Best Depth To Place Turf Soil Thermometers/Soil Moisture/GDD

Asked November 10, 2014, 11:38 AM EST

Hi. Can you please advise what is the best depth to place soil thermometers for growing and managing tall fescue and Kentucky Blue Grass? Also, would you recommend 4 inches as the best depth for a soil moisture meter for growing turf? Finally, would recommend 50°F as the base temperature for growing degree days for these grasses? Thank you in advance for any information you can provide. Marty

Carroll County Maryland lawns and turf grass tall fescue kentucky blue grass soil thermometers

1 Response

I am not sure if your questions are in regard to managing new turf seed germination, maintenance of existing turf, pests(weeds or insects) or heat stress.

Rooting depth of these grass species are typically between 2 - 6 inches in MD. I tell most people to take readings at about 3" for temperature and moisture (the important thing is that the readings be done consistently (at the same depth) . The biggest problem that many people get into when depending on moisture metering in the landscape is soil profiles, esp. in suburban/urban landscapes. These soils are frequently altered for construction and have a wide range of consistency(physical particles), compaction, exposure and depth. All these factors will effect the water holding capacity of the soil.

Penn State has an excellent fact sheet on Cool Season Turfgrasses that can be found here:
plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/turf/extension/factsheets/cool-season

Probably best if you contacted me directly with specific questions on this topic:

I am not real sure how to respond to the growing degree days questions since most of the recommendations we typically use for turf seeding is done using current soil temperature.
Also see:
http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/turf/extension/factsheets/irrigationhttp://

hortman@umd.edu
410 386 -2776

Thanks, Steve