Backpack Sprayers - internal piston or diaphragm pump?

Posted by Mary Martinez on Jan 30, 2017 4:54:12 PM

If you are reading this blog, you've probably always used a diagraphm pump backpack sprayer and are ready to disagree with everything in this article.  We get it!   You've grown to like the blue stains on the back of your shirt. 

But if you are interested in breaking some myths about backpack sprayers, then read on.  And while diaphragm units are a great option, we've got some compelling reasons to consider an internal piston pump unit instead.


Five Arguments for the Internal Piston Pump

1. Leaks

Well this one is pretty straight forward - the pump is INSIDE the tank and won't leak on your backside.  Diaphragm pumps are prone to leakage and lead to "blue butt".

2.  Agitator

Internal piston pumps have an agitator below the piston chamber so powdered chemicals like Roundup QuikPro are constantly mixed.  Most diaphragm pumps don't have an agitator so chemicals can settle out.

3.  Clogs

This is probably the biggest myth about internal piston pumps - they clog when using powdered chemicals.  The truth is piston pumps can clog if the unit has NO agitator, or if agitator is located ABOVE the piston chamber. A piston unit with an agitator BELOW the chamber will NOT clog when using Roundup QuikPro. 

4. Pressure

Internal piston pumps have more power, so they can spray at higher pressure and reach further distances. 

5.  Costs

At Horizon our internal piston pumps are offered at a lower cost than the diaphrgam pump so you can get a better unit at a better value. 

Bottom Line:

If you’re ready to ditch the blue butt and give the Internal Piston Pump a try, drop by your local Horizon store and check out our complete selection of Jacto & Field King professional backpack sprayers.

Want to learn more?  Click here



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Topics: Maintenance

Tricks and Tips to Applying Post-Emergent Herbicides

Posted by Mary Martinez on Sep 22, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Applying post-emergent herbicides in the fall is an important step in controlling difficult perennial weeds that would otherwise reemerge in the spring. While using a pre-emergent herbicide is very effective in preventing new annual weeds, which is also an important weed control measure for those weeds which reproduce mainly by seed, it will not take care of those weeds with spreading roots. In other words, effective weed control is a two-pronged approach, and there are some reasons to focus on post-emergent applications in the fall.

Timing is Everything

In order to effectively control perennial weeds, it is important to understand their life cycle. While spring applications of post-emergent herbicides have the advantage of taking out weeds before they have a chance to build up a thick, waxy surface that is difficult to penetrate, the down side is that the herbicide is not always carried down to the roots, so the weeds can regrow. In the fall on the other hand, the weeds are carrying their own sugars down to their roots for winter storage, so a post-emergent herbicide application will be carried right down to the root with the sugars – killing the weed for good.

Let it Rest

Avoid mowing the turf for two to three days before and after applying a post-emergent herbicide.  Because the herbicide is absorbed through the blades of the weed, having longer, bigger leaves (more surface area) is essential to success.  If you mow too quickly after application, you risk removing the herbicide before it can reach the roots.  Turn irrigation off, and do your best to minimize disturbances to the turf so that the product can be absorbed in a consistent manner.

Not too Hot, Not too Cold

The ideal temperature for applying post-emergent herbicides is between 60 and 85 degrees - when most weeds are actively growing.  Too cold and the plant goes dormant and cannot move the chemical to its roots.  Too hot and you risk volatization of the herbicide in high heat.

Liquid or Granular?

In general, liquid products tend to be more effective than granular.  The liquid formulation absorbs into the leaf tissue and moves through the plant more quickly than granular.  Plus they are normally rain-fast in 3-6 hours.  But a “weed and feed” granular product is convenient and efficient, eliminating the need for a second application and reducing labor costs.  If you choose a granular product, apply in the morning when turf is damp so the product will stick, and avoid irrigation and disturbances for at least 24 hours after application. 

Remember, post-emergent herbicides can cause considerable damage to the desirable turf and plants on the property, so be sure to read the label before applying. Also, take every precaution to minimize drift or runoff. 

