IrriGator - Landscape and Turfgrass Management - Univ....

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Landscape and Turfgrass Management - Univ. Florida - Fort Lauderdale Page 1 Landscape and Turf Management University of Florida at Fort Lauderdale February 17, 1999   Sprinkler Irrigation in the Landscape Irrigation   is   one   of   three   powerful   landscape   management   tools.   (The   others   are  fertilization and cutting, e.g., pruning or mowing.) Landscape   irrigation   provides   year   round   plant   growth   in   warm   climates,   assists  establishment, and effects a shift in the climax vegetation on a site to more long-lived  and woody species. Xeric sites that would be naturally dominated by annuals and  herbaceous plants, e.g., grasses can be made through irrigation to support a denser,  more luxuriant canopy, which many clients favor. Plants have inherited cycles of leafing, flowering, and seed dispersal, compatible with  annual cycles of rainfall in their natural habitat. Irrigation, the artificial watering of the  soil, drastically changes where and how plants grow. The   most   widespread   landscape   plant   in   North   America,   Kentucky   bluegrass   ( Poa  pratensis ), is a Eurasian plant which naturalized in urban lawns due to irrigation. For all  practical purposes it wouldn't be here without irrigation. When people talk about having  a "lawn as green as the Joneses" they are quoting an expression that originated in the  Kentucky bluegrass belt, and this arose from sprinkler irrigation. Ecologically, irrigation interacts with other major landscape management tools. Close  cutting of turfgrass, which weakens the plant and prevents adequate root development,  leads to minimal available soil moisture reserve. Therefore, close-cut turf wilts and dries  out more readily, and more frequent irrigation is required. In using irrigation to maintain  close-mown, luxuriant stands of turfgrass throughout the growing season, turfgrass areas  demand more frequent irrigation than wooded areas. This is the opposite of the natural  occurrence of grasslands in drier areas, and woodlands in wetter areas. In a negative sense, the practices of mowing, watering, and fertilization act in a vicious  cycle to weaken and change natural ecosystems. Plants such as the slash pine ( Pinus  elliottii )  that are  adapted  to a wet-dry  cycle  often show  decline and  death under  irrigation. In a positive sense, irrigation coordinates with other tools, so people can  accomplish the kind of landscape that they like. Performed with precision and good  judgement, irrigation can be quite efficient in providing a healthy landscape, with  reduced impacts on natural resources and ecosystems.
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IrriGator - Landscape and Turfgrass Management - Univ....

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