April 12, 2021 0 Comments

Athletic Fields: Natural Grass or Synthetic?

Consideration to switch an athletic facility from natural grass to synthetic grass usually boils down to a common goal; less maintenance so it is cost effective. There is an assumption that the man hours and maintenance costs are significantly in favor of synthetic. It is also often assumed that when a field is seeing a lot of use, specifically areas that are considered high traffic for your venue, it can create areas that, especially toward the end of your season, may have a playability impact and require significant maintenance. But is synthetic truly better?

A properly built and maintained natural grass field will still perform even in the areas that appear to be becoming worn. Do not confuse appearance with playability! If the field has been properly developed and maintained, it will continue to perform and restoring the grass in these worn areas does not take much time and effort.

With natural grass, the two most obvious areas that have a financial impact are watering and mowing. To start, many facilities, even if those that have a quality irrigation system in place, overwater their turf, especially in the Spring. This not only will affect the overall water bill, but also will weaken the roots of the grass while promoting the speed of the blade growth. The faster the blades grow, the more the turf must be cut. If the proper turfgrass is in place relative to your sport and environment, for example, a grass that has drought resistance qualities, your water bill can be significantly reduced, even during the high heat/ dry months. Add to that a proper watering schedule specific to the grass type and season, the amount of water required can be significantly reduced. Adding rain sensors to automatically shut off watering during rainy days or rainstorms is impactful on the health of your grass. Less maintenance will be required as well having a positive budgetary impact.

Fertilization programs are essential to the health of turfgrass. Choose the correct fertilizer for the type of grass and the environment. Equally as important is the timing of the applications. If early-stage fertilizer is applied before the rise ground temperature, it will negate its effectiveness. Most fertilizers require moisture following application. However, if the grass if overwatered or the application is too close to a rainstorm, the fertilizer can be washed away or pool causing more damage than benefit. Again, using the correct fertilizer, proper application timing and appropriate volume can have a positive impact on your budget.

One of the biggest advantages of natural grass is the ground-heat impact. Natural grass can absorb and dissipate heat to an extent keeping the mid-day ground temperature very close to the air temperature whereas, on a hot, sunny, low wind day, synthetic turf can elevate surface temperatures as much as 50% higher than natural turfgrass.

Another positive impact of natural turfgrass is the improvement of air quality. Turfgrass, as a green leaf plant, solicits the photosynthesis process producing oxygen while reducing carbon dioxide. Turfgrass is also a natural air and dust filtration system.

Playability may be the largest difference among the two. Potential injuries from direct impact on healthy grass has historically had an advantage over synthetic turf. Players tends to be able to gain a better grip on natural grass. Even healthy but worn, high-trafficked areas still perform extremely well. Just because the area is stressed does not mean it will have a negative impact on the game or practice.

When comparing typical maintenance costs for a well-maintained natural turfgrass field to a synthetic field (post-installation, including typical and often unsightly replacement sections but not including the additional required equipment as there is specialty equipment required), you will find the cost is negligible. However, the proven mental and physical health advantages of a turfgrass field far outweigh that of a synthetic field.

March 19, 2021 0 Comments

To Sod or to Seed

To sod or to seed is a question that has been asked for many years. There are several factors that must be considered when making this decision for your home; initial budget, size and shape of the lawn, your timeline, and the effort you are willing to put into the job.
Time & Aesthetics
Seed may be initially much less expensive, but it is labor intensive. It often requires knowledge of the seed and soil, including the soil preparation, and has little guarantee of your desired result. It often takes 6 to 12 months for seed to grow into an established lawn and up to 2 years for a newly seeded lawn to grow and fill in to a beautiful, thick lawn. Seeds can blow away in the wind, dry out or be washed away, not to mention just fail to germinate. Weeds also mix well with new seed so weed prevention and maintenance are required.

Sod looks great immediately after it is installed. It requires less soil preparation and will mitigate significantly more potential soil erosion than waiting for seed to germinate. You will often have an established, healthy lawn in about 2 weeks after the sod is installed. Young grass shoots and blades are very delicate and require proper care to mature. Sod is harvested as mature grass that has strong, healthy roots that just need to grow into your existing soil. Lawns with significant slopes are prone to soil erosion and very difficult to seed and properly water.

According to several real estate sources, a well landscaped lawn can add significant value to your home. Sod can add anywhere from an additional 50% over cost to as much as five times the cost depending on the current lawn condition.


If you are selling your home, your front landscaping is the first thing that is seen. For a lawn that needs considerable attention, sod will provide an instant upgrade to your curb appeal and has proven to gain a return upon sale.