Your local Horizon store has an extensive selection of herbicides in a variety of sizes including pints, quarts, gallons and 2.5 gallons.  To learn more, contact your local Horizon store. 
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Topics: Maintenance

How to Select the Right Lawn Spreader

Posted by Mary Martinez on Sep 19, 2016 11:11:21 AM

Selecting the right spreader for a fertilizer or seed application isn’t that complicated.  But avoiding some common misperceptions can help ensure you get the right machine for the job. 


How big of a hopper do you need?  This is one of the most common misunderstandings when buying a lawn spreader.  50-pound hopper for a 50-pound bag of fertilizer, right?  Wrong!  50-pound spreaders have a high risk of spill since a full bag of product goes right to the top.  They are light-duty units definitely not fit for the landscaper who uses them on a regular basis. 100-pound spreaders on the other hand, are difficult to push when full at a consistent pace necessary to achieve uniform results. A 70-pound spreader is the ideal size when using 50-pound bags.  Not only do you avoid spillage, but you can refill product before it gets all the way to the bottom.


Most commercial lawn spreaders come in either stainless steel or epoxy powder coated plastic.  The biggest concern for landscape professionals regarding spreaders is rust on the frame, caused by failures to wash off abrasive materials and store inside away from the elements.  And while more expensive, the stainless steel spreader will withstand rust better than other material, which means it will last longer and give you a better return on investment.  Durable pneumatic tires are also important; lower quality tires can create a choppy ride and ultimately an uneven application.

Product Waste

Having a quality spreader with multiple attachments will can help you better manage how much product goes out on each application, lowering your cost of goods and improving profitability.  Side-deflectors deliver a targeted, accurate spread and prevent material from landing on sidewalks, driveways and streets.  This eliminates product waste and ultimately saves you money. Another helpful attachment is a hopper cover, which protects material from rain or snow during application and reduces the risk of a spill.

Don’t Forget to Calibrate!

Calibrating your spreader for every application is the only way to ensure you are applying fertilizer and pesticides at the correct rate, also reducing your overall cost of goods.  If you do not calibrate you risk applying too much or too little product, risking serious injury to your turf or disappointing results.  Calibrating your spreader is easy to do and normally takes about 5 minutes.  To learn more on calibrating your fertilizer, watch our “how to” video here. 

Want to learn more about the spreaders available at your local Horizon?  Call your local Horizon store, or click for an overview on the new Prizelawn Spreader selection.

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Topics: Maintenance, Fertilizer

The Emerald Ash Borer Has Arrived in Texas!

Posted by Ryan Moore on Jun 28, 2016 2:53:46 PM

In May 2016, officials from the U.S. Forest Service and the Texas A&M Forest Service confirmed that an unwelcome visitor had finally made its way onto Texas soil when they trapped 4 adult emerald ash borer (EAB) beetles just south of Karnack in northeast Texas.

First identified in Michigan back in 2002, these beautiful but destructive pests with origins in Asia have worked their way across 25 states (Texas makes 26), leaving millions of dollars worth of destruction in their wake.

emerald_ash_borer_1.jpgBecause emerald ash borers are not native to the U.S., our ash trees don't have any natural defense mechanism against this invasive insect; and once an ash is infected, it generally dies within 2 to 3 years if it's not treated early and effectively. What makes the situation even worse is that infestations often aren't identified until it's too late. And because they can easily be transported in firewood and wood products, it's tough to predict how quickly they will spread across Texas.

The good news is that the Texas A&M Forest Service has been actively looking for this pest since 2012 when it started deploying and monitoring traps during the spring and summer months, the peak period for EAB emergence and movement. It should also be noted that there have been no confirmed infestations in Texas yet, but it is certainly time for you to start talking to customers about their treatment options.

There are 7 species of ash trees in Texas (Green, White, Caroline, Texas, Water, Mexican, and Arizona Ash) and although they make up less than 5% of rural Texas forests, ash trees often appear in large numbers within urban communities. Austin, TX alone has millions of ash trees!

