Turfgrass Management Terms S

Saline soils - soils in which there is a heavy accumulation of salts

Sand-based fields – field that has a rootzone/ growing medium that consists of sand as the primary growth material

Sand-modified fields – native soil field that is modified with sand. This is intended to improve the rootzone, which increases the water and nutrient retention and increases field stability

Scabrous - roughened with stout projections

Scald - turf damage occurring under conditions of excessive water, high temperatures and intense light

Scalping - cutting into or below the crown of the grass plant while mowing. Continued scalping will weaken or kill the turf

Scarifier - referred to as a dethatcher, is a tool that is used to remove thatch from lawns. Scarifiers come in many forms, from manual models to tow-line scarifiers that can be pulled behind a tractor. Proper timing is crucial or a scarifier can harm your lawn instead of help 

Seed, seeding - establishing a lawn from seed – is a common and relatively inexpensive way to grow grass. Seed can be used to establish a new lawn, renovate an existing one or fill in bare spots 

Seed bed - area of soil prepared for seeding

Seedhead - the flowering portion of a grass plant

Seedhead stem (Culm) - the jointed stem of a grass

Seedling – young, newly sprouted plant grown from seed rather than from a cutting or other plant part 

Selective – pest control designed to target a specific, select type of plant, insect or animal, controlling a narrow spectrum of pests. For example, a selective herbicide is a plant control that targets only broadleaf weeds or only grasses, leaving the other plant type uninjured

Selective herbicide - herbicide that can be applied to a mixed stand of turfgrass and weeds that will selectively kill certain weeds without injuring the turfgrasses

Senescence - gradual deterioration associated with aging and eventually death. Some forms of senescence are stress-induced seasonal events, such as leaf senescence, which results in brilliant fall colors in some trees. Some senescence-like processes are imposed on plants, as when weed-killers inhibit a plant’s ability to divide and grow

Sheath - part of a leaf that envelopes the stem

Site work – earthwork that is necessary before field construction can take place, i.e. the removal of buildings, trees, rocks, soil; installing utilities, improving or installing drainage

Skid-steer mower - heavy-duty, boxy, outdoor machine with lift arms that support a variety of labor-saving attachments. A skid-steer mower attachment allows a skid steer to be used for heavy-duty lawn and brush cutting

Slicing - form of cultivation involving a deep, vertical-cutting action that is used to open the soil as well as the turf

Slit seeder, slice seeder - advanced seeding tool. There are many types, but what they all have in common are blades that slice into the soil, plus a hopper that dispenses seeds into the open slits

Smut - disease caused by a fungus

Sod - grass plus the interwoven mass of soil and other organic matter held together by the grass roots and used for vegetative planting. Sod farms generally sell sod by the pallet, square foot, square yard or roll as plugs, blocks, squares, or strips of growing turf that are ready to plant on prepared soil. A typical pallet covers 450 square feet, using rolls that measure 2 feet by 5 feet and is a considerably more expensive turf option than planting grass seed

Sodding - installation of sod

Sod-forming - grass with stolons or rhizomes

Softscape - soft and living portions of a property, including lawns and garden plants. This differentiates them from the hardscape, which is such nonliving items as stone and cement

Soil pH – measurement of the concentration of hydrogen ions in soil on a scale of 0.0 to 14.0, where 7.0 is neutral and lower numbers reflect higher concentrations. Soil pH affects how available nutrients present in the soil, including those nutrients added by fertilizers, are for plants to absorb. Soil testing confirms soil pH, and soil amendments can alter it

Soil modification - alteration of soil characteristics by adding soil amendments such as sand, peat, lime, etc.; commonly used to improve physical and chemical conditions

Soil probe - tool used to remove a deep core from turf areas to examine root development, thatch depth, topsoil depth, soil arrangement and soil moisture

Soil profile – vertical section of soil showing natural or incorporated layers of different colors, textures or materials

Soil sterilant - chemical that renders soil free of living organisms

Soil structure - physical arrangement of the solid soil particles (sand, clay and silt) and the pore spaces between them. The ideal soil structure for growing grass provides sufficient porosity to allow for healthy root growth and air, water and nutrient movement. Heavy foot traffic that compacts soil damages its structure. Incorporating organic matter and aerating can improve soil structure

Soil test - basic analysis of soil samples for chemical and/or physical properties that reveal the soil pH and nutrient levels such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium for the areas sampled. Most soil testing laboratories do not test for nitrogen because it moves through soil quickly, but test recommendations include how much annual nitrogen to apply to your lawn and, if needed, how much lime to apply to raise pH to levels needed for healthy grass growth. Your local county extension agent can provide information and, in many cases, testing kits. Soil tests should be performed before planting new lawns and gardens, and periodically once they are established  

