air, roots and water penetrate the soil.

Perennial Grasses
Lasting or continuing from year to year in areas where adapted.

A substance used to destroy pests such as weeds, insects or diseases.

A measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a material or solution. pH ranges from 0 to 14. Values below 7 are increasingly acid; above 7, increasingly alkaline.

Harmful to plants.

Stands for plant growth regulator. A chemical that can slow the growth of turfgrass.

The vegetative propagation of turfgrass by means of plugs or small sod pieces. A method of establishing vegetatively propagated turfgrasses, as well as repairing damaged areas.

Poa is the genus of all bluegrasses. Pratensis is the species name for Kentucky bluegrass. Poa annua is annual bluegrass. There's also Poa trivialis (rough bluegrass) and Poa compressa (Canada bluegrass).

Pore Space
That space between solid soil particles or aggregates that is normally filled with water, air or grass roots.

A term used in reference to herbicide treatment made after weed seedlings have emerged from the soil.

A term used in reference to treatments made before weed seedlings emerge from the soil.

Profile, Soil
A cross-section of soil that shows the layers or horizons lying above the unweathered parent material.

Pythium Blight
A highly destructive turfgrass disease that can totally destroy a turfgrass stand in less than 24 hours. Pythium blight most commonly occurs under conditions of high temperature and humidity.


A term that refers to practices involving complete changes in the total turf area, i.e., reconstruction of a green, tee, fairway, rough or any other area of the golf course.

Turf improvement involving replanting into existing live and/or dead vegetation.

The capability of the turf to spring back when balls, shoes or other objects strike the surface, thus providing a cushioning effect.

An underground, root-like stem; underground creeping stem.


Saline Soils
Soils in which there is a heavy accumulation of salts.

Turf damage occurring under conditions of excessive water, high temperatures and intense light.

Cutting into or below the crown of the grass plant while mowing. Continued scalping will weaken or kill the turf.

Seed Bed
An area of soil prepared for seeding.

A plant grown from seed; usually refers to a young plant.

Selective Herbicide
One that can be applied to a mixed stand of turfgrass and weeds that will selectively kill certain weeds without injuring the turfgrasses.

A form of cultivation involving a deep, vertical-cutting action that is used to open the soil as well as the turf.

Plugs, blocks, squares or strips of turfgrass with roots used for vegetative planting.

The installation of sod.

Soil Modification
Alteration of soil characteristics by adding soil amendments such as sand, peat, lime, etc.; commonly used to improve physical and chemical conditions.

Soil Probe
A tool used to remove a deep core from turf areas to examine root development, thatch depth, topsoil depth, soil arrangement and soil moisture.

Soil Sterilant
A chemical that renders soil free of living organisms.

Soil Testing
The analysis of soil samples for chemical and/or physical properties.

Soil Texture
The coarseness or fineness of the soil. Sand is coarse-textured; clay is fine-textured.

An established classification into which similar individuals in the plant or animal kingdom are placed. A species is described as a morphologically distinctive and genetically isolated natural population.

The act of perforating turf and soil crust by the use of solid tines, spikes or blades for the purpose of aerating the soil.

Spray Drift
The movement of small spray particles away from the target area.

To treat soil chemically or by heat to kill disease organisms, weed seeds and insects.

An implement used to measure the speed of putting greens.

Creeping stems or runners aboveground that may produce roots and new stems and become independent plants.

A pattern left on turfgrass - usually a fairway or a green - using lightweight mowing equipment. Its main purpose is a pleasing appearance. Patterns are the result of light reflected from blades of grass lying in different directions because they have been mowed in different directions.

That part of the soil profile below plow depth. Usually considered unsatisfactory for plant growth.

An agent that reduces surface tension of liquids on plant materials or in the soil. Wetting agents are common examples.

Lacking inherent ability to resist. Turf may be susceptible to diseases, insect damage or weed encroachment.

The action of one chemical upon another causing an accelerated action or a result that neither one alone could produce.

Light sprinkling of water on turf, usually done during the hot part of the day to prevent wilting. Only enough water is applied to wet the leaves, not the soil.


Teeing Ground
The starting place for the hole to be played. It is a rectangular area two club lengths in depth, the front and the sides of which are defined by the outside limits of two tee markers.

Texture, Grass
The width of individual leaves. A narrow-leaved grass like creeping bentgrass is considered fine-textured. A wide-leaved grass like some tall fescues is considered coarse-textured.

A tightly intermingled layer of dead and decaying roots, stolons, shoots and stems that develops between the green vegetation and soil surface.

The ability of a plant to withstand the effects of adverse conditions, chemicals or parasites.

A prepared mixture usually containing sand and organic matter used for leveling and smoothing the playing surface. It acts as an aid in controlling thatch and in maintaining biological balance. Topdressing is also used to cover stolons or sprigs in vegetative planting.

A general term applied to the top natural layer of soil.

Quality, state or degree of being toxic; poisonous.

Transition Zone
Commonly referred to as the geographical zone that is too far north to easily grow warm-season grasses and too far south to easily grow cool-season grasses.

The movement of water vapor out of a plant through leaf openings.

Triplex Mower
A machine for closely cutting greens involving a small power unit propelling three precision reel mowers, usually in front. Triplex mowers are also used widely on tees and fairways.


In classification, a subdivision of species. Differing from the remainder of the species in one or more recognizable and heritable characteristics.

Vegetative Propagation
Propagation by means of pieces of vegetation, i.e., sprigs or sod pieces.

The green, living plant material remaining after mowing.

Vertical Mowing (verticutting)
The thinning of turfgrasses by blades or wire tines that cut perpendicular to the soil surface. Specifically designed to remove mat, thatch and grain from greens and to thin dense turf.


Warm-Season Grasses
Among the best known are bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass, zoysiagrass, bahiagrass, carpetgrass and centipedegrass. Bermudagrass is the most popular for greens. Warm-season grasses grow at their optimal rate between 75 F and 95 F.

Plants out of place; undesirable or unwanted plants.

Wettable Powder
A dry powdered formulation of a pesticide that is applied as a suspension in water.

A loss of freshness and turgidity. Drooping of leaves due to inadequate water supply or excessive transpiration. Also a vascular disease that interferes with utilization of water by a plant.

Winterkill (injury)
The general term applied to injuries of turf from a variety of causes that occur during the winter and become evident in spring.