Identifying an Emerald Ash Borer Infection

emerald_ash_borer_damage.jpgAsh trees with low population densities of EAB often exhibit little evidence of infestation. It's also difficult to identify EAB damage in the winter because they are still in the larvae stage of their lifecycle, feeding on the phloem of the tree.

As EAB larval population increases, the movement of nutrients becomes more and more disrupted, eventually leading to symptoms such as:
- Dead branches near the top of the tree,
- Leafy shoots sprouting from the trunk,
- Barks splits that expose larval galleries.

If you see significant woodpecker activity, that could be a sign that the ash tree is infested by EAB. As spring and summer arrive and the lifecycle progresses into adulthood, you'll also notice D-shaped exit holes in the tree's bark.

Recommended Treatment for Emerald Ash Borers

One of the benefits of Texas being the 26th state invaded by EAB is that there's a solid 10 years of research on the best methods for controlling this pest. Effective treatments have been identified!

The most effective treatment options have proven to be systemic insecticides, which can be applied to the base of the trunk or sprayed on the bark.

Horizon's recommended treatment for emerald ash borers is Zylam, a liquid form of dinotefuran, which provides exceptional control and can be used as a drench, soil injection, or bark banding application. If you are planning on applying Zylam as a bark banding treatment, we further recommend utilizing SCRIMMAGE (a organosilicone surfactant blend) which increases Zylam's effectiveness as it helps the chemical stick to the tree.

Have questions about the emerald ash borer? Contact your local Horizon branch in Texas. We'll help you get a head start on this pest!


  Free Landscape Maintenance Guide - Click Here

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Topics: Maintenance

How to Revive a Tree Dying from Salt Stress

Posted by Ken Mauser on Nov 6, 2015 2:17:05 PM

We are at the end of another hot, dry summer. Redwoods, pines and other salt sensitive trees have taken another beating.

What we all need is a good wet winter. But if your trees have a significant buildup of salt, all the water in the world will not help. When salt buildup is severe, water remains unavailable to the roots and trees slowly die of thirst.

Redwoods and pine trees are especially sensitive to salts. Salts weaken the trees and can lead to dieback or death. These trees are sensitive to salts in general (which alone can cause a certain amount of damage), but the main culprits that cause most of the damage and death are carbonates and sodium.

Let’s look at how this chain reaction occurs.


The Chain Reaction that Ends in Tree Death

Bicarbonate (HCO3) is a salt that's common in irrigation water. When bicarbonate gets into our soils and dries out, it releases the hydrogen (H), replaces it with calcium (Ca), and becomes calcium carbonate (CaCO3) - an insoluble mineral crystal that is known to plug pore spaces. Pore spaces are critical to tree health because they allow both air and water to reach the root system.

The formation of calcium carbonate is the first step in the declining health of these trees.

The next step is the inability to leach. Because the calcium carbonate has plugged the pore spaces, water can’t move through the soil profile as it needs to. Leaching or flushing becomes harder and harder. With the lack of cleansing through flushing, sodium begins to build up and soon the trees begin to pull that sodium up. Sodium is quite mobile and it moves to the outside edges of the leaves, resulting in sodium tip burn or firing around the edges of the leaves.

As the sodium buildup continues, you'll see stems, twigs, branches and limbs begin to die back. If you ignore the signs and allow the buildup to continue, it could very well lead to the death of the tree.

So, what do we do? What can be done?  


Revitalizing Salt Damaged Trees with a Drench Application 

One of the best ways to revitalize salt damaged trees is with a drench application. Drenching helps with salt issues and releases the sodium from the soil particles, unblocking the soil pores. This allows the water and salts to flush and moves the salt away from the root system.

