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.
The success of the renovations will be down to effectiveness of the work undertaken - appropriate scarification, aeration, top dressing and overseeding.
Effective scarification removes unwanted thatch debris that has built up over the growing season. Ideally, you need to scarify the green in three passes increasing the depth of penetration on each pass. The green should then be aerated to a depth of between 100-150 mm using solid tines. The green is then oversown ensuring the seed makes good seed to soil contact. The green is then topdressed with a 70/30 or 60/40 sand soil dressing usually 2-4 tonnes per green. The topdressing is then worked into the surface using drag mats/brushes/lutes.
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.
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.
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 the depth of your soil profile. 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 dependent on weather conditions and the aeration method being used. It is not uncommon to keep aerating on a monthly basis throughout the winter.
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 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.
Carry out any 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.