As we left fairly settled weather behind at the end of September, the Met Office are promising more of the same for October, but with more persistent rain for the south of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland in the middle of the month. Depending on where you are in the UK, temperature will be either around or a couple of degrees below average.
This settled weather should allow groundsman to complete any unfinished renovations, tidy up the green after, what was, a pretty dreadful summer for most and then move on to their winter projects.
Key Tasks for October
During October the following activities are usually undertaken:
- Regular brushing in the mornings to remove the moisture from the leaf is an important maintenance regime to deter an attack of disease.
- Monitor thatch levels and aerate to achieve desired levels of oxygen within the sward.
- Tip the grass when necessary to prevent any excessive growth taking place
- Apply further top-dressing if any holes or hollows require
- Check for disease and pests, seek advice if necessary
- Drag brush daily
- Spike if conditions are right
End of Season Renovations
The success of the renovations will be down to the appropriate work undertaken including:
The objectives of end of season renovations are:
- To remove thatch
- To repair worn areas
- To renovate surface levels
- To remove unwanted debris
- To re-establish sward densities (overseeding)
- Application of pre seeding/autumn fertilisers to promote sward establishment
The following activities are usually carried out in the following order, when conditions allow.
Mowing the sward, preparing surfaces for renovation: lower cutting height to about 3-4mm to clean and prepare green for renovation operations.
Scarification, removal of unwanted debris: collect and disposal of arisings. Depending on the severity of the thatch, you may need to scarify several times in different directions and to a depth of 4-15mm.
Aeration will usually be done with solid tines however, occasionally hollow tines will be used if a change of soil texture is required.
Topdressing. 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.
Overseeding. It is important to ensure a good groove or hole is made to receive the seed; good seed to soil contact is essential for seed germination. Good moisture and soil temperatures will see the seed germinate between 7-14 days.
Fertilising. More phosphate and potash is applied during the autumn and winter period to encourage root growth.
Watering/Irrigation is essential after renovations to ensure your seed germinates.
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.
Soil sampling is an important part of groundmanship. The results will enable the manager to have a better understanding of the current status of his soil and turf.
There are many tests that can be undertaken, but usually the main three tests to consider are:
Particle Size Distribution (PSD) this will give you accurate information on the soil type and its particle make up, enabling you to match up with appropriate top dressing materials and ensuring you are able to maintain a consistent hydraulic conductivity (drainage rate) of your soil profile.
Soil pH. It is important to keep the soil at a pH of 5.5-6.5, a suitable level for most grass plants, and a balanced level of organic matter content in the soil profile.
N:P:K: Keeping a balance of N P K nutrients within the soil profile is essential for healthy plant.
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.
The typical types of diseases you may come across are:
- Fusarium Patch
- Red Thread
- Fairy Rings
Please note: More information on these and many others can be found here: https://www.pitchcare.com/useful/diseases.php
It is important to maintain machines by carrying out regular servicing and repairs.
As grass growth slows down, use the time to take some machines out of operation for an overhaul.
- Inspect and clean machinery after use.
- Maintain a stock of consumables for your machinery, replace worn and damaged parts as necessary.
- Secure machinery nightly with good storage facilities and strong locks
- Record makes and models and take pictures of your equipment as additional reference
Pitchcare is the only provider of LANTRA accredited training courses in the maintenance of Bowls Greens. It is a one day course designed to provide a basic knowledge of bowling green maintenance. The course enables the Groundsman to grasp the basic needs of a bowling green surface, either Flat or Crown, throughout a 12 month period.
Delegates attending the Bowling Green course and using the accompanying manual will be able to develop their own skills, working knowledge and expertise, by understanding the method of instruction and the maintenance principle it sets out.
Included in the Course Manual, there are working diaries showing the range of tasks needed to be accomplished each month. The Course Manual is available for purchase separately.
In addition, we are able to arrange courses to be delivered on site to groups of 6 – 10 people. Email Chris Johnson for information.
- Tidy up areas around the green; this would include tasks such as hedge cutting, clearing ditches, painting club house, weeding paths and borders.
- Plan for the forthcoming winter months and the upkeep of ditches, banks and surrounds.