Management of tall fescue involves three regions: aerial shoots, thatch, and roots. Thatch is a layer of living and dead organic matter, largely undecomposed, that often accumulates on the soil surface as turfgrasses grow (Frank et al., 2001). A cultural practice directed at one region often has impacts on another. For example, mowing height affects rooting, as shorter mowing heights reduce root system depths (Baikan and Petrovic, 1990). If an excessive amount of green leaf tissue is removed when turf is mowed, tiller, rhizome, and root initiation by the scalped plants stops immediately. The growth of existing roots also stops temporarily within 24 h of severe defoliation (Crider, 1955, cited by Beard, 1973). Nitrogen fertilization most often stimulates aerial shoot growth at a greater rate than root or rhizome growth (Nelson and Coutts, 1979) and can alter the composition of thatch (Frank et al., 2001). Turfgrass leaves and tillers can be damaged as thatch is removed from turf by hollow-tine coring and vertical mowing (Agnew et al., 1987). An application of lime to supply Ca to turf and elevate soil pH may increase the rate of thatch decomposition by soil microorganisms (Henderlong, 1975).


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