Thursday’s morning arborist-centric learning seminar at New England GROWS, the three-day green industry conference & expo held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, dealt with the trees vs. turf. Specifically, can the two elements get along in a landscape?
Bert Cregg, Ph.D., associate professor of horticulture & forestry at Michigan State University, was the seminar’s speaker and moderator. Highlighted points of Cregg’s seminar included:
- Trees and turf are often viewed as mixing about as well as oil and water. However, with careful planning, it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation.
- Identifying the cultural requirements of each is critical to effective landscape management.
- Trees impact turf and vice versa, in many different ways and some turfgrasses are more likely to be impacted by different kinds of trees.
- “Poor attempts to manage trees and turf together almost always end badly,” Cregg said.
- Shade is the biggest impact trees have on turf. The more shade a tree provides, the less likely turf can succeed in that spot.
- When deciding which trees to plant in a landscape where turf is present, select trees with thin crowns. For example, the Honey Locust tree.
- Deep root feeding is crucial to managing tree impact on turf.
- Light quality matters: Tree canopies intercept red wavelengths. Low red contributes to thin turf blades and poor root systems.
- To improve your tree and turf relationship, minimize conflict points. Give each their own space and plan ahead in your design. Allow mulched-free turf zones around trees and design beds or borders specifically for trees.
- Consider alternatives: Use deciduous trees instead of conifers. Use trees or ground covers in areas poorly suited to grass.
Check back for more arborist-centric coverage and photos of New England GROWS.