Initially, Sod and professional sod installation can get expensive, especially if you have a large lawn that needs to be covered. Although sod costs up to about $1.00 – $1.50 per square foot more than seed. You must also consider the cost of the soil preparation, post seed care, special fertilizers, and the time before you have the lawn you desire if you choose to seed your lawn.
Sod Wins

The benefits of professionally installed Sod far outweigh that of seed. The cost of seeding is much less from the start. However, once you consider the additional fertilizer and maintenance required, cost over the next 12 to 24 months is negligible. An instant, lush lawn that requires much less effort is its own reward.

March 5, 2021 0 Comments

Salicylic Acid – Turfgrass Health Activator and Disease Management

Salicylic acid is a phytohormone and a key component of a plant’s development, growth, photosynthesis, transpiration, and is a part of the natural signaling system as an integral layer in the plant’s pathogen defense mechanism, or Systemic Acquired Resistance (SAR).

In lay terms, it has been discovered that plants’ internal pathways that are vital to healing and plants natural health defense system includes a vital molecule called salicylic acid, or SA. SA is a key component of the plant’s natural healing process and defense mechanism, or SAR (Systemic Acquired Resistance). To put it in simple terms: it helps defend against what could make a plant sick or stressed and helps the healing processes if an infection occurs. SA contributes to the fight of abiotic stresses like heat, cold, wind, drought, and salinity imbalances as well as foreign pathogens.

Plants can recognize pathogens and react in a manner like our immune system, releasing stored SA to the infected cells along with the adjacent cells. Plants exchange gasses (photosynthesis) through pores in the plants leaves and stems. The surrounding guard cells regulate the opening and closing, along with the size of these pores. SA will instigate and assist in the rapid closing of these pores when pathogens are recognized.

Turfgrass possesses neither the ability to recognize potential invading pathogens nor store excess SA therefore leaving it susceptible diseases due to the lack of a built-up immunity. In fact, in turfgrass, it is produced after the plant is infected to battle the disease. The artificial application of SA will assist in the instigation of SAR providing the necessary components to both suppress as well as help fight diseases more efficiently.

Stress from high traffic and low mowing heights on sand-based turfgrass will require certain nutrient supplements to strengthen the leaf tissue. SA applications on Sports turf may provide similar benefits as applying seaweed extracts to increase balance the antioxidant system of the grass. The combination of the two can greatly improve the soil nutrients while increase plant’s tolerances to internal and external stresses and promote post-infection healing.

A fungicide program is standard practice in the health and maintenance of greens. However, adding an SAR booster like a product that contains salicylic acid can significantly improve the health of your green by strengthening its pathogen defenses. The results of numerous tests also concurred that the application including SA will help in the heat stress management of Kentucky Bluegrass, Fine and Tall Fescue.

While golf course turfgrass health is one of the most significant costs involved in course management, building the immune system of your turfgrass can be a cost-efficient way of dealing with the inevitable pathogens and heat stresses – build stronger, healthier shoots and leaves that can fend off potential disease and withstand the summer heatwave, also potentially shortening the disease cycle if they do become infected.

Be certain to check the suggested SA ratio as applications differ based on the type of grass, your climate, and the products you choose as a part of your turfgrass health management program.

March 3, 2021 0 Comments

The New England Crab Grass Battle

The New England Crab Grass Battle

If you spend time on and take pride in your thick green lawn, or if you are tired of looking out over a thin, unhealthy lawn, you will agree that crab grass is a nuisance. It is aggressive and will spread rapidly if left untreated. So, what is the best course of action to make certain your lawn comes in as crab-grass free as possible this year and beyond?

First, you should understand a little about crab grass. A single crab grass plant can product up to about 150,000 seeds, therefore, they spread extremely fast. You have two opportunities to address the problem; before these seeds germinate in the Spring, and, if they do, before the plant goes to seed in the Fall. Crab grass can tolerate long periods of high heat and dry conditions, ironically when your lawn is at its weakest and in the areas adjacent to your hardscapes (driveways, walkways, stoned areas, etc.) that require special attention as they tend to emit heat and create conditions that are more favorable for crab grass growth.

Pre-emergent herbicides

Like most lawn issues, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Let us start by attacking the seeds before they germinate in the Spring.
Know your lawn. A thick, healthy sod with some shade and a few patches of crabgrass will require a much less aggressive treatment than a thin lawn that receives a heavy dose of sun throughout the day.
A thin lawn is a prime candidate for a pre-emergent treatment. Usually, a single treatment in March or early April will stop the germination of the crab grass seeds. Learning the line between a heavy treatment and too much is important to understand as well. You do not want to suppress the healthy grass seeds from their Fall germination process. The right balance will allow a lawn that needs more attention to still benefit from a good aeration and Spring seeding.

Post emergent herbicides.

