Turf Care

Course CodeBHT104
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Turf and Lawn Care Course: a foundation course through distance education

  • Work in the Turf Industry - this can be a great starting point.
  • With an understanding of lawns and lawn care; start your own lawn care business.
  • Seek employment with a golf course, sports ground or other turf facility.

When planning a new lawn, or renovating an old one, it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of different grasses, and why certain grasses are used in preference to others. The intended or actual use (and maintenance) of a particular area is the deciding factor.

For example bent grasses and fescues such as Chewings and Creeping Red can withstand lower mowing than other grasses. The bent grass strains known as Penncross and Palustris are both stoloniferous and tend to become spongy with age. If these bent are used alone or with fescues in a lawn, bowling green or golf green, annual scarifying, preening and coring is essential for their maintenance. In a park or sports oval these varieties of bent tend to colonise and form patches choking out all other grasses giving a very patchy appearance.

This course teaches you about the different grasses, the techniques used to establish them and the measures that must be taken to maintain an acceptable surface.

Lesson Structure

There are 11 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Benefits of Turf
    • History of Turf
    • Turf Varieties
    • Lawn Mixes
    • What Lawn to Grow Where
  2. Turf Grass Physiology
    • Scope and Nature of Grass
    • Morphology of a Typical Grass Plant
    • The Grass Flower
    • Identifying other Distinguishing Characteristics
    • Grass Roots
    • Grass Shoots
    • Root Shoot Ratio
    • Recuperative Potential
    • Ways of Identifying a GrassKey to Common Turf Grasses
    • Identification Tips for Rye grasses, Bents, Fescues and others
    • Descriptions of Major Warm Season Grasses; couch, zoysia, carpet grass
  3. Turf Establishment
    • Introduction
    • Soil Preparation
    • Seeding; seed quality, planting method, after planting care
    • Sodding or Instant Turf
    • Other Techniques; plugging, stolonizing, sprigging, chitted seed
    • Work Scheduling
    • Estimating Costs
  4. Soils
    • Understanding soil, introduction and texture
    • Soil Blends
    • pH, Buffering
    • Improving SoilsCalculating Quantities of Soil Needed
    • Nutrition
    • Fertilizing Turf
    • Drainage
  5. Turf Weed Problems
    • Introduction
    • How Weeds are Spread
    • Non Chemical Weed Control in Turf
    • Chemical weed Control in Turf
    • Effective and Safe Herbicide Use
  6. Turf Pests and Diseases
    • Introduction
    • Chemical and Non Chemical Control
    • Dry Patch
    • Heat Scals
    • Algae
    • Mosses
    • Chemical Contamination of Turf
    • Damping Off
    • Brown Patch
    • Fairy Rings
    • Dollar Spot
    • Rust
    • Smut
    • Pests occuring in Turf Grass
    • Review of Commonly Used Pesticides and Fungicides
    • Spraying Equipment
    • Domestic Lawn Care Program
  7. Turf Maintenance Techniques
    • Introduction
    • Turf Mowers
    • Mowing Guidelines
    • Length of Cut
    • Getting a Clean Cut
    • To Catch or Not to Catch
    • Pattern of Cutting
    • Cutting Steep Slopes
    • After Mowing, and lawn clippings
    • Mower Safety
    • Other Turf Maintenance Techniques
  8. Irrigation - An Overview
    • Water and Plant Growth
    • Managing water retention and loss
    • Understanding movement of Soil Water
    • Types of Soil Water
    • Testing for Soil Water
    • Estimating Water Needs
    • Irrigating Turf
    • Rate, Timing and Period for Watering
    • Cyclic Watering, Pulse Watering
    • Irrigation Equipment
  9. Playing Fields and Bowling Greens
    • Gradients for Sporting Facilities
    • Dimensions for Sports Facilities
    • Construction Procedure for a Playing Field
    • General Specs for Golf Course Preparation
    • Cricket Wicket Construction
    • Maintenance and Repair of Turf Wickets
    • Marking a Wicket
    • Treatment after Play
  10. Managing Established Turf
    • Introduction
    • Golf Course Care and Maintenance
    • Mowing
    • Watering
    • Renovation
    • Fertilizing
    • Weed Control
  11. Establishing Ornamental Turf
    • Introduction
    • Turf in Shade
    • Establishent of Ornamental Turf
    • Planning and environmental auditing

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Identify the range of grasses and other species available for turf culture.
  • Explain the management of soils for growing turf.
  • Identify methods for the establishment of turf.
  • Explain the management of problems in turf including weeds, pests and diseases.
  • Explain maintenance practices used in turf management.
  • Plan the development of different turfs used for sport.
  • Develop plans to establish a turfed area.
  • Develop management strategies for the care of established turf.

Scope of the Turf Management

Turf Management is a great deal more complex than what many people think; and those who work in this industry include very highly skilled, experienced and well paid experts.
To reach the top of this industry, a person needs to develop knowledge and skills in several different areas, including:

  • Horticultural Techniques -growing plants (specifically turf species)
  • Scientific Knowledge -soil science, botany, pathology, etc
  • Management Skills -to manage people, materials, equipment, etc
  • Machinery and Equipment -using, maintaining, repairing etc

As your career develops, you may end up specialising in one area of turf; or you may continue to be involved in many.


Turf Equipment

The turf industry uses a great variety of equipment, both manual and mechanical, for repairing and renovating turf. Some equipment is highly specialised, designed to be used for a particular type of turf, for instance bowling greens, while other equipment may have a much wider application.


