April Tennis Diary


By Laurence Gale

Most of the tasks detailed can be undertaken within a limited budget. Local conditions and circumstances will need to be taken into account. If any members are undertaking any specific work not detailed, please let us know by adding a comment in the section below the diary.

April Maintenance Tasks for Tennis

Natural Grass Tennis Courts

Task Frequency Reason
Aeration When conditions allow Hand or machine aeration to aid surface drainage, (varying depths of penetration to prevent the development of a soil pan). Use small/needle tines or slits (penetration down to 100mm). Regular use of a sarrell roller will aid surface drainage.
Brushing / Sweeping Daily / Weekly Prior to mowing, the surface should be thoroughly brushed, every time. Continue to brush courts daily to remove moisture from the grass surface, stopping the spread of disease and facilitating an improved quality of cut on the dry grass.
Drainage Weekly Inspect drainage outfalls, channels and ditches. Ensure that they are working.
Diseases Daily / Weekly Keep and eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas.
Fertiliser programme If grass shows signs of stress (weak growth, discoloured) Fertiliser treatment and turf tonic can be continued in accordance with your annual programme. If you haven't got a fertiliser programme, have your soil tested; try an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results. Apply a spring fertiliser when conditions allow. Fertilisers can be applied in liquid or granular forms,

Most grounds staff will be applying a spring/summer granular N P K fertiliser, perhaps something like a 12/0/9 or 9/7/7 will effectively get the grass moving during April then, towards the end of April or early May, applying a slow release fertiliser to see you through to June/July. However, the choice of material and how well it works can be dependant on many factors, soil type, weather, with moisture and soil temperature being the catalyst for growth.

The performance of slow release fertilisers can be influenced by the weather, often producing a flush of growth when you least expect it. Some grounds managers may use straight compound granular or liquid fertilisers which activate when in contact with moist soil conditions, effectively stimulating grass growth within days.

Frost and snow As required April weather is generally still very unpredictable, usually resulting in April showers of rain, sleet and snow. Keep people and equipment off playing surfaces when covered in frost and snow.
Inspect Tennis structures As required Continue to check and repair fences, tennis posts, and nets.
Litter / debris Daily / Weekly Inspect and remove debris from playing surface litter or any wind blown tree debris. Litter, twigs and leaves.
Machinery, repairs & maintenance Daily / Weekly Inspect and clean machinery after use, service and repair damaged machinery.
Materials Inspection Estimate and order seed, loams and fertilisers and any other consumables required.
Marking out As required To ensure accurate lines, consult the Lawn Tennis Association's rules and regulations and use approved line marking materials, set out base lines and side lines using the 3,4,5 method.
Mowing As required The mowing height on the courts should be lowered to around 8-10mm height for the playing season, subject to local weather conditions, but remember not to remove more than 1/3 of total grass height in each cut. The less stress that is placed on the grass at this vital time, the better the results further on into the season.

Mowing frequency will be dependant on a number of factors, grass growth, sward type, level or standard of facility, resources (staff & machinery). but generally it may vary from three days a week - weekly frequencies. Usually Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Pest control As required Worm treatments can be carried out if needed, but please remember to ask yourself why are worms present. Ph level, organic matter and your cultural practices on the square need to be assessed.
Rolling Daily / Weekly Continue to roll the courts. Firstly roll across the line of play, followed by rolling down the length of play. Timing of this operation is vitally important. Trying to roll when soil conditions are wet or too drywill not achieve the desired effect. Ideal rolling conditions would suggest the soil be in a state of plasticity-or "plasticine".

Gradually build up roller weight by moving onto the next size of cylinder mower and so on. Consolidation is your aim and the quality of rolling will show when you produce your early season courts.

If the roller is causing damage to the turf surface (ridging) stop rolling and wait for drier conditions.

Scarification Fortnightly Light scarification or verticutting can be carried out at fortnightly intervals pre season. Removing horizontally growing grasses and surface organic matter are always beneficial for the onset of court preparation; together with brushing, this will also improve the quality of cut.
Seed bare & worn areas on Cricket square When conditions allow Seeding sparse or bare areas can be continued. Any rise in soil or air temperatures will help germination. Use germination sheets to aid this process but remove the sheets regularly to check for diseases. Remember that without good seed to soil contact the operation is useless.

Ensure you use new seed as old material may not give you the required germination rates.

Spring Renovation As required

Renovation will involve a number of tasks, scarification, aeration, overseeding, fertilising and topdressing: Click here to see Spring Renovation article.

Generally, the level of renovation will be dependant on budgets, whatever the club/facility can afford. Ideally, the green will be multi cored/aerated to relieve compaction followed by overseeding (applying seed at rate of 17-35gm per sq m) dependant on current sward density. Pre seeding fertiliser may be applied to help the germination of seed. On completion of these tasks, top dressing materials are applied using selected rootzone or sand materials. It is best to evaluate your soil type, getting an analysis of the soil, enabling a good match of materials for your site.

Weed control As required It is important to remove any weeds from the playing surface, as they can affect ball bounce and performance of the court. Weeds can be removed mechanically by hand, or controlled by application of chemicals, usually a broadleaf selective weed killer. Best results are achieved when the soil has warmed up and the grass is actively growing.

Artificial Tennis Courts

Artificial grass systems Weekly Keep surface clean, regular sweeping and brushing. Remove any algae and moss from surface. Sand filled systems require regular brushing to maintain manufacturer's recommendations on sand levels and pile heights.
American Fast Dry courts before/after games Keep surface clean, rolling to consolidate surface, levelling and brushing of fast dry materials, brushing to clean lines.
Clay courts Weekly Keep surface clean, regular sweeping and brushing to restore playing levels using SISIS Trulute or similar equipment. Top dress any hollows or damaged areas. Repaint lines.
Tarmacadam Weekly Keep surfaces clean, regular sweeping and brushing. Repair any hollows or damaged areas. Repaint lines.