September Tennis Diary 2011

Laurence Gale MScin Tennis

Natural grass tennis courts will be coming to the end of their playing season, with the groundstaff organising and preparing for renovation works, which often starts mid September, with the aim of completing all works before the end of the month.

It is important that you carefully evaluate the needs of your courts; the work required will be determined by the condition of the courts with regard to wear (bare areas), weed infestation, levels of thatch content, nutrient status and overall surface levels.

A soil analysis will help determine a number of facts to help you decide on the appropriate treatments and choice of materials required for your end of season renovations.

By taking a soil sample you can also identify the amount of thatch present. This will help you decide on the level of scarification required. One of the biggest faults during renovations is the fact that many clubs do not remove enough thatch from their swards. This is often due to either not enough passes with the scarifier at the correct depths, or using a machine that is not robust enough or engineered to cope with the work required.

For most clubs the extent and thoroughness of renovations is often dictated by money and resources available. Too often I hear the same excuse, we have not got enough money to do the job properly or hire in contractors. Well for me, it's about time clubs, whether they are bowls, cricket , football or rugby, faced the fact there is a cost incurred for materials and hire of specialist services, and they are not becoming cheaper. However, when you actually divide the cost into the amount of games played on the facility, you will actually find the costs are very cheap.

Do not skimp on the quality of seed and fertilisers. At the end of the da,y you get what you pay for. Just remember it takes many years of research and development to bring many of our common materials to market.

It is important to ensure that all materials (seed, fertilisers, topdressings) and any hired machinery have arrived, and are secured and stored safely on site ready for use. Often, when ordering materials late, you may be faced with delays on delivery or not being able to get the products you want in time for your planned works.

See Pitchcare Shop for a range of materials and products.

Early in the Month 1st - 15th September

Continue with weekly / twice weekly mowing regimes to maintain sward height.

Maintain turf vigour / colour with an application of an autumn fertiliser.

Once the playing season is over, take down nets and post and store away, replace broken / damaged tennis nets/posts.

Later in the Month 16th September - onwards

Get organised for your end of season renovations, ensure you have ordered your materials to arrive on time. Check equipment, ensuring it is ready for the work entailed. Check all belts and drives on the scarifiers.

If you are intending to use a contractor to do your work, confirm start dates and be clear they understand what level of work you want.

Servicing of equipment, arrange to have your mowers serviced during the winter months.

Key Tasks for September
tennis court

Mow the sward, preparing surfaces for renovation. Lower cutting height to about 3-4mm to clean and prepare courts.

Scarification - depending on the severity of the thatch, you may need to scarify several times in different directions. However, in most cases, if regular verticutting/grooming has taken place during the growing season, you would probably only be required to scarify in two directions. Do not scarify at right angles to the previous scarification line. Depth of scarification between 4-15mm depending on depth of thatch to remove.

The rotary mower can then be used to clean up the courts after scarifying has been completed.

Aerate to relieve compaction and encourage root development. Aeration is the decompaction of soil, improving air and gas exchange in the soil profile. Depending on the turf's condition, you can choose to carry out hollow or solid tine spiking. Hollow tines are generally used on a bi-annual basis or when you have a severe thatch problem. Depth of aeration will be determined by the depth of your soil profile and what problems you want to rectify. Hollow tining is best achieved to a depth of between 75-100mm. Solid or slit tines can be set to penetrate deeper, ideally between 100-200mm.

Topdressing restores levels and improves surface drainage. Ensure you use compatible topdressing materials, sands, sand/soil mixes. Spreading can be achieved by several methods, utilising pedestrian or ride on disc or drop action top spreaders, or by hand using a shovel and a barrow. Best carried out in dry weather. It is important that the topdressings are spread uniformly.

Overseeding restores grass populations. It is important to ensure a good groove or hole is made to receive the seed, good seed to soil contact is essential for germination. Good moisture and soil temperatures will see the seed germinate between 7-14 days.

Fertilising provides nutrients for grass growth. Apply a low N nitrogen fertiliser product, something like an NPK 5:5:15, to help the sward through the autumn period.

Brush to incorporate dressings and to help the grass stand back up. Brush in with a lute or drag brush/mat to restore levels.

It is essential to keep the sward watered after renovations to ensure your seed germinates.

Useful Information for Renovations

Articles Products
The King of Queen's
Loam/Alluvial Soils

Mowing frequency will be dependent on a number of factors, grass growth, sward type, level or standard of facility, resources (staff and machinery). Generally, it may only need mowing on a weekly/fortnightly basis to keep tidy during the winter months. The mowing height on the courts should be maintained between 12mm and 18mm.

Newly sown courts can attract birds that feed on the seed, it may pay to install a bird scarer to help keep them at bay.

Useful Information for Mowing

Articles Products
Facts about mowing
Tennis Lawn / Hockey Pitch Grass Seed

Pitchcare run Lantra Awards accredited courses for groundsmen on the maintenance of Bowling Greens. To find out more, visit the Pitchcare training website - Pitchcare Training

Other Tasks for the Month
  • Artificial Surfaces:- 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 - keep surface clean, rolling to consolidate surface, levelling and brushing of fast dry materials, brushing to clean lines.

  • Clay courts - regular sweeping and brushing to restore playing levels using SISIS Trulute or similar equipment. Topdress any hollows or damaged areas. Repaint lines.

  • Tarmacadam - regular sweeping and brushing. Repair any hollows or damaged areas. Repaint lines.

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