Biology of Plant & Grass Growth

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We want to help you to be as well-informed as possible about how the grass, plants, shrubs, and trees in your yard grow without needing to read too much info. After all, you don’t want to suffer from information overload, but it can’t hurt to know the basics to reinforce your knowledge and understanding of growing things. That way, you’ll be able to provide better lawn maintenance all year-round. In addition, you’ll have the ability to know when you need to call a lawn care professional about a problem, like control, disease, or under-fertilization. So, here’s a little plant and lawn biology information.

Plant/Lawn Biology & Growth

A well-established and well-maintained yard can provide many years of enjoyment for you, your family, and your guests. All it takes is some basic lawn care knowledge for keeping it looking beautiful. And, when it comes to your lawn, although there are numerous different grass types, when it comes to seed germination, their early stages are similar. The advantages of planting your own lawn include the fact that you can provide some of the primary ingredients for making it much easier for the seeds to germinate, like proper timing, moisture, and even soil conditions, right from the start when your seeds are planted.

Nature, however, is not always so caring and considerate. In fact, the seeds of many trees and plants can’t germinate quite so easily until the environmental conditions and seed preparation are perfectly aligned. Because of that, many seeds end up not being able to germinate for ten, twelve, or even more years.

Basically, the majority of all seed is extremely dry when it starts out. Seed development will undergo several processes before being ready to germinate and its called imbibition. It starts with an embryo sac inside of which a fertilized egg will divide. The seed will continue growing as the embryo develops, and then at the point where it is fully developed, the growth stops, the seed is mature, and it falls on the ground.

In the case of grass, the crown is the most important part of the structure of a plant. As the plant’s life center, it is where the origination of grass growth occurs. The shoots or roots can be damaged, and the grass will still survive, however, if the crown is killed, the plant will die. This is an important fact because, when you understand basic plant structure and how grass grows, then you can be better at evaluating any serious problems that might arise, like a disease, for example. Disease can affect your lawn, and the blades of grass can be severely damaged, however, if the crown isn’t harmed, then the grass usually survives. It’s essential, however, that your grass is never mowed too low, so there is enough grass and crown left for photosynthesis to occur.

Photosynthesis Basics

This complex process converts carbon dioxide (CO2) and sunlight into food for plants and the byproduct is oxygen (O). Each and every plant has cells that have rigid cell walls containing chloroplasts, which contain chlorophyll. This is the substance that gives plants their green color.

During the process of photosynthesis, the chloroplasts are constantly absorbing energy from sunlight. That energy is utilized for splitting the water molecules into separate oxygen (O) and hydrogen (H) molecules. The oxygen is then released to the atmosphere as a photosynthesis byproduct. The combination of CO2 and H makes glucose, and that will feed the plant. Most of this is actively occurring in the sunlight, but a portion of this reaction happens without sunlight by using stored energy for completing the cycle. This is commonly known as the Calvin Cycle. So, it’s all pretty basic:

~ CO2 + sunlight= O

~ Chloroplasts = chlorophyll = green color

~ CO2 + H = glucose = plant food.

That’s pretty simple, right? And, shedding a little light on these fundamental processes can make your approach to caring for your lawn and plants much simpler. Now, you’ll probably see them a little bit differently because you understand them better. Photosynthesis in plants and trees in your yard is simply the trapping of the sun’s energy to turn it into sugar via their leaves where it is stored and utilized for growth. It is an amazing chemical process that creates a molecule of sugar from six CO2 molecules from the air and six water molecules from the roots. So, in a nutshell, 6 CO2 molecules from air + 6 water molecules from plant/ tree roots = 1 molecule of sugar.

One other extremely valuable byproduct of photosynthesis is that the leftover oxygen is released into the atmosphere, becoming air for us to breathe. At the same time, glucose is transported to the tree or plant’s parts for nourishment.

There are indeed several essential processes that occur in tree leaves, but none of them is more valuable than photosynthesis. So, thanks to all of the green plants and trees in the world, the sun’s radiant energy is harnessed in the structures of leaves and then made available for all of the many living things worldwide. Other than a few types of bacteria, photosynthesis is the single process in our entire world by which energy can be stored via the constructing of organic compounds from inorganic substances.

Approximately 80 percent of the total photosynthesis in our world is produced in our oceans and is mostly unavailable to creatures that live on land. Therefore, there is constant pressure on plants for their photosynthesis. Fortunately, those plants’ total sugar production is an estimated 40 billion tons annually, which is sufficient for supporting every single terrestrial organism living on earth at the present time.

