Oklahoma State University Turfgrass Science

Best Turfgrass Management Practices for Environmental Protection

Best Turfgrass Management Practices for Environmental Protection, Justin Quetone Moss, Associate Professor, OSU Turfgrass Science, Oklahoma State University

Best Turfgrass Management Practices for Environmental Protection


Justin Quetone Moss, Associate Professor


When developing and implementing a turfgrass and landscape management program, environmental fate of pesticides and nutrients should be an important consideration. There are many benefits to healthy turfgrass stands and landscaped areas, but they must be managed properly in order to reduce the chances for off-target and off-site movement of pesticides and fertilizers. One of the best methods for reducing losses is a dense and healthy stand of turfgrass. Frequent monitoring for pests and damage, relatively frequent soil and water testing, and development of economic threshold levels is also important. In addition, properly reading and following labeled directions for any pesticide applications is a must. The following best environmental practices and tips for turfgrass and landscape management is adapted from the McCarty et al. (2003).


1.     Do not disturb sensitive wildlife areas and wetlands during design and construction of the area.

2.     Take all necessary steps to prevent soil losses and to manage stormwater during and after construction of the site.

3.     Develop an integrated pest management plan for the site.

4.     Use the right plants in the right place. Select native and adapted plants that require less inputs over time.

5.     Use proper cultural practices to maintain a dense, healthy turf stand with an extensive and deep root system.

6.     When pesticides are used, select those that have a lower overall active ingredient use rate with the lowest toxicity, leaching/runoff potential, and volatility.

7.     Read the pesticide label and only use labeled rates at the proper timing.

8.     Always base nutrient applications on soil testing results and use less soluble or slow-release products when possible.

9.     Only apply pesticides and fertilizers when conditions are favorable for proper placement.

10. Use backflow prevention and prevent back-siphoning into the water source/hose when filling pesticide sprayers.

11. Do not spray or mix pesticides near surface water sources.

12. Properly dispose of pesticides according to local, state, and federal laws.

13. Use vegetative or turfgrass buffer strips as living filters around all surface water bodies.

14. Create untreated or no-spray zones adjacent to all surface water bodies.

15. Irrigate at a rate to infiltrate and moisten the soil, but do not irrigate at heavy rates that could produce surface runoff.

16. Do not apply pesticides or fertilizers immediately prior to expected rainfall or heavy storms.

17. Lightly water-in/irrigate all fertilizer applications with 0.1 to 0.2 inches of water. Water-in pesticide applications if warranted and allowable on the pesticide label.

18. Use mulching mowers and return grass clippings to the turf area when possible. Do not leave turf clippings or leaves on hardscapes, but sweep them or blow them back into the lawn area to avoid losses in stormwater runoff.

19. Routinely check and calibrate pesticide sprayers and fertilizer spreaders.

20. Keep detailed and accurate application records.

21. Provide regular self-training and make sure all employees understand how to properly handle, mix, and use pesticides and fertilizers.




McCarty, L.B., I.R. Rodriguez, B.T. Bunnell, and F.C. Waltz. 2003. Fundamentals of turfgrass and agricultural chemistry. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

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