If you have hot spots or are working with a thinner, less healthy law that receives uninhibited sunlight and the problem has been persistent for more than a couple of seasons, a one-step program most likely will not fix your lawn’s woes. The crab grass that does sprout will require attention as well, especially near your hardscapes and other hot spots. It is important to address these areas in July and August, You want to spray before these areas of crab grass go to seed for the Fall, with a post emergent spray.

The healthier your lawn, the less work it will require. A thick, healthy lawn can naturally make the conditions unfavorable and suppress the growth of new weeds. Specifically, during the Spring and in the early summer months, while the crab grass seeds are starting to germinate, keeping your lawn slightly longer will create stress by reducing the amount of light these weeds receive. Irrigation or healthy watering habits will keep your lawn stronger and reducing the impact of these weeds during the dry soil season. Make certain you are giving special attention to your lawn areas adjacent to your hardscapes.

*This article was written under the “Ask Tuckahoe Turf” which provides helpful suggestions or tips for the homeowner or residential lawn. If you feel your lawn is beyond repair or if you would like a beautiful, thick, and healthy lawn this season, contact Tuckahoe Turf right away! 800-556-6985 Tuckahoe Turf Farms has been growing turf for the professional for over 40 years!

February 18, 2021 0 Comments

Will the Mild Fall and Accumulating Snow Cause Snow Mold This Spring?

Ask Tuckahoe Turf

Will the Mild Fall and Accumulating Snow Cause Snow Mold This Spring?

As we are all aware, we have had frequent and a heavy snowfall this winter. We also had a mild late fall that ran right into our first snowstorm of the season. This combination could be a recipe for snow mold this Spring.
The amount of snow does not generally have a negative impact on our lawns. In fact, a frozen ground and the snow works as an insulating blanket that protects the below-ground living turf grass cells. However, if the ground has not completely frozen when the first snow falls, the moisture in the ground is trapped by the blanket of snow keeping the ground moist and humid. Continued snow covering works as an insulator to keep the unfrozen ground conditions consistent throughout the winter and protects it from the freezing cold air. This allows the formation and thriving of fungal diseases known as snow mold.
There are two types of snow mold: Gray Snow Mold and Pink Mold. They will present in patches of apparent dead grass ranging diameter from a couple of inches to a couple of feet.
Gray snow mold has a straw or gray color. It is far less threatening to your lawn than Pink snow mold as it only kills the blades, not the roots. Gray mold generally survives until temperatures are consistently above about 45 degrees. Then the mold dies off and new grass shoots will generally start to grow again.
Pink snow mold appears red, brown, copper or pink among the dead grass. Pink snow mold can cause severe damage to your grass’ roots, killing your turf and typically survives until temperatures raise consistently above 60 degrees.


To start, you must remember that snow mold is a fungus and requires moisture to survive. The first step in treatment is to simply give the area a good dethatching with a rake to remove all the dead grass and any leaves that may remain from the previous fall (thatch and leaves trap moisture in the ground helping the fungus to thrive). This will allow sunlight and wind access to the affected area so it may properly dry and giving the living grass the room it needs to grow.
Mow the affected and surrounding areas shorter than usual to aid in the drying process, and shortening the lifespan of the mold, keeping the grass very short until you see growth. Make sure you rake the area thoroughly after each mow to keep the affected area as clean as possible allowing it too efficiently dry.
If your lawn has the Pink snow mold, the mold is significant or your turf just is not returning, you will most likely need to reseed (or even overseed in the late Spring). If snow mold has been a recurring issue to this point, you may want to consider Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescue as they seem to be the most resistant to the fungi. Remember not to fertilize or mow the areas you have seeded until the new grass is growing strong.


There are several things you can do to prevent the breeding of snow mold.

  • Removal of loose grass. This includes gathering of clippings, especially late in the summer and into the fall. Dethatching as needed will allow your lawn to grow stronger in the summer months and allow the ground to dry faster before the first snowfall.
  • Keep the grass short and do not overwater in the Fall. Continue to mow your lawn, shorter than usual, if the grass continues to grow, until becoming dormant for the winter. Mold is more likely to form under longer, matted grass.
  • Remove leaves before the first snow. It is extremely important to remove as many of the leaves from the turf as possible. Leaves are a fantastic moisture barrier for your lawn and one of the best ingredients for mold growth.
  • Fertilize at the right time. Fertilizing your lawn too close to the first snow will promote the late growth of your green grass when it should be dormant in preparation for the winter. Try to apply your last lawn fertilization at least six weeks prior to the first expected snowfall.
  • Apply a fungicide if the problem is recurring. Although this is not recommended for home lawns, if you get mold rings every Spring, you may need to apply a fungicide late in the Fall to stunt the growth of the mold. In these extreme cases, a professional fungicide application is recommended.
  • Spread your snow. When shoveling walkways and driveways, try not to make piles too large on your lawn. When there are snow accumulations later in the winter that led right into warmer early Spring weather, the snowbanks from plows, driveway and walkway shoveling take longer to melt. The longer these areas are covered, the more chance there is of developing mold. As the snow is melting, it is a good idea to help break down these remaining piles and spread them out to promote quicker melting.
  • December 30, 2020 0 Comments

    Winter play in a time of heavy play

    More golf during COVID-19 means more activity than usual on colder days. Learn how a few cool-weather veterans are handling the situation.
    Many golf facilities experienced a surge in play this season. That trend has continued with the approach of the holiday season and the end of 2020.

