March maintenance at Chapel Allerton Tennis Club
The frequency of cutting will be increasing due to the warmer temperatures. Start reducing now at 1mm increments per week until you reach the playing height of 8mm by May. Mowing should be at least twice a week in different directions to avoid nap formation and encourage tillering.
Overseeding is advisable to get some seed into any bare areas you may have and to help increase sward density. I like to seed generously as this will also reduce potential ryegrass crowning however, care has to be taken to avoid damping off disease.
Deeper aeration should now be ceased. it is better and more viable to use a sarel roller or hydro-jet method of aerating to keep the surface open. Deep aeration holes / slits may cause problems later in the year when the soil begins to dry out.
Rolling should ideally commence with a pedestrian mower or an un-ballasted roller. Roll firstly across the line of play to settle any frost heave that may have occurred. It is vitally important to pre-season roll as we don't want the pitches to dry out of their own accord. Our main aim is to consolidate our profile and at the same time control the release of any trapped water in the soil.
Be careful not to go to heavy to early, ensure you have done enough lighter rolling prior to bringing on the heavier rollers. Effective consolidation is all about rolling during the optimum moisture conditions of your soils.
Now is an ideal time for a soil analysis, then you can govern your nutrient programme towards your results. A good tip is to sarel roll prior to any applications of liquid or granular fertilising products. The shallow holes produced by the sarel roller act as a key for the material and help with the percolation of liquid materials.
A very light dressing can be carried out presuming the dressing is dry and an ideal tilth is created (sarel rolling). At the same time additional grass seed can be sown to infill any bare areas. However, the dressing needs sufficient time to be absorbed into the sward.
In the meantime regular brushing of early morning dew will be helpful, reducing the wetness of the leaf blade will help deter disease and help the sward stand up.
It is important to keep your mowers clean and serviced, check your cylinder blades on a daily basis, ensure they remain sharp, with a even cut along the bottom blade. Rye grass swards tend to be more difficult to cut.
Ensure all tennis equipment i.e. nets, weights, hooks and straps are ordered as breakages do occur to equipment.
A diary should be kept with tournaments, commencement of play and other daily info. Also try to log all management and maintenance practices down, as this will help you when comparing the success of certain practices and timing of operations.
Do a stock check and have plenty of spare seed, topdressing and fungicide available, as you do not want to get caught out.