Soil texture - coarseness or fineness of the soil. Sand is coarse-textured; clay is fine-textured

Species - established classification into which similar individuals in the plant or animal kingdom are placed. A species is described as a morphologically distinctive and genetically isolated natural population

Spikelet - flowering portion of a grass plant. Spikelets of most grass species contain male and female structures. Grass flowers are wind-pollinated

Spiking – vertically puncturing the soil to promote turf density and lightly aerify the thatch layer on natural grass, or loosening the crumb rubber on synthetic surfaces

Spots - areas of diseased turf with each area of affected turf is less than 4” in diameter

Sprigs, sprigging - 3 to 6 inch sections of the horizontal stems (below-ground rhizomes or above-ground stolons) of creeping grasses. Sprigging is the act of planting the sprigs to start a lawn or to patch bare spots. In sprigging, cut the creeping stems into sections so that two or three nodes are present on each, and then plant them in shallow furrows so the nodes and roots are covered with soil, but the foliage remains uncovered 

Spike - unbranched inflorescence in which the spikelets are sessile on a rachis 

Spikelet - unit of inflorescence in grasses consisting of 2 glumes and 1 or more florets

Spiking - act of perforating turf and soil crust by the use of solid tines, spikes or blades for the purpose of aerating the soil

Spray drift - movement of small spray particles away from the target area

Sprigging - planting of stolons (runners), rhizomes or vegetative segments of plants

Standard mowing blade - “2 in 1” or “high rise” blade, the standard lawn mower blade is intended to allow the operator to decide whether to collect the grass clippings in a bagging system or let them fall to the ground. A standard blade does not mulch clippings 

St. Augustine grass - salt-tolerant warm-season grass tolerates some shade and grows in the subtropical zone of the United States — the states that border the Gulf of Mexico. It has broad, coarse leaves and spreads aggressively with long stolons (above-ground runners). St. Augustine grass is one of the few species of grass almost exclusively established from sod, plugs or sprigs. While it will send out seed stalks if left unmown, the seeds are rarely viable 

Sterile - without female reproductive structures 

Sterilize - treat soil chemically or by heat to kill disease organisms, weed seeds and insects

Stimpmeter - implement used to measure the speed of putting greens

Stolon - sometimes called creeping stems or runners, are specialized, horizontal stems by which some grass varieties spread along the soil surface. Nodes on the creeping runners can form new crowns, roots, and shoots to create new grass plants

Stoloniferous - bearing stolons

Striate - marked with slender, longitudinal grooves or lines, appearing striped

Strigose - with stiff, straight, appressed hairs

String trimmer - one of many of the generic names for a device used to trim and edge lawns via a flexible, fast-spinning string. Other names include “weed-whip,” “strimmer,” “weed whacker” and “weed wacker” 

Striping - pattern left on turfgrass - usually a fairway or a green - using lightweight mowing equipment. Its main purpose is a pleasing appearance. Patterns are the result of light reflected from blades of grass lying in different directions because they have been mowed in different directions

Subgrade – soil base upon which a field is constructed and into which drainage lines are added

Subsoil - part of the soil profile below plow depth. Usually considered unsatisfactory for plant growth

Sun exposure - amount of sun a plant receives or requires each day. Plant tags and catalog descriptions usually include recommendations of the amount of sun exposure needed for optimal plant health

Surfactant - agent that reduces surface tension of liquids on plant materials or in the soil. Wetting agents are common examples

Susceptible - lacking inherent ability to resist. Turf may be susceptible to diseases, insect damage or weed encroachment

Sward - once-popular word meaning a patch of land covered by grass. To form a sward is to become covered by grass. The word is from the Old English word sweard, which originally meant “skin” 

Synergistic - action of one chemical upon another causing an accelerated action or a result that neither one alone could produce

Synthetic – term used to describe substances that do not occur naturally. Synthetic products don't rely on natural processes in the way organic products do, so they can offer more control and work more quickly when applied to plants and soil

Synthetic turf – textile product designed to simulate the appearance and playability of natural grass utilizing a synthetic fiber grass blade constructed into fabric form

Syringing - lightly watering a lawn so that the blades of grass are moistened without the water getting down to the soil. This technique is usually done during the hot part of the day to prevent wilting and reduce stress on established grass. Syringing is not sufficient to keep newly seeded lawns adequately moist 

Systemic – pest control that is absorbed by one part of the plant, but then moves throughout the plant's system, so that all plant parts contain the pest-fighting ingredients


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