April Maintenance

General Maintenance

You should be looking to aerate the greens and get some topdressing materials back into the surface to restore levels and maintain surface porosity.

Aeration can vary between solid and hollow tine spiking depending on your goals, with the aim of getting some air back into the soil profile. Vert-draining using solid tines to around 8 inches should help the roots chase moisture down the soil profile, providing the sward with a stronger root system.

You don’t want to smother your sward, so don’t over-do the topdressing. The type of sand used in topdressings is important and you be aware that most san in the UK are for other uses.

For golf, winter pitches and bowling greens, the dominant particle range in the sand should be medium sand (0.250mm to 0.5mm).

In the spring you should look to spread between half to one and half tonnes of material per green, and many are now topdressing on a monthly basis.

Obtaining nutrient levels for greens, tees and fairways will provide essential information that can be used when choosing fertiliser.

Damaged blades will affect sward quality so it’s important that your mowing machines are serviced regularly and are set up correctly.

Irrigation systems should have been tested and calibrated by now, sprinklers should be done once a year to ensure the spray pattern and coverage is sufficient for your needs. You can accomplish this with a number of catch cans on your green and measure water collected.

Once these spring renovations are completed, you can then get on with the daily routines of maintenance.

Frequencies for mowing will vary between daily and weekly depending on growth of the grass and standards for the course.

Local conditions such as type of course, expectations, sward type and mower type can all alter mowing heights. Below are a guide, and will be subject to weather conditions, but never remove more than 1/3 of total grass in each cut.

Greens - height should be maintained at around 4-6mm. 

Tees - height should be maintained at around 10-15mm. 

Fairways - height should be maintained at around 15-20mm. 

Rough, semi rough grass areas - mow and tidy up these areas.

Mowers need to be cleaned, ensure you apply some wd40 on the cutting cylinder after washing it down. Keeping them clean makes the job of checking cutting heights and maintaining the bottom blades easier.

At least three times per week you should look at changing holes, however this can be dependent on green size, construction, tournaments, amount of play and conditions of the green. During wet weather the hole can wear more quickly, caused by placement of golfers feet.

Agronomy

Prior to the end of season renovations now is a good time to take soil samples and have them sent off for analysis. You should have a Particle Size Distribution (PSD) soil analysis done if you haven’t already, which will tell you the make up of your soil profile.

The PSD will identify the ratio of clay, slit and sand that your soil is made up from, giving you a better understanding of what you’re dealing with. With this information, you will be able to identify the needs of your soil.

There is an optimum level of plant nutrient and a soil analysis will help discover what levels of nutrients are available.  

Fertiliser treatment and turf tonic can be used if the grass shows signs of stress such as weak growth or discolour. Most will be applying a spring/summer NPK fertiliser, then towards end of April/May applying a slow release fertiliser to see you through until June/July. Factors such as soil type and weather can be important in how well it works.

To encourage microbiale activity in their soil a number of green-keepers are now using compost tea formulations. These are brewed on site and applied on a monthly basis along side a number of other bio stimulants.

You don’t want to be over lapping or over dosing, so take care when applying fertilisers. Calibrate your spreaders and sprayers before use and choose the correct nozzles/aperture settings for the product being used.

Weeds, Pests & Diseases

Moss will be a problem after the wet conditions courses have suffered over the last six months. Lawn sand and other cultural practices are used for controlling moss.

Preventing is better curing; Ensuring a minimisation of bare areas throughout the growing season, whilst keeping in control of thatch is essential.

Ground coverage is essential, as moss is an advantageous species, the important thing is to try and ensure a competitive growth habit by the individual grass plants.

What else can be done to reduce the risk of moss invasion/establishment?

• Sports complexes around the country utilise an automatic irrigation system. In periods of stress, it would be advisable to water thoroughly, but to requirement. Over-watering can lead to other unwanted problems.

• Find a balance in mowing height. Particularly in golf and bowls, mowing height plays a significant part in how the ball reacts with the surface. Ensuring you can find a balanced mowing height to allow good coverage without affecting playing quality is important in all sports in terms of moss reduction.

• Reduce thatch. The utilisation of controlled frequency verti-cutting and deep scarification during periods of good recovery will reduce the organic content within the thatch layer. Reducing this moisture holding ability within the O horizon of the soil is very important in moss control.

• As with anything in a sports surface, ensuring the best aeration will help provide a competitive grass sward. As mosses prefer compacted, moist soils, reducing the compaction and increasing drainage ability is a great tool in reducing the efficacy of moss invasion.

• In areas that are prone to moss, look around the area and whether anything can be done to reduce the shade/increase direct light levels (e.g. removal of tree limbs etc). As mentioned previously, moss is highly competitive in shade over grass.

• Overseeding in the autumn is recommended due to a more reliable amount of moisture. Ensuring good establishment could be key in increasing coverage as you head into winter, particularly in known bare areas.

• A balanced fertiliser programme.

It’s important to strike a balance between the needs of your customers/visitors and effective control of moss.

Worm treatments can be carried out if needed, but please remember to ask yourself why worms are present. pH level, organic matter and your cultural practices on the turf surfaces need to be assessed.

Moles and rabbit damage, repairs as required.

Keep an eye on fungal disease attack and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas.

Machinery

Make sure machinery is well maintained as the weather continues to improve oyu will be all out keeping your course in tip top condition.

All machinery should have been serviced and back in action by now.

Having a good wash down facility is an essential tool for keeping equipment clean; it is a wise investment. 

 
 
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