October Tennis Diary 2004

Laurence Gale MScin Tennis

October Tennis Diary

By Laurence Gale MSc


Most Tennis clubs should have completed their end of season renovations by now, having taken the advantage of the warmer weather in September. However for most clubs end of season renovations seem to get later each year. If you are still renovating try and complete the work as quickly as possible making good use of the warm air and soil temperatures to aid seed germination. The use of germination sheets are becoming increasingly popular and may be the only way of assuring seed germination at this time of the year.

Most of the tasks detailed can be undertaken within a limited budget. Local conditions and circumstances will need to be taken into account. If any members are undertaking any specific work not detailed, please let us know by adding a comment in the section below the diary.

October Maintenance Tasks for Tennis

Natural Grass Tennis Courts






Inspect drainage outfalls, channels and ditches. Ensure that they are working.




Keep an eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. During October there is the likelihood of heavy dews forming on grass surfaces which often promotes outbreaks of disease.

A number of diseases are usually very active at this time of the year, namely red thread, fairy rings and fusarium.

Regular brushing or switching off the dew in the mornings will reduce the chance of fungal attack.

End of season renovations.

When conditions allow.

These works will involve a number of operations that are carried out on the grass courts.

If conditions have been dry it may be necessary to thoroughly irrigate the courts ensuring that water has penetrated to a depth below 100mm.

Having a moist soil profile will aid aeration and scarification works.

The following activities are generally implemented during autumn renovation and usually carried out in the following order:-

  1. Mowing the sward, preparing surfaces for renovation.

  2. Scarification, removal of unwanted debris (collect arisings and dispose off site).

  3. Aeration, decompaction of the soil profile improving the air and gas exchange in soil.

  4. Repairing worn and damaged areas (baselines)

  5. Overseeding, restores grass populations. Use approved seed mixtures for tennis.

  6. Top dressing, restores levels and improves surface drainage. Use approved compatible materials.

  7. Fertilising, provides nutrients for grass growth.

  8. Brushing to incorporate dressings and to help the grass stand back up.

  9. Watering / Irrigation.

Further information on renovation techniques and equipment can be seen on the following link. Autumn Renovation.

1. Mowing

End of season renovation

Mow the courts to prepare for renovation, cutting at a height between 6-8mm this will help to clean off any debris prior to renovations. The mower is also utilised for cleaning up the courts after scarification. (use an old/spare machine).

2. Scarification

End of season renovation

Scarifying should be carried out using a wire rake or rotary type powered scarifiers to clean out accumulated thatch and organic matter from the courts. This is generally achieved with several passes (2-4) over the courts in different directions. Depth settings range between 2-8mm depending on how severe you want to scarify the surface. Check the knifes and blades on the scarifiers, they can become worn and will not perform as well.

An ideal depth to achieve the desired results of removing thatch and organic matter is usually about 6mm. Modern scarifiers have collection boxes to collect the arisings. If not, the use of brushes and hoovers can be used to clear debris/arisings.

3. Aeration

End of season renovation

The most important task of tennis court renovations, is relieving compaction. Opening up the soil to allow air movement within the soil profile is essential for promoting root growth.

There are a wide range of turf aerators on the market, however, choice will be dependant on what you want to achieve. Hollow tines are generally used in the main for rectifying problems. In most situations the use of solid and slit tines are the most commonly used. However, the use of slit tines can cause problems when surfaces dry out. Slits tend to open up when the court becomes dry. especially when covers are used to control moisture on the courts.

It's important to ensure the tines penetrate below 100mm in depth, allowing a good depth of gaseous exchange. Check the tines for wear and ensure they are shiny and clean, rusty tines can cause the turf to lift. Use machine on rough ground to 'shine' tines prior to use on court.

4.Repair worn and damaged areas End of season renovation The decision to seed or turf worn baselines will be determined by a number of factors, extent of damage, how late renovation is planned, cost and availability of matching turf. which ever method is used it is important that the finished levels are the same as the rest of the court.


