Healthy roots are the foundation of beautiful turf. Whatever variety of grass you are dealing with, if you don’t pay attention to the roots then you can’t expect the plant to flourish. It is especially important when you are looking to install transplanted, natural turf into a new space, as well as considering the correct de-thatching methods for regular upkeep and health.
All turf has both roots and stems. The roots ‘anchor’ the grass, and turf roots do this with a ‘branching’ system, spreading thin, shallow roots through the soil. Roots allow a plant to take in water and nutrients. Roots spring from stems as the plant grows. These are called ‘secondary roots’. The ‘primary roots’ are those that grow from the plant during the initial embryonic or seedling stage at the beginning of its life.
Above-ground stems are known as ‘stolons’, or ‘above-ground runners’, and all grass plants have some form of these. For certain varieties, such as Queensland Blue Couch and Buffalo grasses, above-ground runners are the only stems the plants have. Other varieties, such as Couch grass, have both above-ground runners and underground runners, which are also called ‘rhizomes’. Plants that have both above and underground runners tend to be hardier, better at withstanding intensive use and require less frequent watering, so are often chosen for sporting fields.
Stolons are horizontal stems, meaning they run along the surface of the soil and create new plant shoots from the ‘nodes’ that sprout along them. They are integral to how a plant spreads, and are the most visible way you can tell whether a plant is establishing itself. These above-ground stems will grow into the bare areas of soil.
Rhizomes are often mistaken for roots. This is because they are grass stems, usually white, that grow under the soil. They emerge above ground in nodes and new shoots as the plant spreads. Rhizomes can also allow ‘daughter plants’ to grow from the original plant in some varieties of grass.
The kind of root and stem system you are dealing with in your new turf will determine how you need to keep it watered and nourished - the vital factors in promoting new root growth and plant crowns and getting your lawn firmly established as easily as possible. It’s important to understand the wide range of grasses out there before choosing what is best for you - that’s where we can help.