February Maintenance at the Hurlingham club
By Peter Craig
We are currently maintaining a cutting height of 16mm on the tennis courts and making sure they are kept at this height especially during these mild weather periods when we experience flushes of growth. I am trying for the first time a slow release fertiliser, with the idea of keeping the grass healthy and maintaining a consistent colour during the winter period. We are pleased it is having the desired affect slowly but surely, however we will be keeping a critical eye on its performance.
If it does not have the desired affect, we need to decide what to do? Do we put down a compound fertiliser or wait to see if the slow release kicks in. We may find that both fertilisers could start stimulating growth at the same time? Which may give rise to an unwanted flush of growth that may inspire disease attack.
We have been lucky so far we have not suffered any disease on the tennis courts this year to date this may be due to the courts being predominantly rye grass. However we have seen our first outbreak of fusarium on one of the bowling greens. Having identified the outbreak we are extra vigilant. Keeping an eye on the other turf surfaces, enabling us to act quickly if further outbreaks appear. We will apply chemical controls to eradicate the disease early to prevent the disease establishing and scarring the turf surface. To ensure we keep the diseases at bay we are continuing with our daily dewing tasks, with the lads carrying out switching and caning the turf surfaces every morning.
We are currently deciding on what action to take on the moss we have on the old block tennis courts, the moss has invaded these courts because they are situated at the lowest part of the site are in shade and drain the worst. There is no point in killing the moss at the moment. If we kill it and do not remove it the dead moss will sit there and provide a bed for more moss colonisation.
I am waiting for a dryer weather spell where we can put on a liquid iron to knock out the moss, followed by scarification utilising the new John Deere triple we have bought fitted with thatchaway reels / buff reels to remove the debris. After which we will over seed.
We have a lot of over seeding to complete due to poor seed germination last autumn especially on the tennis courts. This was due to the dry weather experienced in the latter part of autumn. We managed to get good germination on the courts with the early renovation works in September but failed with the renovation reseeding done in late autumn when seed failed to germinate.
We may see some germination from seed sown in the autumn that has been lying dormant; we hope it will come through in the spring when soil temperatures increase. However we will need to add a lot more, starting reasonably early to ensure the courts establish themselves quickly before use. Depending on the weather we anticipate to over seed in the middle of March.
The staff will begin to reduce the height of cut in 1mm increments on their machines in March with the aim of reducing the height of cut by 1mm per week until we are down to 8mm, being careful not to stress the grass plant out. And finally we have completed all refurbishment and repairs to posts, nets and all tennis furniture, ordering new if required, ensuring we are ready for the coming season.
Other works that will be starting in late February early March involves the laying of 2500 square metres of big roll turf. This is part of the landscaping works around a new building development that opens in April. My team are carrying out the all the preparation works, with Inturf supplying and laying the big rolls of rye grass SS1 turf. We will be also installing additional irrigation sprinkler systems in this area to help maintain the turf.