To create 100 gallons of drenching solution, you'll need:
 - ½ gallon of Blast Sprayable (for the calcium carbonate)
 - ½ gallon of Caltrisal ST (for the sodium)
 - A liquid calcium product of your choice (for sodium exchange)
 - ½ gallon of Sixteen90 (to move the water deeper)

The application rate is 10 gallons of solution per 12” of diameter at breast height (4.5' above the ground). If you don't have a diameter measuring tool, measure the circumference and divide by 3.14. So if you're working with a redwood or pine tree with a 24" diameter, you'll need 20 gallons of solution.

This application should be made within the dripline of the tree branches. And it should be made in November so the treatment is down before the rainy season gets started. That way you can take advantage of every drop of rain possible. 

For more information about the program or the products, please contact your local Horizon Store or Horizon BDR.

About the Author:

Ken Mauser is a Consulting Agronomist who has served as Aquatrols' Territory Manager in the Western United States for more than 20 years.

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Topics: Maintenance

How to Calibrate a Fertilizer Spreader

Posted by Nick diLorenzo on Oct 1, 2015 6:03:00 PM

If maintenance services are a significant source of revenue for your business, one of the quickest ways to improve your profit margins is to consistently use the proper amount of product on each and every job.

In this FAQ, Nick diLorenzo, Horizon's National Sales Manager for Landscape Products, shares a simple 3 step method that will help you quickly calibrate your fertilizer spreader.

Video Summary

In less than 5 minutes, you can know exactly how much fertilizer you need to apply and make sure your fertilizer spreader is set up to apply that right amount of product.

3 Things You Need to Get Started:

  1. Fertilizer Spreader - To properly measure out the test area of 1000 sq ft, you need to know the effective width of your fertilizer spreader. The effective width is how wide the spreader throws the fertilizer.
  2. Scale - To weigh the material.
  3. Calibration Tray, Broom, or Bucket - To measure or capture the material you put out in the test area. Calibration trays capture the fertilizer during the test, which allows you to get an extremely accurate measurement. If you weigh your material before and after your test application, a bucket can also get you a very accurate measurement. A broom allows you to sweep up the material within the test area for weighing, but is usually the least accurate option of the 3.


The 3 Steps of Fertilizer Calibration

Step 1: Calculate how much fertilizer you need.

To properly calibrate your spreader, you need to do the math first and then get out into the field and do the legwork. To calculate how much fertilizer you need to apply, you have to know:
- The application rate,
- The target nutrient,
- The formulation of your fertilizer.

So if you have a contract that states you need to use 1 lb of nitrogen per 1000 sq ft and you're using a fertilizer with an NPK of 24-2-9, divide the 1 lb of N by .24 (the percentage of nitrogen in the bag as a decimal). In this example, you'll need to apply 4.16 lbs of fertilizer to get 1 lb of N per 1000 sq ft.


Step 2: Find out how much fertilizer you're currently using.

Calibrating a Fertilizer SpreaderTo test your spreader's current application rate, measure out an area of 1000 sq ft.

Coverage Area = Length x Effective Width

The easiest way to measure out your test area is to divide your coverage area by the effective width of your spreader. So if you want to cover 1000 sq ft and the spreader has an effective width of 10 ft, you'll need to walk 100 ft.

Weigh your fertilizer before and after your test application to determine how much fertilizer you're currently applying.


Step 3: Adjust the spreader's setting until the application rate is within 1% of the amount calculated in Step 1.

Compare the amount of fertilizer you calculated in Step 1 to the amount of fertilizer your spreader actually used during the test application. Adjust the setting on the spreader up or down accordingly. Once you're happy with the setting (we recommend within 1%), write it in your log book!


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Topics: Maintenance, Fertilizer

Lowering Product & Labor Costs at 140+ Properties (Case Study)

Posted by Ryan Moore on Jul 2, 2015 4:18:00 PM

coast_landscaping_logo_2About Coast Landscaping Inc.

Coast Landscaping Inc. has been a leader in all areas of water and landscape management since 1978 and works closely with both management firms and municipalities. They serve over 140 properties throughout California through their two divisions: Landscape Construction and Interior/Exterior Landscape Maintenance. 