    But the increase in play has potential consequences for the turf, particularly in northern latitudes where superintendents must balance concern for the health of the turf against employer/member desire to accommodate as many rounds as possible.

    Dave Oatis spent two decades overseeing the USGA Green Section’s Northeast Region before retiring in 2019. He’s now a turf consultant, who worked with around 60 golf facilities this past year. He notes that while increased cold-weather play puts turf at risk, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought out more golfers.

    “We can socially distance and play quite nicely,” he says, “so most of the facilities I’ve worked with this year have experienced a significant increase in play. On average, I think it’s around 30 percent, some definitely lower, some considerably more. Some literally doubled the number of rounds they have in the past.”

    Oatis says one of his chief turf-related concerns is increased cart traffic. “Some golfers are insisting on taking their own golf cart, which is certainly their right,” he adds. “So when you see a foursome go out with four carts, that’s double normal traffic. There is significant concern for the effects of extra traffic on turf.”

    Oatis, who is based near Bethlehem in eastern Pennsylvania, also recommends that superintendents utilize temporary greens and tees in the winter.

    Russell Harris is the director of maintenance operations for three public facilities in Union County, New Jersey, a little over a half-hour west of midtown Manhattan.

    The county’s crown jewel is Galloping Hill, which regularly hosts more than 60,000 rounds each year. Harris is also responsible for Ash Brook, an 18-hole facility, and Scotch Plains, a 9-holer. Between them, the three courses regularly host more than 100,000 annual rounds. The total for 2020 will likely be within 5,000 rounds of that, despite the courses being closed for seven weeks in the spring and having to restrict tee times for an additional three weeks. The three course are open year-round, unless they are snow covered.

    “We tend to stay fairly busy throughout the winter,” Harris says. “We’re surrounded by a bunch of higher-end (private clubs) that probably close down for the winter. So, we do we some steady play even in normal winters.”

    And heading into December, when the weather was still mild, Harris was busier than ever. He told Golf Course Industry that revenue in November of 2020 was double what it was for November of 2019. From a maintenance standpoint, Harris’s chief concerns during the winter months are divots on the tee boxes and cart traffic.

    “We tend to go cart-path only usually from December 1 through the whole winter,” he says. “We also limit our teeing grounds, we go from four sets of tees to two. And they’re usually kept in the same spots all winter. It’s easier to come out in the spring and fix (divots).”

    Harris and his team continue to topdress tees and greens through the winter when conditions allow. When he spoke with Golf Course Industry, he had recently completed his last chemical application for the year (for winter snow mold).

    Because of the volume of play, Harris’s seasonal staff was still on duty as the calendar turned to the winter season. His in-season workforce numbers approximately 20. During the winter months, it is customary for a full-time staff of a dozen to remain on duty to maintain all three courses in the county system. But things are different this season.

    “The weather for the most part has been pretty good, so we’re still trying to out and change tees and move pins when we can, and rake bunkers,” Harris says. “We’re still booked from morning until the afternoon. We definitely have kept staff on longer.

    The Union County courses are managed by Kemper Sports, which Harris credits for providing him with the resources necessary to maintain the golf courses year-round.

    “They understand how differently their courses across the country need to operate,” he says. “From a budgetary standpoint, and trying to keep our staff, knowing we have to maintain the golf course. They allow us to operate and stay open.”

    Dan Francis is the superintendent at Wildwood Golf Club, a private facility in Middletown Ohio, about a half-hour north of Cincinnati. The club typically hosts 11,000 to 12,000 rounds each year. This year that figure was expected to be around 13,000 rounds, in part because of mild fall weather.

    One of Francis’s chief concerns is frost. The golf course is open through the winter on days when the temperature exceeds 38 degrees. But frost delays are not uncommon. Francis’s reference point is Wildwood’s second green, which is often in shade

    “Standing at my clubhouse, looking at the putting green, you might not see any frost,” he says, “but No. 2 green is covered in shade and will be frosted for a very long time, so that will extend our frost delay perhaps another 30 minutes to an hour.”

    On days when delays occur, the club will offer breakfast in the clubhouse until the frost dissipates. Members are understanding about the need for frost delays. “They trust my decision,” Francis.