Nutrient & Water Absorption

In the initial stages of a plant’s water absorption process, seeds operate anaerobically up to the point when the seed coat ruptures. Anaerobically means that it does not require oxygen. Then, the seed becomes aerobic, meaning it needs a steady oxygen supply. This is commonly known as transpiration and, at this point, the soil needs to be kept damp but not allowed to become waterlogged. What happens when it’s waterlogged is a severe decrease in how much oxygen is available to the seeds. And, prolonged saturation of the soil can kill the seeds.

In addition, for oxygen exchange to occur, seeds must be planted in good soil. For example, soil that is heavy in clay content could be good at holding water but is also easily compacted, reducing the levels of oxygen. Sandy soil generally offers optimum oxygen levels, however, it doesn’t do very well at holding water. Loamy soil is actually the best for planting seeds.

Here’s a little-known grass fact. Blades of grass only live approximately 40 days on average. When you look at your lawn, and it’s been there for a couple of years, that’s not really its true age. It might be just a few days old. It has to continually produce new blades of grass that are known as tillers for keeping up with the continual process of some blades dying as new ones are produced. So, in reality, what you want is for your lawn’s tiller production to exceed its die-back rate by the continuous production of more and more tillers, thus resulting in thicker and more beautiful turf.

Plants also need nutrients, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. These nutrients are absorbed by trees and other plants from the air. Other nutrients like nitrogen are absorbed from the soil. Just like people and animals, plants have vascular tissues (xylem). They transport nutrients and water from the tree/plant’s roots to the leaves and vascular tissues, and they are responsible for transporting hormones, amino acids, and sugar molecules both up and down throughout the entire plant.

Fertilization

A lush green lawn must be properly planned, created, and fertilized. An essential part of having a beautiful lawn is a well-planned fertilization program. So, here is some basic information for developing one. The fact is that most programs are based on a Nitrogen (N) element. Why? Well, it’s based on the fact that more than any other nutrients, nitrogen is the one that grasses consume in the highest amounts. In addition, each type of grass contains a max amount of N that it can safely handle during each growing season. So, a proper fertilization program has two parts:

1) Know how much N is required by your grass annually and then divide that amount over the growing seasons.

2) Know the correct application amounts per season. Too much N during the incorrect time of year could harm your grass while also encouraging certain insect problems and diseases. On the other hand, too little N could result in the hindering of photosynthesis, thereby robbing the plant of much-needed carbs, regardless of the type of grass that you have.

So, needless to say, if you want lush green grass in your yard, knowing your fertilizers is a must and incorporating proper planning and timing are equally as important. But, if you have neither the time nor the inclination to do all of this, there’s a straightforward solution, and that is to hire a professional lawn care service to handle all of your fertilization, weed control, and other lawn maintenance issues.

Another important consideration is the way the grass grows. Blades of grass have short life spans, so it needs to grow new tillers constantly. When your grass gets older and stops producing tillers, it becomes thin and weak, and then it dies. The growth of your lawn can also be adversely affected by:

1) Excess shade

2) Heavy traffic

3) Shortage of nutrients

4) Soil compaction

Keeping your grass healthy and young requires:

a) Aeration

b) Dethatching

c) Fertilization

d) Proper mowing

e) Irrigation

f) Sufficient sunlight

These are the key ingredients in a lawn that is forever young. And, remember, when you have “young turf,” you have nice thick, healthy turf.

So, if you’re planning on starting your new lawn from seed, here are the necessary steps:

  1. Prepare your seedbed by ensuring your soil is raked clean or tilled.
  2. Cover with fresh soil or organic material.
  3. Apply a starter fertilizer.
  4. Sow your chosen seeds using a spreader or lay sod.
  5. Water thoroughly.

From that point on, your new lawn will need three very important things and they are, of course, light, warmth, and moisture. Like all other plants, your lawn requires moisture to grow. And, without the optimum temperature range, it won’t grow either. That’s the main reason why you definitely don’t want to plant your new lawn during the winter months. So, taking into consideration the fact that there are two different kinds of residential grass, cool-season grass, and warm-season grass, you’ll want to know the temperature requirements for both. Cool requires a soil temp that is a minimum of 45 to 55 degrees while warm requires 55 to 65-degree soil temps. One other important factor to always remember is that your lawn and many of the plants and trees in your yard love of sunshine, so be sure to plan your lawn and other plantings where they will receive plenty of it. And, if you’re not sure where your new grass will get the max benefit from the sun or whether you need warm or cool-season grass, just give us a call, and we’ll be happy help you figure it out. And, if the planting of trees and other landscape plants is becoming perplexing and too time-consuming for your busy life, we can help you with those, also.