Coast Landscaping Inc. is one of the few companies that has acquired both the State of California small business status (SBE) as well as the City of San Diego emerging Local Business Enterprise (ELBE) status. Their experienced team serves, but is not limited to, general contractors, municipalities, homeowner associations (HOAs), owner associations and commercial units.  

The Problem

Because of their size and span, Coast Landscaping was experiencing problems with consistency in their product applications. With 140+ properties being managed by a team of supervisors, different products were being used on different schedules, leading to inconsistent results.

Some supervisors were using standard N-P-K fertilizer, resulting in more frequent applications and higher labor costs. Others were also splitting their chemical applications from their nutrition, again increasing labor costs and ultimately reducing product effectiveness.

The Solution

Coast Landscaping Inc. worked with Horizon’s local Business Development Representative Neb Keeton to create a plan that would fit their clients' needs and circumstances, while limiting the use of chemicals and the need for additional applications. The new landscape maintenance schedule also needed to be financially responsible, especially when it came to managing some of their large commercial clients.

By moving to the TurfGro™ Extended Feed Fertilizer and the TurfGro™ Weed and Feed with Surge, Coast was able to achieve their goals of lowering chemical usage and labor costs while increasing client satisfaction. In addition, Neb helped them execute the new plan by providing informative materials for employee safety training and MSDS lists.

The Result

Since the conversion, Coast Landscaping Inc. has been able to use smaller application rates with less frequency, reducing overall costs especially cost per application. They have been able to pass those savings on to their clients, resulting in more satisfied and loyal customers.

The TurfGro Extended Feed Fertilizer has produced healthier looking plant material, while the pre-emergent weed control has improved appearances while helping reduce labor costs. Tyler Mason, Coast Landscaping's Operations Coordinator, noted, “By incorporating pre-emergent into the fertilizer and the aid of slow-release fertilizers we have been able to increase the effectiveness of the fertilizer while eliminating excess growth, increasing mowing efficiency, and building a healthier root mass.”

Want to Lower Costs and Achieve More Consistency at the Sites You Manage?
Contact one of Horizon's local Business Development Representatives!
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Topics: Maintenance, Fertilizer

4 Ways to Improve Spray Head Performance

Posted by Bob Franchetto on Mar 3, 2015 5:09:00 PM

rain_bird_1800_series_spray_nozzleA smart water controller is an essential part of an water efficient irrigation system, but its impact is limited when the rest of the system isn't operating efficiently. When you're installing a new system, it's easier to incorporate complementary water saving techologies and create an efficient system. But when you're working with an existing system, the idea is to make simple adjustments that can have an immediate impact on your customer's water bill.

Water conservation is a huge trend in our industry, but it wasn't always that way. There are currently millions of irrigation systems in use across the US that were designed to keep turf and plants green and healthy, but they weren't designed to conserve water. Retrofitting these systems is a huge opportunity and many manufacturers offer smart water components that can be used alongside their older technology.

In this article, we're going to look at 4 different ways to immediately improve the water efficiency of a system that already has a smart water controller and uses Rain Bird 1800 Series sprays for distribution. Rain Bird 1800s have been a leading industry solution for 3 decades and can be found in a variety of residential and commercial settings. If you're having problems with dry spots, run-off, or need to improve water efficiency, there are a number of changes you can make without pulling out the shovel.


#1 Pressure Regulation

second-sprinkler-close-upYou can have the right controller and the right spray body, but if the system pressure is too high for your spray nozzle, you'll end up wasting a lot of water. Usually you'll see this in the form of fogging or misting, which atomizes the water and blows it onto sidewalks and hardscapes, greatly reducing the distribution uniformity of the nozzle. When the distribution uniformity of your sprays drops, you have to run the system longer to avoid dry spots.

The optimal psi for most fixed arc spray nozzles is 30 psi. For rotary nozzles, it's generally 45 psi. Check the manufacturer's specs to find the optimum pressure for the type of nozzle you're using and then check the pressure of the system. When the pressure is too high for your nozzle, you need to pressure regulate.