    Trust works both ways at the club. On winter mornings when frost is a possibility, a member of the club staff will often drive out to the second green to determine if play should be delayed, and, perhaps, allow Francis extra time at home with his family.

    *This article was shared from: Golfcourseindustry.com written by: Rick Woefel, Philadelphia-based writer and frequent Golf Course Industry Contributor.

    November 14, 2019 0 Comments

    Can I Still Plant? First Frost & Fall Establishment

    Most regions of the U.S., with a few exceptions, have experienced their first frost of the season by now. And landscapers are among that select group of people for whom that first dip into freezing temperatures means more than just it’s going to be a chilly day. An avid gardener, I watch that daily high and low with an eagle eye every fall and spring. On more than one occasion, I’ve had to drop everything and make it a priority to move all my pots indoors for the season. As a result, I’ve come to view that 32 degrees F with a sort of mysticism. It seems a dark magic must be at work to transform a vibrant, huge coleus one day into a wilted mess the very next. So what does first frost actually mean and does it end the planting season?

    Fall Frost Forecasts
    According to the National Weather Service (NOAA), hitting 32 degrees and first frost in the fall aren’t necessarily synonymous. “Frost can occur when the temperature falls below 36°F, especially in rural areas. It is a localized phenomena and can be quite variable across a small area. While the National Weather Service does not keep track of ‘frost’ in observations per se, we do keep track of when temperatures hit the freezing mark or fall below. Frost becomes more widespread when the temperature falls below 32°F with some freeze possible. A hard freeze is possible when temperatures fall below 28°F.” Here’s a breakdown of NOAA terms:

    Frost Advisory: issued when temperatures, winds, and sky cover are favorable for frost development. Most likely when temperatures are less than or equal to 36 degrees. Frost coverage should be more than patchy. If a frost is sufficiently severe to end the growing season, it is commonly referred to as a ‘killing frost.’ What to do – Cover up plants before the sun sets so to help retain heat.

    Freeze Warnings: issued when low temperatures are expected to be 29-32 degrees. What to do – Move sensitive plants inside.

    Hard Freeze Warnings: issued when temperatures are expected to be 28 degrees or less. What to do – Sensitive plants must be moved inside because the freeze will kill them.

    A color coded map from NOAA shows the average date of first freeze in regions across the U.S. A very convenient search of frost risk dates by percentage can also be found on the popular gardening site, Dave’s Garden. Simply type in your area code for information. For instance, when I typed in a NJ area code, it revealed, “Each winter, on average, your risk of frost is from October 15 through April 30. Almost certainly, however, you will receive frost from October 29 through April 17. You are almost guaranteed that you will not get frost from May 13 through October 1. Your frost-free growing season is around 168 days.” It also included charts from three NJ weather stations, provided by the National Climatic Data Center, breaking down by percentages, dates, and temperatures the probability of first freeze or last frost.

    What Can Be Planted?
    Of course, not all horticultural work has to cease after first frost since the soil stays warm longer than the air. Spring flowering bulbs can still be planted until the ground freezes. And while September and October are generally the best months to plant new trees and shrubs, the experts at Davey Tree say as long as the ground isn’t frozen yet, there are still some varieties that can be planted after first frost. Here is more specific advice from Davey’s arborists:

    • Avoid planting evergreens after first frost. It’s difficult for them to establish roots and preserve needles with the limited water supply in winter.

    • Also avoid planting birch, dogwood, willow or magnolia since they need more time to establish. Plant in spring and water throughout the summer.

    • Unless your area has a mild or warm winter, hold off on planting new fruit trees until the spring so they aren’t damaged by winter weather.

    • Generally, other deciduous trees and shrubs can be planted if they will have at least four to six weeks to establish roots and drink water before the soil freezes.

    • Not sure about soil temps? Use a soil thermometer. If soil is consistently 50 degrees or higher, it’s safe to plant deciduous trees or shrubs.

    • In areas where the ground does not freeze, late fall and winter planting can actually be ideal because trees can establish roots before hot, dry weather sets in.

    *In Florida, you can most likely plant any time of year, but unlike the states listed above, the rainy season from May to October is best.

    • If you do plant, make sure to mulch and water weekly until the ground freezes. Trees that have been planted for at least a year can be fertilized when dormant in late fall or early winter.

    This article was shared from Turfmagazine.com

    September 1, 2019 0 Comments

    Determining The Need For Reconstruction

    By James Moore, U.S. Golf Association
    This is one of the most important questions that can be asked regarding every golf course. Usually this question is followed by questions such as:

    Do greens wear out over time?
    Why is it some greens last for over 50 years and other are rebuilt within 10 years?
    How long will it take?
    How much will it cost? (Which is often followed with a repeat of the first question – do they really need to be rebuilt?)

