Ideally, end of season renovations should have been completed by now, making good use of the favourable weather conditions. Some delays may have occurred but there is little time for further delay. The longer you leave your renovations the less likely you will obtain favourable germination rates. Air temperatures tend to drop in October thus slowing down grass growth.
Many greens will have been extensively over played resulting in plenty of wear and compaction. The aim of the renovations is to repair and rejuvenate the greens, repairing all worn areas, reducing thatch layers, restoring surface levels and re-introducing some finer grasses back into the sward. Once the renovations have been completed the greens usually remain closed until next spring.
Diseases, particularly fusarium, are often prevalent during the autumn, mainly due to the heavy dews that are present at this time of the year. Moisture on the leaf will allow diseases to move and spread easily. Regular brushing in the mornings to remove the moisture from the leaf is an important maintenance regime to deter an attack of disease.
Brushing/switching of the playing surface keeps the green clean and removes any dew or surface water. Keeping the surface dry will aid resistance to disease. A Sweepfast Cleansweep/Greensweep or similar type of drag mat is ideal for keeping the surfaces clean, it not only removes the dew but collects any surface debris at the same time.
With autumn leaves beginning to fall, keep the playing surfaces clean and tidy. Remember to inspect and clean out drain outfalls and gullies.
With the season finished and the green closed down for the winter, mowing will only be required to maintain a winter height of cut at 8-12mm.
Aeration will be a key activity going into the winter months. The use of different tines will be more beneficial rather than continuing to use the same tine at the same depth. There are many different aeration techniques available for use. Sarrell rollers are widely used to open up the top 5-8mm, keeping the surface free draining and thus helping to reduce the incidence of disease.
Aeration techniques using solid micro tines and knife tines, between 75mm-150mm, can be used for deeper penetration. However, with the development of new technologies we now have available a range of even deeper penetrating aerators that offer alternative methods of aerating the soil profile.
These come in the form of linear aerators such as the Earthquake that produces narrow slits to a depth of 200mm at 200mm apart. Also SISIS and Toro have manufactured a spiker that can inject air into the soil profile.
More recently there has been the introduction of the Dryject, a water injection machine that forms a unique aeration channel that fractures the soil three dimensionally and fills it with a selected amendment. Not only are you de-compacting your green but also you have the facility to incorporate some amendments of your choice, such as, seed, sand and organic supplements.
Whichever aeration method is used it should be undertaken when the soil conditions allow clean, deep penetration without disturbing the playing surface, ideally when there is sufficient moisture in the profile.
It will be important to know what depth your soil profile goes to. Many old greens have been laid on clinker ash bases. You do not really want to disturb these.
The frequency of aeration will also be dependant on weather conditions and the aeration method being used. It is not uncommon to keep aerating on a monthly basis throughout the winter.
Apart from the ongoing maintenance that is required on the green, the club should take the opportunity to carry out some general works to improve various aspects of their ground. It may be a case of tree / hedge works, drainage works or clearing out ditches and improving paths and fence lines. Make good use of this valuable time.
Many bowling clubs often have high hedges surrounding there green, try and keep them at a manageable height 6-10 feet (2-3 metres). Tall hedges not only create shade problems but are harder to maintain.
It is important to control worm populations on the green, if left unchecked you may find yourself overrun with worm casts that invariably leads to uneven surfaces and a sanctuary for weeds to invade.
Worm activity can be quite prevalent in November, keep an eye the green and treat accordingly. 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. Regular brushing or drag matting of the square will help disperse casts when friable.
Air and soil temperatures are dropping reducing the respiration rate of the grass plant. The grass plant is now entering its dormant stage. Applying fertilisers during November and through the winter months is not always a viable option. The plant cannot and will not be able to make good use of the fertilisers. Any growth produced by the plant may be susceptible to disease attack.
However, if grass shows signs of stress (weak growth, discoloured) and you do happen to have some favourable mild weather conditions then apply a small dose of fertiliser to top up nutrient deficiencies.
The winter months allow groundstaff time to catch up with some much needed structural repairs and servicing of equipment repairs to ditches, paths, gates, floodlights and other building features.
Keep an eye on your material stocks, remember to replenish as required. On the machinery front the winter period is an ideal time to book your mowers and other machines in for their annual service.