According to Bernouli's equation, every 5-psi reduction in pressure reduces water usage by 6-8%. This means a 70 psi system reduced to the recommended 30 psi can result in more than 50% in water savings. There are 4 main ways to regulate pressure in a system utilizing Rain Bird components:

  1. Get a pressure regulator for the entire system.
  2. Build a pressure regulator into the control valve.
  3. Install a Rain Bird PRS-Dial at the valve.
  4. Retrofit the existing Rain Bird 1800 spray bodies with P30 (for fixed arc nozzles) or P45 (for rotary nozzles) Pressure Regulating Spray Heads.


#2 Stop Low Head Drainage

low_head_drainageIf you're working on a property that has sloped surfaces and you see water seeping out some of the heads, you likely have low head drainage. With low head drainage, every bit of water from the valve to the low head will be wasted every time the water is shut off, which is even more problematic if you're cycle and soaking.

There's two quick fixes for stopping low head drainage in Rain Bird 1800s:

  1. Put an under-the-head check valve in the spray body.
  2. Retrofit the spray with a head that has a built-in Seal-A-Matic (SAM) check valve. You'll want to use 1800 SAM heads when the system is already operating at optimum pressure and 1800 SAM-PRS when you need both a check valve and pressure regulation.


#3 Use High Efficiency Nozzles

Getting higher distribution uniformity (DU) is very important if you want to reduce run times and the amount of water you're using. You want the entire area to receive the amount of water it needs to maintain green lawns and colorful plants. No more, no less. The more uniform the water distribution, the shorter the run time will be for the driest spot.

If you're having trouble with wind conditions, run-off, dry spots, or just want to save your customer water, you can retrofit 1800 sprays with a high efficiency nozzle like Rain Bird's HE-VAN and R-VAN Nozzles.

HE-VANs are Rain Bird's high efficiency variable arc nozzles. Because they adjust from 0˚ to 360˚, you can simplify the inventory you carry in your truck and HE-VAN's lower trajectory and larger droplets resist wind so the water lands exactly where you want it. He-Vans have a DU of over 70%, which allows you to save water and deliver healthier turf, while shortening run times by up to 35% compared to traditional VANs.


R-VANs are Rain Bird's high efficiency rotary nozzles. Reaching a distance of 13-24', R-VANs are a great retrofit for poorly designed sprinkler systems where spray heads were spaced too far apart or the pipes are too small. Compared to spray arc nozzles, they can achieve a greater radius while using less water. Retrofitting standard spray nozzles with R-VANs can reduce flow by up to 60% and improve water efficiency by up to 30%. Nozzle spray pattern and distance can easily adjusted by hand. No tools required.


4. Plan for Overlap

Are you seeing brown spots around your spray heads? That's an indication that you're not getting good head-to-head coverage.

While it's important to know the manufacturer's catalog numbers, you shouldn't rely on them 100%. The important thing to remember is that those numbers were created in a laboratory under perfect conditions. Things change when you get out in the field.

Give yourself some overlap. The IA recommends a foot overlap, but that might still be a little close. If you're working with a system with 12' spacing, use 15' nozzles and then adjust the distance down.


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Topics: Maintenance, Water Conservation

What to Say When Your Customer Wants to Remove Their Turf

Posted by Christina Burton on Feb 10, 2015 2:46:00 PM

man_removing_turfWith drought becoming a common topic in the news, water restrictions becoming more commonplace, and cash for grass programs paying property owners to pull up their lawns, it's important to be prepared when customers ask you to remove their turf.

If your company specializes in maintenance services, make no mistake that turf removal is a huge threat to your company's longevity. While the short-term money from turf removal jobs will pay your bills now, what will happen to your business a few years from now when there are fewer lawns to mow and fertilize? How will you stay in business when the customers that needed you on-site once a week only have you come out once a month or once a quarter?

As an EPA WaterSense Distribution Partner, Horizon Distributors is devoted to keeping you at the forefront of the water conservation movement. We recognize that water is a scarce resource and there is no doubt that water and fertility requirements will drive significant change in the way you're able to maintain your customers' landscapes in years to come. But these changes can be viewed as either an obstacle or an opportunity.