    At first, these questions would seem to be relatively easy to answer. But the person asking such questions will quickly find that they will receive many different answers to the same question- depending largely on the perspective of the person being asked.

    There are at least four distinct perspectives that come into play.

    Agronomic Characteristics
    The agronomic aspects of the existing and proposed greens involve the greatest amount of science and technical considerations. The following procedure is recommended to determine whether or not the greens should be rebuilt.

    Arrange for a Turfgrass Advisory Service visit from the Green Section agronomist in your area. The agronomic staff of the Green Section can provide an unbiased assessment of the ability of the greens to perform up to expectations. This assessment will based on formal agronomic training and invaluable experienced gained from visiting a wide variety of golf courses and green construction techniques.
    Please do not assume the Green Section agronomist will recommend the reconstruction of any green simply because that green is not currently built to the USGA Guidelines for Green Construction. (The USGA Green Section’s Guideline for the Construction of Greens can be found at USGA Guidelines.) The USGA agronomists fully realize that there are many greens that perform extremely well that are far from being Spec greens as they are often referred to in the industry. In fact, the agronomist will make every effort to determine whether or not the existing greens can be improved through modifications to the maintenance programs.

    Improve the growing conditions of the existing greens as much as possible. Often greens that are performing poorly can be greatly improved with practices including a more aggressive aerification program (including various types of aerification), adjustments to the fertility and/or fungicide programs, the provision of additional light and air movement to better support turfgrass growth, the raising of cutting heights to create a stronger plant, the acquisition of better quality water, or even something as simple as increasing traffic control efforts to distribute traffic over a larger portion of the green. The Green Section agronomist can be very helpful not only in helping the golf course superintendent identify such steps, but also in documenting the need for such work in a written report to the course leadership.

    Please note! Seldom do greens fail solely because they are poorly built. More often, there are many stresses on a green that cause it to fail. While reconstruction may well be justified, unless the other conditions that contributed to the turf’s failure are not corrected as well, the new green is unlikely to perform up to expectations. One good method of ensuring all aspects of the current growing conditions of the greens have been considered is to complete a USGA Report Card for each of the greens.
    Remove samples from the existing greens and submit them to an accredited, physical soils laboratory for analysis. Provide your Green Section agronomist with the results of the testing. The golf course superintendent and the agronomist can then evaluate the impact of the root zone on the overall performance of the green and determine if corrective maintenance practices are in order – or if complete reconstruction is necessary.
    Once you have completed the steps listed above, you will have a very good idea of the agronomic strengths and weaknesses of your greens. However, the most difficult part of the assessment process remains. That is, to determine at what level of maintenance the limitations in the greens will become apparent in terms of lost or damaged turf.

    For example, a golfing membership that expects near championship putting quality on a daily basis (an unrealistic goal in most parts of the country) will need greens that are much better constructed and subject to very few other stresses. Predictably, the low cutting heights necessary to produce very fast greens place a great deal of additional stress on the greens. Such greens are invariably be less able to tolerate heavy play, limited light, poor air movement, or extremes in temperatures. Those golfers desiring the ultimate in playing conditions will also need to provide the ultimate in growing conditions for the turf. The reverse is true as well. On those courses where the majority of the players can be kept happy (assuming golfers can ever be kept happy) with moderately paced greens and the greens “enjoy” otherwise good growing conditions, limitations in the construction of the greens will be far less influential on their overall performance.

    Another example how the construction of greens impacts courses differently can be found in areas of varying water quality. In many communities the quality of the water can vary widely from one part of town to another. While all greens should be irrigated with good quality water, those that receive water high in salts, sodium, and bicarbonates are under a great deal more stress. Such greens must have good internal drainage to allow leaching of these components out of the upper portion of the root zone and away from the plant.

    Often golfers have a hard time understanding the interrelationships between the various stress factors the greens must endure. There is a tendency to look for one thing that needs correcting in an effort to simplify the problem (the problem being poor turf performance). The reality is that all greens are exposed to a wide variety of stresses. Just a few examples include heavy play, low cutting heights, poor air movement, limited light, tree root competition, inadequate cupping area, limited entrance and exit points to and from the green, compaction of the root zone, poor quality water, and bentgrass grown too far south – and bermudagrass grown to far north. And of course – poorly constructed greens. Again, prior to making the decision to rebuild the greens, every superintendent and representatives of the course leadership are urged to complete the Report Card to get a better idea of the “big picture”.

    Architectural Characteristics
    Most often, greens are targeted for reconstruction because of their agronomic limitations. However, poor or inappropriate architecture is every bit as good a reason to rebuild as a root zone that does not drain.

    Architecture has a tremendous impact on the overall performance of a putting green. Consider a green design that includes severe contouring of the putting surface. Although the green may measure 6000 square feet in surface area, from an agronomic standpoint the area that is usable for hole locations is the more important measurement. Even though the green may be large, if the contours are so severe that they limit hole locations to just a few areas the concentrated player traffic will wear the turf thin.

