With spring fast approaching we are starting to have to mow some of our micro-climate locations. The campus is a very compact area with many diverse locations, such as having either direct south facing sunlight ob one side and the north side receives little to no direct sunlight. This poses a challenge from a plant perspective considering certain areas will start to act as though it is summer time while others are still in winter dormancy.
As you can see in this picture, we have just put our first cut on the turf areas south of Ketchum. As with any early spring mowing there are many items in the turf such as partially decomposed leaf material, sticks, mulch etc. So the first few mowings always tend to look a little trashy.
During our recent temperature tests we have been starting to see many south facing locations getting close to or over the 50 degree threshold and yet the north areas, or heavily shaded locations, are still in the low 40s. The importance of the 50 degree threshold in lansdscape terms means that the plants will start to fully wake up from dormancy and begin active growth. In addition the soild microbial life starts to become active again which is very important to the overall health of the plant.
These south facing locations can be good and bad. During the early spring they are nice because you start to get a taste of spring and summer. a little color starts to come back to the landscape and things start to feel like summer. The downside is when the heat is truly on during July and August the same locations become a major challenge to maintain. Irrigation checks are done regularly at these locations-even missing one irrigation cycle in some of these areas can cause the turf to go dormant and brown out. At those same times the north side locations and shady areas are loving life and are looking great.
This is just a small part of the nature of the business and the crucial importance to daily monitoring of the landscape to try and prevent problems.
Mother Nature controls what happens, all we are trying to do is minimize the changes through proper cultural practices.