Within the next 5 years, it's estimated that basic chemical manufacturers will spend nearly $3 billion acquiring companies that focus on smart water and soil health solutions. New technologies are making it possible to maintain landscapes with less water and fewer fertilizer inputs – The big question is whether you are prepared to adapt to these changing industry conditions.

Horizon has developed a number of resources to help you take advantage of smart water and smart soil technologies. In this article, we're going to focus on how to talk to your customer about their concerns and the environmental benefits of having turf.


What Does Your Customer Really Want?

The first step in properly addressing your customer's concern is to find the real reason why they want the turf pulled. It's one thing if they aren't enjoying or actively using their lawn and want to do something else with their yard. But more often than not, when a customer asks you about turf removal, they are doing so because of environmental concerns.

Maybe they saw a story on the news or had a chat with a misinformed neighbor and now they are concerned that their lawn is "bad for the environment." When you take the time to dig a bit deeper, you'll probably find that they really just want to do their part in reducing water consumption, but they may also be concerned about other environmental issues like fertilizer runoff.

Whatever their true concern is, you can either fight it or work with it. For example, if your customer genuinely wants to reduce their environmental impact and avoid runoff and you've been using synthetic fertilizer on the property for years, it's a good time to switch them over to a program that actively builds healthy soil. The true cost of a program that takes advantage of slow release fertilizer is usually less expensive when you consider the cost of labor, gas, and additional maintenance.

And while it is your responsibility to help your customers comply with local water restrictions, it's important to note that turf removal alone won't make a dent in water consumption when you look at usage from a broader perspective. According to the USDA, agriculture accounts for approximately 80% of our nation's consumptive water use and over 90% in many western states. To compare, landscape irrigation is only about half (roughly 3.5%) of Domestic & Commercial use, which accounts for about 7% of consumptive water use.

ws_infographics_outdoorNaturally, it's our responsibility as water managers to do our part in conserving water. The EPA reports that as much as 50% of landscape water use goes to waste due to evaporation, wind, and overwatering. Waste associated with irrigation systems can in most cases be attributed to poor design, inadequate maintenance, or improper use. With proper education and successfully integrating water saving technologies, we can help the customer keep their lawn and save a significant amount of water.


6 Environmental Benefits of Turf

There is a growing perception that turf is bad for the environment, but in reality the benefits of turf far outweigh the negatives. As green industry professionals, it's our responsibility to share the benefits of turf with our customers and to build programs that deliver those benefits.

#1 Turf Helps Reduce the Greenhouse Effect

Like all plants, turfgrasses capture atmospheric carbon dioxide and use it to create energy via photosynthesis. According to the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science at The Ohio State University, an average sized healthy lawn can capture as much as 300 lbs of carbon per year and a golf course fairway can capture 1,500 lbs of carbon per year.

Critics of turf often point out that emissions from mowers and other maintenance equipment minimize this benefit, but it has been shown that properly managed turf areas can capture anywhere from 4 to 7 times the carbon emitted from equipment.

#2 Turf Creates Oxygen

Even elementary school children know that plants release oxygen during photosynthesis, but the question is how much?  A 50' x 50' turf area can be expected to produce enough oxygen to meet the annual needs of a family of 4 and an acre of grass can produce enough oxygen for 64 people.

#3 Turf Combats the "Heat Island" Effect

Because of the materials used in the construction of roads and buildings, urban areas usually have notably higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas, which is known as the "heat island" effect. The EPA notes that "heat islands can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, heat-related illness and mortality, and water quality."

Turf can help minimize the heat island because it is much cooler than other common surfaces. A study from BYU found turf temperatures to be 20 degrees cooler than bare soils and 40 degrees cooler than synthetic turf.


#4 Turf Traps Dust

Hundreds of millions of tons of dust circles the earth annually and dust particles have been associated with premature mortality and negative health effects. It's estimated that lawns in the U.S. alone are able to trap an estimated 12 million tons, which keeps our air cleaner and fresher.

