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The impacts of different management practices on botanical composition, quality, colour and growth of urban lawns

Knot, Pavel, Hrabe, Frantisek, Hejduk, Stanislav, Skladanka, Jiri, Kvasnovsky, Michal, Hodulikova, Lucia, Caslavova, Iva, Horky, Pavel
Urban forestry & urban greening 2017 v.26 pp. 178-183
Anthoxanthum odoratum, Cynosurus cristatus, Festuca ovina, Festuca rubra, Lolium perenne, Lotus corniculatus, Poa pratensis, Trifolium repens, autumn, botanical composition, color, cost effectiveness, fertilizer rates, field experimentation, grasses, lawns and turf, legumes, mowing, mulching, nitrogen, nitrogen fertilizers, sward
Mulching has increasingly become a standard method used in maintaining low-input lawns. This can be attributed to cost-savings, as these maintenance systems do not require loading and hauling of grass clippings. It is also possible to reduce the amount of nitrogen (N) fertilization and thus save on fertilizer costs. The effects of mowing management and rate of nitrogen fertilization on quality and growth of urban lawns were studied in a field trial during 2007–2012 on lawns newly sown in autumn 2006 and consisting of a grass–legume mixture (Lolium perenne 25%, Poa pratensis 25%, Festuca rubra 30%, Festuca ovina 5%, Anthoxanthum odoratum 5%, Cynosurus cristatus 5%, Trifolium repens 3%, Lotus corniculatus 2%). Nitrogen was used at three application levels: 0, 50 and 100kg of N ha⁻¹year⁻¹. Swards were cut to a height of 40mm five times annually and mulched to the same height. Mulching significantly affected the botanical composition of lawns, wherein a decrease in the portion of legumes (from 32% to 19.1%) was observed. The returned grass matter supported a significant increase in the grass component in the lawns (from 57.8% to 69.7% of total). When the clippings were returned, quality remained the same. Returned clippings had a positive impact on colour and increased the height of cut swards significantly. Application of nitrogen decreased the share of legumes, supported the grass component, statistically increased quality, improved colour, and increased sward height. The results show that returning grass clippings through mulching is beneficial. In any case, it is necessary to apply at least a basal amount of mineral fertilizer in order to preserve the quality of urban lawns over the long term.