    The design of the green obviously impacts it’s ability to withstand traffic. The architect that designs small, heavily contoured greens for a course that receives heavy play does a disservice to all concerned. However, this seldom happens. What does happen is that many times the amount of play a course receives today is much greater than what the course received during the first few years after construction. This is exactly what has happened on many older courses. Golf has never experienced the popularity it now enjoys. While this has been good for the game and those who enjoy it, many older courses still have greens that were designed for much less play. The same “push-up”, 50 years old greens that might withstand 15,000 round per year, may fail completely under 30,000 rounds.

    Changes in the way golfers want the greens to be maintained have also impacted the design of the greens and the ability of the turf to withstand traffic. Greens that only 20 years ago were mowed at 3/16 of an inch and perhaps measured 6 feet on the stimpmeter (a device used to measure the speed of greens) may today be mowed at 1/8th of an inch and measure 9 feet. The low cutting heights necessary to produce fast greens greatly reduce the ability of the turf to withstand traffic. The faster speeds likewise “amplify” the contouring of the greens. Hole locations that were considered reasonable at 7 feet on the stimpmeter are often out of the question at 9 feet. This effectively makes the usable area of the green much smaller.

    Obviously, the combination of lower cutting heights, faster putting surfaces, and more play will have a strong negative influence on the green’s architecture as well as it’s agronomic performance. As a result, the original architecture of a many courses is often inappropriate to today’s conditions.

    When the greens on a beautiful old course cannot withstand the amount of play they receive because they are just too small, a change in architecture is necessary. Often this is an extremely difficult decision for the golfers and leadership of the course. This is particularly true for courses with architecture of historical significance to the game of golf. No one wants to lose the artistic touch of Tillinghast, Mackenzie, Ross, McDonald, Maxwell, or many other great architects that have done so much for the game. For this reason, perhaps the greatest test of today’s architects is to be able to preserve the “flavor” and strategic value of a historical architectural style while at the same time incorporating design characteristics that will allow the green to better withstand today’s pressures.

    Needs of the Golfers
    As discussed above, many of today’s golfers expect greens for daily play that far exceed the quality that was expected for major championships just 20 years ago. Many golfers expect daily course conditions comparable to what they see on television on the weekend. Unfortunately, very few of these same golfers have any idea how much preparation goes into peaking a course for a championship. With very few exceptions, the course that is seen on television has undergone weeks and even months of extra preparation for the event. The main point of this discussion is that golfers should realize that rebuilding greens to USGA guidelines does not mean those greens will be able to support championship conditions on a daily basis.

    There is another major factor regarding the needs of the golfer’s that must be considered whenever the need for greens reconstruction is evaluated. Some golfer’s greatly desire smooth, firm, and very fast greens, and are willing to pay whatever it takes to obtain such greens. However, many other golfers find greens that are softer and slower more in keeping with their games. Predictably, these different needs can lead to sometimes bitter disagreements within a golfing membership. And often, the split is well defined by age. Many seniors simply do not strike the ball as hard as their younger counterparts. As a result, their shots are seldom as high nor does the ball have as much backspin. Firm, fast greens are therefore more difficult for most seniors and many women golfers.

    More importantly (from a construction standpoint), while the greens may need to be rebuilt in order to sustain the very low cutting heights necessary for very fast putting surfaces, their construction may be adequate for a less strenuous maintenance regime. In other words, a green that fails miserably when mowed at 1/8 of an inch for weeks at a time may perform quite well when maintained at 3/16 of an inch for the season. When faced with the cost of reconstruction and the fact that the greens may be closed for as much as 10 months for reconstruction and grow-in, many golfers will chose slower, softer greens mowed at the higher height. Please note – not all greens construction problems can be solved simply by raising cutting heights of the mowers. There are many greens that are so poorly built that regardless of the setting on the mower the greens will frequently fail.

    Needs of the Ownership or Leadership of the Course
    When the conflict arises between those golfers that want new greens and those that find the existing greens satisfactory, the leadership and/or ownership of the course is caught in the middle. Which group should be appeased? Much depends on the need to attract new golfers and/or members. Courses located near other good courses must remain competitive. They cannot afford to offer playing conditions (or club facilities of any type) that are significantly inferior to their competition. The leadership must also consider the need to constantly attract new players. Attrition is an undeniable and inevitable occurrence at almost every course or club.