#5 Turf Minimizes Soil Erosion

Turf can play an important role in soil erosion, a pressing environmental problem that costs between $6 and $16 billion a year. Nearly 6 billion tons of soil is washed or blown away each year. Because of its dense root system, turf is an ideal and cost-effective way to absorb water and stabilize soil.

#6 Turf Protects the Local Water Supply

Critics of turf are often justifiably concerned about pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers entering the local water supply, but leaching can be minimized through effective management practices that build healthy turf and soil.

In fact, healthy turf can actually protect the local water supply because it's able to purify water as it moves through the root zone, which is a reason why turf is often installed next to roads and parking lots. Soil microbes in the root zone can help break down chemicals coming off hardscapes into harmless materials.


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Topics: Maintenance, Water Conservation, Drought Solutions

Building a Better Soil Structure with Turface

Posted by Bob Franchetto on Nov 25, 2014 2:16:00 PM

Are you aerating your turf then filling the holes with sand? Then you're missing an opportunity to greatly improve the water holding capacity of your soil.

In part 18 of our Drought Solutions video series, you'll see why many green industry professionals are moving from sand to Turface, a calcined clay product that allows you to hold more water in the root zone.

Video Transcript

So how do we get from a collapse of soil plates that are all stacked and stuck on each other and we can't get any water and nutrients into it? How do we get from here to a soil now that has microbes in it, that has some enzymes, has some beneficials, has some organics in there?

What's our one way, especially in turf, that we can incorporate into that profile without digging out all that turf, tilling the soil, putting all of our stuff in and putting turf down? How would we go about doing that?

Hopefully we do it at least once a year. Aerate. You're absolutely right. So we're going to aerate. After we aerate, what do we do for the existing holes that are left there?

Traditionally everybody filled them with sand. Sand's cheap. Put sand in those holes. You see putting greens? They sand em. Fairways. They sand em. Sports turf, now landscape turf is not sanding anymore.

How Turface Works


They're putting in a product called Turface. That's a calcined clay product and we're going to talk about it because the reason we use it is because it holds moisture.

Sand has no nutrient value. This has no nutrient value. Sand has zero water holding capacity. How much water does the beach hold? None. The beach won't hold water. Sand has no water holding capacity.

This is a calcined clay. They bake it. That's what makes it into a ceramic. It's a real durable product that doesn't break down. This is the beauty of it. 74% of it is porous. It'll absorb 90% of its weight in water and release it slowly back to the soil profile.

That's why I like this product a lot. Cause now it's gonna take all that nutrient, it's gonna take all that water, and it's gonna hold it in the root zone. Now we got massive amounts of roots, we've got water held in the root zone, our soil is working for us. Our drought tolerance on that turf really grows.

So where they want to take out turf on your properties, you say wait a minute. Let's start working the soil, let's start working your irrigation system, let's save you water by having better, healthier soil. So not only is it going to hold water, but it's gonna help get that water into the soil profile. So everything we talked about, about getting water to the turf surface, getting water to the turf surface.

Now we're doing it at the right rates. Now we can get it to where it needs to go. It needs to be able to get into the soil. Now your water moisture distribution is better and it will improve your drainage because now your soil has the ability to let some water go.

It looks sort of like this. You've got your soil particle, you've got air, you've got water in there. Your Turface is totally part of that soil profile now. You almost build that ideal crummy soil because the product is getting in there and it's holding the nutrients. It's holding all of the airspace. It's increasing the porosity of that soil. All things that we need to have.

An Example of Turface at Work


Here's an example. Here's bermudagrass on native soil, no amendment. All planted the same time. All cared for the same time. Here it is on 50% sand on native soil. Here's your root structure. Here it is with 20% Turface added to that soil. Holding the nutrients in the soil profile. Look at how much deeper you can water. How much deeper it's pulling those roots down in.


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Topics: Maintenance, Water Conservation, Drought Solutions