We were fortunate last Friday to get everything top-dressed; we were working on eleven of our courts, which is quite a large area of about 3/4 of an acre. We went like the clappers, kept the old machinery going, split our breaks and so on, as we knew that the weather was going to change again. The application of the top dressing was approximately 2½ kg to a square metre and the area is about 7½ thousand square metres overall using a 20% clay mix supplied by Surrey Loam.
Obviously, we have done a lot of work on that area prior to last week, it has all been scarified very heavily with a hydraulic Sisis 'V' mower, we take a lot of rubbish off and usually make about 15 passes in different directions. To follow that up, we also use the Toro verticut unit. This helps to thin the surface out a little bit more as we put our verticut unit in reverse. We did about 4 passes with this machine in different directions, so with the scarifier you get about 20 passes in all, to be fair, it just about destroys the surface sward. Its amazing the amount of stuff you actually get out every year, there is a big haystack around the back now. After scarifying the whole area, we solid tined using a Ryan GA30 at about 8 cm centres and a 9cm depth. The area is usually cut down to about 5 mm with our mowers, really tight, so that we can follow that up with seeding. Once seeded, we brushed the courts with a big 12ft brush to work the seed into the surface. This was then followed with last week's top dressing. At this time of the year we like to bolster the renovation with a little bit of soil conditioner, usually using something like Headland Turf Manager.
We finished Devonshire Park last Friday about two weeks ahead of last year; last year of course was horrendous. This year it took us just over a month to do the whole lot, which was pretty good and we have got reasonable germination on the courts already. With the weather being warm and wet, we will probably be out there cutting early next week.
Now we are renovating the bowling greens, we have a couple of bowling greens that we do. We follow a similar approach to the tennis courts, with not quite such a heavy scarification, but a good 'rip-out'. We will be aerating hopefully today with the same sort of pattern as at 'the park', but we usually don't seed until the spring. So all we will be doing is top dressing with about three tonnes of 70-30 rootzone, a sand/soil bowling green mix, again we also apply a little soil conditioner and we may be finished early next week I hope.
As I said it has been very mild down here so the fairy rings are still quite active with those green rings showing up. Some areas of the park are more susceptible to disease than others, usually Fusarium. And we also get problems in some areas with dollar spot, I'm not entirely sure why, but we do!
The bowling greens are pretty much the same, a little bit of dollar spot and Fusarium which we need to keep an eye on, but the last few years certainly on the main green, disease has not been a major problem. We always spray, like everyone does, for leather jackets, we had a lot of crane fly activity about three weeks ago, there were clouds of the things, it can be a big problem if you don't spray, so we usually spray around late November early December and that usually knocks them on the head, around this time they are just emerging or have just emerged, so we use Loresban from Rigby Taylor, that does the job.
We have no other major renovations to do this year, but we hope to make adjustments to one or two of our base lines. These have built up over the years from when they used to turf here and therefore need some attention, we are hoping, as soon as we can get out there, to strip the turf off and level some areas out. There is however still quite a lot of other work to do without major renovations and I would like to do more in the way of Verti-draining this year.