This equipment may include:

·         Aerators such as corers, drills, spikes

·         Slicing machines

·         Thatch removal machines

·         Scarifiers

·         Sod cutters

·         Air injectors

·         Spray equipment

·         Spreaders for fertiliser, lime, and so on

·         Tractors

·         Machines to remove water such as sponge rollers

·         Rakes, forks

·         Mowers

·         Ditch witches, trenchers. 



Managing Turf Health

If a turf is healthy, the likelihood of problems is diminished. Health can be impaired by weeds, pests, diseases, and so forth.

A healthy turf will resist disease, recover quickly from attacks by pests, and compete strongly with weeds. Nevertheless, there will still be occasions where a turf will be adversely affected by pest, disease or environmental problems even if it is in seemingly perfect health.

You can keep a turf healthy by:

  • Maintaining optimum fertility. Ideally you should monitor levels of nutrients. The simplest way is to use an EC (Electro Conductivity) meter.
  • Remember to feed when needed, but do not overfeed. Too much can be just as bad as too little. Avoid feeding when the turf is not growing. It is inappropriate to fertilise just prior to a dormant period. Feeding a month or two before a dormant period however, may reduce the period of dormancy.
  • Remove toxins. In order to carry away unused fertiliser, salts, and so on it is imperative that drainage is good and watering is adequate.
  • Do not inadvertently encourage pests. Avoid developing conditions conducive to pest, disease or weed development. In some cases, the conditions which create the aforementioned problems may be the same as the optimal conditions required by the turf. If so, other control methods, such as chemical treatments must be used at appropriate times.
  • Irrigate in optimum fashion. The design of the watering system should ensure full coverage of turf areas without watering the surrounding growth. It is especially important to avoid irrigating or fertilising trees or weeds adjacent to turf, as this may encourage their growth into the turf.
  • Deep water trees to keep their roots away from the turf.


Renovating Damaged Turf

Turf is often badly damaged by an event or series of events. It often has to be brought back into a useable condition again within a very limited time frame. It may require a major renovation effort to do this. At the end of a sporting season a sportsground might be significantly degraded. Ideally there will be a rest period before the ground is used again. During this time an intensive effort can be put into renovation and repair. For instance, during a major golf tournament, areas of a golf course may be damaged by spectator traffic. This may then be fenced off for a period to rejuvenate.

Other examples might include a party in a home garden, a wedding reception, the use of an inflatable paddling pool over summer, all of which may result in a badly damaged lawn that requires an intensive effort to bring it back to ‘normal’ condition. 

Fertilizing Grasses
Although many ornamental grasses have quite low fertiliser requirements, most grass plants will perform better if fertilised (and especially turf grasses which are constantly mown). As plants burst into spring growth, (in particular) they will draw more heavily on nutrients in the soil. If inadequate nutrients are present, plant growth can become stunted. This effect is subtle and not usually noticed until it becomes severe. The nutrient level in the soil may drop as low as 30 percent below the optimum, before deficiency symptoms (such as discolouration) appear in the leaves. By this time, the overall growth rate and general health of the plant has been affected significantly.
There are three major nutrients plants need for healthy growth: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Nitrogen is responsible for green leafy growth; phosphorus is needed for roots, shoots, flowers and seed development; potassium promotes stem growth and helps plants resist disease. 
Plants also need smaller amounts of calcium, magnesium and sulphur, as well as minute quantities of a group of nutrients called trace elements (including iron, zinc, magnesium and boron).
In order to retain their green colour, many turf-grass plant varieties have differing fertiliser requirements, for example: buffalo grass has high nutrient requirements; couch has moderate requirement; kikuyu has low requirements. And depending on the use of the lawn some are fertilised very regularly e.g. golf greens and bowling greens and other sports fields. Others as mentioned earlier such as ornamental grasses would only need a yearly application of a suitable fertiliser.
The rule of thumb with any turf-grass fertiliser program is to apply little and often (throughout the growing season). For the home lawn this is easily achieved and recommended fertiliser times are about every 8 weeks during the growing season. However for public spaces or sporting fields available time to do this time may be restricted consequently the usual program would be applications in spring, summer and autumn and winter. 
The amount and type of fertiliser used varies: in spring and autumn a higher nitrogen fertiliser is usually applied than would be in summer. If rainfall is low, then the summer application may also be omitted. On irrigated sports grounds though fertiliser needs to be applied to retain strong green growth even in summer. In winter a lower nitrogen fertiliser would be applied, but if grass was showing signs of yellowing (and it was not a dormant grass such as couch) then it too will need a higher nitrogen fertiliser (over winter). 
Different fertilisers also supply the plant with those different nutrients in different ways. Some fertilisers have the nutrients as very small, simple chemicals which dissolve in water and are absorbed rapidly into the plant (liquid feed fertilisers and artificial fertilisers tend to be like this). Some fertilisers have nutrients as very large, complex chemicals that need to undergo a range of chemical changes before the nutrient component becomes small enough to be absorbed by the plants. These release nutrients over a long period of time. Many organic fertilisers are like this. Organic mulches or compost can also have this affect i.e. releasing nutrients slowly over a long period.
Other factors can also affect the rate of nutrient uptake into a grass. Without moisture, nutrients are not absorbed. If the soil is excessively acidic or alkaline for the species being grown, nutrient uptake slows or stops. Nutrients are absorbed better if the plant is growing strongly and environmental conditions are ideal for the species being grown.
Your choice of fertiliser and the frequency with which it is applied therefore depends on all of these factors. 

Why Study this Course with ACS?

  • ACS tutors are all dedicated to your learning - your tutor is on a one to one basis
  • We pride ourselves on prompt replies to students' questions
  • We encourage student - tutor interaction
  • Our courses are written by professionals who have worked in the field of horticulture
  • Our courses are constantly under review
  • We are proud of our ability to produce quality graduates.

Join ACS for a quality education!





More from ACS