Final call for winter programme
By Maureen Keepin
With considerably wetter winters, it is vital renovation programmes are undertaken as early as possible. Recent data from the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, demonstrates that with a huge increase in the amount of precipitation during the winter months a re-think in management is called for.
"Ordinarily it is the on-set of winter conditions and wet or frozen ground which catches people out," says Ellis Cummins, Sales Executive at Sovereign Turf. "They find that if they have not completed turfing by the first week in December it may not be completed until April or May the following year."
Turfing and seeding Autumn re-turfing programmes focus on root development of the grass plant, as opposed to the production of a lot of top growth. This gives the turf a good start and it is well established by the spring season. "For local authorities providing pay and play facilities the summer is their busiest time of year," wear on the golf courses is particularly prevalent. "This gives the turf time to get established and working through the winter, so it can be mown down to a playable surface the following spring. This is critical as golf is played on a very short surface, generally with a 5mm to 6mm height of cut.
With the bowling season finishing the latter part of September and greens often showing signs of heavy wear, repairs can be carried out using a recognised cost-effective turf or seed mixture. Turfing large sports areas (over 850m2) is more successful using Jumbo rolls, as there are less joins, helping the turf to establish more readily.
Standard rolls are ideal for smaller patching jobs, including around goal mouths and touch lines on soccer pitches. Seed sown in September will produce a very playable sward by March the following year. With a March sowing you will be struggling to get that playable by the beginning of September, the new soccer season.
Feeding the sward following spiking or hollow tining, a sand soil mix of 80/20 or 70/30 should be applied, as this helps to lighten the soil and assist drainage. Feeding with a autumn fertiliser, stimulates growth and assists the grass plant in recovering from its ordeal of heavy traffic.
"It is vitally important to get the soil nutrition right, in terms of using a quality pre-seeding or pre-turf fertiliser," says Chris Briggs, Business Development Manager for Avoncrop Amenity Products.
"Many courses and sports grounds favour environmentally-sound management principles, and there are excellent composted seaweed products which can be used to help provide basic nutrition. Bio-stimulants are also available which encourage faster rooting." When new turf is established, it is important to hollow tine if laid over a new sand construction.
Top dressing with a material similar to the root zone is also important, ensuring that a perched water table is prevented. "Sand is very free draining but turf is often grown on silty soil types," says Chris. "Water can be held up by capillary action, preventing free drainage. Hollow tining and then top dressing helps overcome this problem."