September Tennis Diary

By Laurence Gale MSc

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The season's play is coming to an end with many clubs having finished their club competitions. General maintenance regimes will continue, brushing, mowing and watering as and when required especially while air temperatures remain warm and influencing grass growth.

September also brings heavy morning dews, it is important to brush and remove the dew from turf surfaces to prevent the likelihood of disease attack. Red thread and Fusarium can be quite prevalent at this time of the year.

Most clubs will have already begun sourcing and obtaining materials and services to fulfil their Autumn renovation programmes.

If you do decide to use external contractors to carry out your renovations, ensure you have checked their credentials and they have the relevant skills, experience and machinery to do the job. Obtain references.

It is important to ensure that all materials (seed, fertilisers, topdressings and any hired machinery) have arrived and are secured and stored safely on site ready for use. Often, when ordering materials late, you may be faced with delays on delivery or not being able to get the products you want in time for your planned works.

The objectives of end of season renovations are:

  • To repair worn areas.

  • Prevent a build up of thatch layers (scarification).

  • Restore surface levels (top dressing).

  • Alleviate compaction (aeration).

  • Re-establish sward densities. (overseeding).

  • Application of pre seeding/autumn fertilisers to promote sward establishment.

Most clubs will begin their end of season renovations in mid September making good use of the warm soil temperatures to initiate good seed germination.

Autumn Renovations

The following activities are generally implemented during autumn renovations and usually carried out in the following order, when conditions allow. The sequence of operations and their intensity will vary from court to court according to the condition of the sward at the end of the playing season.

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Mowing the sward, preparing surfaces for renovation. Lower cutting height to about 3-4mm to clean and prepare courts for renovation operations. The mower can then be used to clean up the court after scarifying has been completed.


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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. However, in most cases if regular verticutting/grooming has taken place during the growing season you would probably only be required to scarify in two directions. Depth of scarification 4-10mm depending on thatch content.

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Aerate to relieve compaction and encourage root development. This operation is often carried out later in the year mid November when the soils have become more moist allowing the potential for deep aeration (150-200mm depth).

Aeration is the decompaction of soil, improving air and gas exchange in the soil profile. Depending on the turf's condition, you can choose to carry out hollow or solid tine spiking. Hollow tines are generally used on a bi annual basis or when you have a severe thatch problem.

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Top dressing, restores levels and improves surface drainage. ensure you use compatible top dressing materials, There are many clay loam suppliers who can offer advice on which products to use, preferably a loam with a 18% clay cotent. Spreading of the materials 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 during dry weather.

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Brushing to incorporate dressings and to help the grass stand back up. Brushing in with a lute or drag brush/mat to restore levels.

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Overseeding, restores grass populations. Important to ensure a good groove or hole is made to receive the seed, good seed soil contact is essential for seed germination. Good moisture and soil temperatures will see the seed germinate between 7-14 days.

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Fertilising, provides nutrients for grass growth. Apply a low N nitrogen fertiliser product something like a Autumn Fertiliser NPK 5:5:15 to help the sward through the autumn period.

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Watering/Irrigation. It is essential to keep the sward watered after renovations to ensure your seed germinates.


Further information on renovation techniques and equipment can be seen on the following link. Renovation.