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Development of a Management Plan

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Determine the intended use and expected quality of the turf when making strategic and cultural management decisions.

Determine customer or client expectations to inform management objectives.

  • In general, the higher the level of quality desired, and the more intense the use of the turf, the higher the level of management needed to maintain a quality surface.
  • Set realistic expectations based on communication between the turf practitioner and customers, clients, end-users, and other stakeholders.

Considerations with regard to expectations include, but may not be limited to:

  • use and appearance of turf
  • mowing height of turf
  • acceptable level of pest infestation
  • acceptable level of abiotic stress
  • use of water and other resources
  • use of synthetic, organic-based or organic management materials
  • budget and other financial resources
  • other site-specific details
Figure 1. Representative examples of turf maintenance levels.
High maintenance Moderate maintenance Minimal maintenance
High maintenance Moderate maintenance Minimal maintenance


Determine and document action levels for various pests.

How much pest activity can be tolerated before action is necessary?

  • This question will help to determine the response threshold or action level.
  • The action level is the point at which a pest population reaches a level capable of causing unacceptable damage to the turf.
  • The higher the level of turf quality desired, the lower the action level and the more likely it is that a turf manager will need to make a pesticide application to manage a problem pest.

Establish action levels for each key pest according to turf management objectives.

  • Action levels for various pests will vary from site to site and may even vary from area to area on a given site.
  • Due to the many factors that play a role in determining action levels, setting across the board levels is often not useful.
  • Action levels may change during the growing season, in response to changes in management inputs, or in response to other pest or abiotic problems.
  • Action levels may be affected by the number of monitoring events or visits. In many cases, the less often monitoring is done, the more likely it is that the action level will be lower.
  • Ancillary information such as plant phenology and bio-indicators (stage and date of plant development) as well as growing degree days can also be considered.

The following factors will influence action levels and should be considered carefully:

  • client or customer expectations
  • management objectives
  • resource availability
  • turfgrass species and cultivars present
  • turf use
  • vigor and condition of turf
  • time of year
  • weather and environmental conditions 


Develop and implement a site specific management plan.

Set strategies for each upcoming year with an annual management plan.

  • Formulate a yearly management plan based on site assessment information, client expectations and pest action levels as determined for the site.

The following information at a minimum should be included:

  • management objectives and practices
  • regulations that impact the particular site, and compliance factors for those regulations
  • identification of agronomic problems, with a plan for addressing causes:
    • irrigation
    • drainage
    • excess wear and traffic
    • landscaping (trees and shrubs)  
    • soil problems
  • cultural practices:
    • construction, renovation, repair if needed
    • seeding/overseeding  
    • irrigation
    • fertility management  
    • mowing
    • aeration and topdressing
    • other practices specific to the site
  • scouting timetable and procedures
    • identification of key pests in key locations at key times
    • training and assignment of scouting personnel
  • pest management strategies
    • determination of pest action levels  
    • scouting/monitoring plan
    • cultural management
    • biological management
    • pesticide management

Monitor or scout for pests, potential pest problems and environmental stresses.

Monitoring refers to the regular, non-specific observation of a managed site, such as a quick visual scan conducted while mowing, for example.

Scouting involves more focused observation with a specific goal in mind, as in determining the population of a problem pest or the cause of an area of thinning turf.

  • Managed sites should be checked on a routine basis for pest presence, pest population density, and pest damage.
  • Other potential problems (i.e. heat stress, excessive thatch accumulation, etc.) should also be noted and recorded.
  • Consult the appropriate pest sections of this manual for information useful in tracking disease, insect, and weed pests as well as problems caused by abiotic factors.
  • Refer to the Turf Pest Damage Monitoring Chart in UMass Extension's Professional Guide for IPM in Turf for approximations of when damage is most likely to occur.

Keep a written record of monitoring and scouting findings with an intended course of action.

  • List or map locations where particular or key pests or problems first occurred during critical periods.
  • List or map locations where particular environmental or other abiotic stresses first occurred during critical periods.
  • Record action needed, as well as action taken.

Record management activities.

  • Keep a detailed record of yearly growing conditions and management activities.

Suggested record items:

  • temperature
  • precipitation
  • humidity
  • pest problems
  • pest hot spots
  • pesticide applications and results
  • timing, frequency and effectiveness of cultural practices
  • fertilizer and other materials applications
  • soil and tissue test results
  • soil pH
  • uncommon occurrences such as flood, prolonged ice cover, etc.
  •  Note management activities that differ from those outlined in the yearly management plan.
  •  Determine if measures taken to manage a pest or alleviate a problem were truly effective in protecting and maintaining the quality and viability of the turf. These evaluations should be maintained as a key aspect of the written record.
  •  Keep pesticide application records as required by law.
  •  If applicable, customer program, invoicing and associated records should be kept on file.
  •  Staff should be trained in Right to Know and other pertinent laws, and documentation should be retained in personnel files.
  •  Training records for staff using or handling materials and doing field work should be retained.

Encourage and maintain communication between supervisors, crew and other staff.

  • Effective communication will promote success of management decisions and results.
  • Train staff and crew in proper procedures.

Share the yearly management plan.

  • Share management plans with appropriate staff, clients, and/or end-users. Discuss as needed.
  • Clients, and/or end-users who utilize turf subject to pesticide applications should receive notification and documentation as required by law.
  • If requested by clients and/or end-users, provide advance notice of site visits and applications.
  • Provide an information sheet, post-treatment instructions and documentation to clients and/or end-users as appropriate.

Evaluate the management plan as implemented.

  • All aspects of the management plan including pest management strategies should be evaluated each year and a written summary kept.
  • Management strategies that need to be adjusted or implemented during the coming year can be identified during the annual evaluation.