End of season renovation

Overseeding is important to re-populate the courts with new grass seed varieties usually fescue and ryegrasses. See link for details of grass seed varieties available in the Pitchcare shop. It is important that the seed makes contact with the soil, using a seeder that slots the seed into the surface is a better option than broadcasting the seed on the surface. General sowing rates are 35g/m2 .

6.Top Dressing

End of season renovation

Be sure to use compatible top dressing materials. Soil tests will identify what soil type you have and its particle size makeup. Clay loams come in many different compositions having varying clay contents. Be sure to use a clay loam that is suitable for the standard and level of play expected at your facility. Typical rates of application for top-dressing is between 1.5 - 3 kg/m², depending upon the levels and intensity of aeration undertaken on the courts.

It is essential to use appropriate top dressing spreaders for applying the top dressing materials, ensuring you are putting the material out evenly. The weather must also be suitable, i.e. dry ground conditions and minimal wind.

See links for topdressing material loam suppliers. Loams

7. Fertilising

End of season renovation

Fertiliser treatment and turf tonics can be continued in accordance with your annual programme. If you haven't got a fertiliser programme, have your soil tested; try an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results. A list of autumn fertiliser products can be assessed at the following link: Autumn fertilisers

8. Brushing and dragmatting End of season renovations It is important to brush and drag mat your top dressing materials into the playing surface to help restore levels and integrate the material into the existing soil profile via the aeration holes.


As required

It is essential to have water available for irrigation purposes. Irrigation may be required for court repairs and seed establishment. Scarifying and aerating on dry surfaces reduces the effectiveness of autumn renovations. The courts don't want to be soaking wet, just moist. Water will be required to maintain turf quality and aide seed germination after renovation.

Inspect tennis structures

As required

Label and store away all tennis furniture (posts, nets, seating and notice/score boards).



Inspect and remove debris from playing surface litter or any wind blown tree debris, litter, twigs and leaves.

Machinery, repairs & maintenance


Inspect and clean machinery after use; service and repair damaged machinery.



Maintain material stocks and order any other consumables required.



As required

The mowing height on the courts should be raised and maintained at a winter height of between 12-18mm.

Mowing frequency will be dependant on a number of factors, grass growth, sward type, level or standard of facility, resources (staff & machinery). But generally it may only need mowing on a weekly/fortnightly basis to keep tidy during the winter months.

Pest control

As required

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 square need to be assessed.

Soil tests

Ideally once or twice a year, or as required.

Soil sampling is an important part of Groundsmanship. The results will enable the manager to have a better understanding of the current status of his soil and turf. There are many tests that can be undertaken, but usually the main tests to consider are:

  • Particle Size Distribution (PSD) this will give you accurate information on the soil type and it's particle make up, enabling you to match up with appropriate top dressing materials and ensuring you are able to maintain a consistent hydraulic conductivity (drainage rate) of your soil profile.

  • Soil pH, it is important to keep the soil at a pH of 5.5-6.5, a suitable level for most grass plants.

  • Organic matter content, it is important to keep a balanced level of organic matter content in the soil profile.

  • Nutrient Levels. Keeping a balance of N P K nutrients within the soil profile is essential for healthy plant growth.

Once you have this information you will be in a better position to plan your season's feeding and maintenance programmes.

Artificial Tennis Courts

Artificial grass systems


Keep surface clean with regular sweeping and brushing. Remove any algae and moss from surface. Sand filled systems require regular brushing to maintain manufacturer's recommendations on sand levels and pile heights.

American Fast Dry courts

Before/after games


Clay courtsapril-diary-tennisEuroclayc.jpg


Keep surface clean, regular sweeping and brushing to restore playing levels using SISIS Trulute or similar equipment. Top dress any hollows or damaged areas. Repaint lines.



Keep surfaces clean, regular sweeping and brushing. Repair any hollows or damaged areas. Repaint lines.

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