As a new year begins, it is perhaps a good time to reflect on what you have achieved last year, and then plan what you want to achieve in the coming year. Keeping records and monitoring the performance of your turf facility should be encouraged. How can we be expected to know how to improve the condition of the sward if we do not recognise or understand its current state?

Always keep records of the work you have carried out and the materials/products you have applied. Also, take the opportunity to take soil samples to monitor soil nutrient status and level of soil ph. When taking core samples you can also keep an eye on thatch content and soil moisture content.

Investing in your green will have long term benefits, keeping the green healthy and producing a high quality playing surface will help promote the club, and even encourage the joining of new members.

Early in the Month 1st - 15th January

Recent mild weather, with air and soil temperatures creeping into double figures has stimulated some grass growth. So, there may be a need to get the mower out to retain winter height of cut of between 5 -12 mm.

Many clubs are now using pedestrian rotary mowers with rear rollers to cut their greens during the winter period. These mowers have the added bonus of being able to suck up surface debris and leave the greens clean and tidy.

It's important to ensure you are carrying out your daily brushing to keep the surface clean and, at the same time, removing any early morning dews. Keeping the playing surface clean and dry helps prevent disease and contamination.

This can be achieved by using brushes and dragmats. Also, brushing of the green will help the sward stand upright allowing good air movement around the grass plant.

Later in the Month 16th January - onwards

January /February is a good time to take soil samples and get them sent off for analysis, thus enabling you to get them back in time to start your new year's maintenance Ideally, if you have not had one done before you should have a full (PSD) Particle Size Distribution soil analysis done to tell you the actual make up of your soil profile.

Soil is made up of percentages of clay, silt and sand. The PSD analysis will identify the ratio of these and confirm soil type, thus giving you a better understanding of what soil you are dealing with.

Also, you can establish the amount of organic matter (OM) content as well as soil nutrient status and soil Ph. With this information you will be able to identify the needs of your soil.

Carrying out these test also allows you to check other physical conditions of the green, such as root depth , levels of compaction and aerobic state of the soil.

Key Tasks for January
Mowing and Brushing
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Subject to ground conditions, you should be maintaining your winter height of cut between 5-12mm. To help monitor the correct height of cut, use a prism gauge.

Brush daily, if possible, to remove morning dews and help prevent disease and contamination.

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Aeration
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Should be continued throughout the winter when conditions allow; the use of a sarrel roller will be beneficial in keeping the surface open.

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Disease
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Keep an eye on fungal disease attack and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. Good cultural practices generally reduce the likelihood of disease outbreaks.

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Fertiliser
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Generally, no fertiliser applications are made during the winter months, as plant growth has slowed down. However, some groundstaff may apply a dose of liquid iron to colour up and provide some strength to the grass plant.

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Other Tasks for the Month
  • Machinery and sundries: keep machines overhauled and clean. Arrange the servicing of your machines ready for the new season. Keep an eye on your material stocks (seed, topdressing, petrol, oil), remembering to replenish as required.

  • Perimeter fences and hedges: most bowling green facilities are enclosed by fences or hedges. January is a good time to complete any tidying up of these features. Hedges can be pruned and cut to maintain their shape and form.

  • Repairs: carry out any repairs to ditches, paths, gates, floodlights and other building features. Ideally, you should have your floodlights serviced on an annual basis to check that they are safe and operating to the correct LUX values. Also, check that the lights are correctly positioned, thus preventing unwanted light pollution.