D05.1 Softscape & Turf Areas
D05.1.1 Turf General
Turf maintenance includes all mowing, edging, trimming, and cleaning up of lawn areas. Whenever possible, turf maintenance operations in each district are to be completed the same day they are started. High traffic and high profile areas such as facility entrances, front doors, main entry gate, and amenity areas will be completely mowed, edged, trimmed, and cleaned up. Mowing is not performed during inclement weather and will be rescheduled as soon as weather and site conditions permit. Inclement weather includes periods of excess rainfall as well as periods of drought, which make the turf susceptible to damage during normal mowing operations.
Weekly Mowed Areas
Prior to each mowing, all trash, sticks, and other unwanted debris must be removed from lawns and all other areas to be mowed. Manicured lawn areas are to be maintained at a height according to the Air Force Common Output Level Standards (AF COLS). It is not recommended to mow during extremely dry or wet conditions. During the mowing season, all lawn areas will be mowed weekly as weather conditions dictate and as outlined in the Maintenance Schedule. When possible, use mulching mowers on all maintained lawns. Keep mower blades sufficiently sharp so they do not “tear” the grass. Vary the mowing pattern where feasible to prevent rutting and minimize compaction. Avoid using power equipment that is too large or heavy for the task at hand, because it causes soil compaction onsite.
Caution must be used to avoid any flying debris. Safety glasses, ear protection, hard hats, gloves, and steel-toe boots must be worn during this operation by all workers. The mowing operation includes trimming around all obstacles, removing excess grass clippings, and removing debris from walks, curbs, and parking areas.
DO NOT allow string trimmers to come in contact with the bark of the tree. Take special care to prevent damage to plant material as a result of the mowing operations. Any damage caused by the mowing team’s equipment will result in the replacement of damaged material at the landscape contractor’s cost.
UF/IFAS-Recommended Mowing Heights Suggested mowing heights and mower types for Florida lawns are shown in Exhibit D-3. Frequency of cut varies based on species and time of year.
|Grass Type||Mowing Height (in.)||Mower Type|
|St. Augustine grass||2.5–4.0||Rotary|
|Zoysia grass (Coarse types)||2.0–2.5||Rotary|
Suggested Mower Types Based on Areas to be Mowed
Yearly Mowed Areas
The Maintained Zone includes areas of native grasses that require minimal maintenance during the year. The landscape contractor is responsible for mowing these areas once a year in mid to late winter before the grass starts to reactivate. Walk the area prior to mowing to locate any larger objects that could damage to the mowing equipment or bystanders from flying objects. Mow the grasses to a height of 4 to 6 inches. Use safety equipment, shields, and protective clothing and gear to prevent injury from flying debris or other hidden elements in the vegetation not visible to the operator or others nearby.
Edge all sidewalks, curbs, and other paved areas once every other mowing. The edging will be between 1 to 1½ inch deep and ¾ inch wide from the sidewalk, curb, or edge of hard surface. After mowing and edging an area, fine-tune by weed-eating any undesirable, unappealing leftover grass, groundcover and weeds in hard-to-get-to areas such as sidewalk and curb cracks, around poles and bollards, and close to buildings and signs. Blow off the entire area to it is clear of debris (such as sidewalks, streets, patio, and steps). Blow toward landscape beds and not into streets or drainage structures.
Mowing and Edging Clean Up
Leave all lawns, walks, trails, plazas, parking lots, and other highly visible use areas in a clean and neat-looking condition from mowing and edging activities. Do not blow debris toward or around pedestrians and vehicles. Blow debris on paved areas in one central location, then rake and/or vacuum and remove the debris from the area. Follow this same blowing and removal process when removing leaves from the grounds. Do not place debris in trash dumpsters. Transport debris to either the city dump or the current compost site on base. Remove debris from the edging operations and sweep or blow the areas clean. Use caution to avoid any flying debris. Safety equipment for protection must be worn during this operation.
Follow current UF/IFAS guidelines for turfgrass fertilization. Organic fertilizer is preferred but not required. Ensure that the fertilization schedule does not exceed the fertilizer rate prescribed on the label and complies with state and local ordinances. It is important to note that local fertilizer regulations may prohibit the use of nitrogen fertilizers during the summer months. Be aware of local ordinances to avoid fines or citations (https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/fertilizer).
Apply the minimal amount of fertilizer needed. Submit a schedule of materials to be used under this program as well as application rates to Grounds Maintenance. A yearly program will include a minimum of 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. The fall fertilization will include a minimum of 30% slow-release nitrogen and a high potassium blend to promote root development. Do not add phosphorus unless soil samples indicate insufficient phosphorus levels are present. Fertilizer used will contain the following:
- Nitrogen and potassium in equal parts or in a 2:1 ratio
- Very little phosphorus
- Slow-release nitrogen
Include a complete minor and trace element package with each application to ensure that all the requirements of grasses are met. If soil samples indicate a high pH, all fertilizers used will be Sulphur-coated products. Notify Grounds Maintenance of any turfgrass nutrient deficiency symptoms and recommend measures for correction. Treat deficiencies of specific nutrients by applying the lacking nutrient in accordance with UF/IFAS recommendations until the deficiencies are corrected. The fertilizer application rate and number of applications depends on the type of lawn. If the soil in a lawn is compacted, aerate the soil before applying fertilizer.
Use only fertilizers for urban turf that are formulated and have application instructions in accordance with requirements and directions provided by Florida Administrative Code Rule 5E-1.003, Labeling Requirements for Urban Turf Fertilizers. Apply fertilizer only when plants are actively growing and according to the Maintenance Schedule.
A soil analysis must be obtained before planting, seeding, or sodding for the area to be impacted. Analyze the soil samples for pH, lime requirement, and available plant nutrients (P, K, Ca, and Mg). A soil pH test will indicate whether pH adjustment is necessary. For more information on soil sampling and testing, go to (http://soilslab.ifas.ufl.edu/ESTL%20Home.asp).
Use deflector shields on all application equipment to minimize inadvertent applications of fertilizer to non-plant areas. Blow, sweep, or wash back into the landscape any fertilizer deposited on paved or impervious surfaces immediately to prevent staining of pavement. Use and enforce the “Ring of Responsibility” around or along the shoreline of canals, lakes, ponds, wetlands, or coastal waterways to reduce risk of fertilizers and other lawn chemicals directly coming into contact with surface waters. This includes complying with all state and local ordinances related to fertilizing close to water bodies and staying a minimum 100 feet away from the edge of the water.
Store nitrate-based fertilizers separately from solvents, fuels, and pesticides, because nitrate fertilizers are oxidants and can accelerate a fire. Grounds Maintenance will work with landscape contractors to secure fertilizers and other chemicals stored at the worksite.
After fertilizing (unless water restrictions are in place or a rain event is predicted), irrigate the area with at least 1/4 inch of water to avoid the loss of nitrogen and increase uptake efficiency. If water restrictions apply, then irrigate the area as permitted, but do not to exceed 1/2 inch of water following fertilization.