    In at least one respect, it is a shame greens are not depreciated over time. A very general rule for the life expectancy of greens is that the construction should last at least 20 years. Over that 20 year period there are likely to be major changes in the golfer’s expectations for how the greens should be maintained. There could very well be major changes in the amount of play the courses receives. After 20 years the greens will probably not drain well internally. Without question there will continue to be major changes in the legal and environmental aspects of golf course maintenance. And, like almost everything else, there will be major improvements in grasses over any 20 year period. All of these factors will favor the periodic reconstruction of the greens. It is the responsibility of the course leadership to prepare for such work well ahead of time. Good preparation often makes the difference between a project that is accepted by the golfers and one that is not. Equally important, good preparation almost always makes the difference between a project that is successful and one that fails.

    As you can see, there is much more to determining whether or not the greens need to be rebuilt than simply sending a soil sample to the laboratory. Again, one of the best steps you can take early on in this entire evaluation process is to involve your local Green Section agronomist.

    July 20, 2019 0 Comments

    Lawn problems & watering at night.

    Watering your lawn at night offers the main benefit of reduced evaporation; you conserve water while maximizing your turf’s absorption ability without the sun’s constant heat. Watering at night, however, can encourage disease in a poorly managed lawn. Although healthy turf may not have obvious disease issues from nighttime watering, irrigation should occur during morning to avoid possible grass damage over time. Whether it is best to water lawn in morning or afternoon depends on the time of year.

    Ideal Timing for Watering the Lawn
    During spring and summer, lawns must endure afternoon heat stress because most grass species grow best in full-sunlight locations. Help your grass endure the long, afternoon sunlight by irrigating your lawn in early morning. Evaporation loss is minimal because wind and sunlight are limited at that time of day. Also, plants absorb water faster in morning than during afternoon.

    The absorbed water helps grass retain its green hue and upright posture throughout the day. Watering lawn in morning or afternoon is helpful during the colder months because if a particularly cold night is ahead, daytime watering allows time for the moisture to move into the soil to protect the grass from frost damage.

    Disease and Lawn Watering Schedule
    Many bacterial and fungal diseases rely on wet foliage for reproduction and to spread. If you water lawn at night in summer, the lack of evaporation provides time for the pathogens to infiltrate your grass. Morning watering allows time for evaporation and soil absorption, keeping foliage dry overnight.

    Overwatering any time of day, however, causes major lawn problems. For example, soggy soil reduces oxygen supplies and causes grass stress. As a result, pathogens, such as root rot, set in and damage the lawn until you correct the soggy conditions. In general, water infrequently to a 6-inch soil depth each time; watering a little bit each day only encourages shallow roots that succumb to drought stress and possibly disease.

    Water Lawn Morning or Night to Prevent Pests?
    Pests use nighttime to invade a lawn while unseen. As you water your lawn in morning, you have a chance to remove the pests, such as snails, to prevent widespread turf damage. As grass blades swell with moisture, they are more difficult for small pests to damage; wilting grass blades allow simple access to their internal areas upon which pests feed. Morning irrigation efforts keep grass strong for natural pest resistance, which means you don’t have to rely on spraying harmful pesticides across your yard.

    Watering for Effective Turf Management
    Compacted soil and a thick thatch layer of decaying stems and foliage hinder water absorption and may contribute to puddling on grass turf’s surface. Nighttime watering of a lawn with poor soil often suffocates grass roots and invites disease to the moist areas. Aerating soil by removing 1- to 2-inch long soil cores from the ground rejuvenates grass by providing better access to moisture and oxygen.

    Aerated soil reduces puddling and disease while moving precious water into lower areas of soil where roots can absorb the water. Aeration also reduces the thatch layer, allowing healthy water absorption during morning irrigation.

    Article shared from Homeguides.sfgate.com

    June 1, 2019 0 Comments

    Want a fantastic lawn, fast? Sod it! Here’s what you need to know to get the job done right.

    Slowing down and watching the grass grow sounds good. In theory. But the reality is that if your lawn needs renewing, you’ll be looking at a big patch of dirt for weeks. And why wait, when summer can begin right now — with a lush green carpet underfoot?

    When it comes to getting a thick, healthy lawn, nothing beats sod grass rolls for instant gratification. Sure, it costs a bit more: about $400 to cover a 1,000-square-foot backyard (double that installed). But if you follow our tips for laying sod, in a couple of weeks you’ll have a dense, well-established lawn that’s naturally resistant to weeds, diseases, and pest infestations.
    “You’re basically buying time,” says This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook. “You’re paying for turf that someone else has coddled for 14 to 18 months.”

    You’re also buying convenience. Sod can be installed spring through fall (and even in winter in mild climates). In areas of the country that favor cool-season grasses, like the Northeast, it avoids the problem of sprouting a nice crop of weeds when seeding a lawn in spring. And in southern states, which favor warm-season grasses like Bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, and centipedegrass, sod is the best way to cover the yard at any time of year, since these turf types cannot be grown from seed.

    “Sometimes sod gets a bad rap, but that’s usually because of mistakes people make while laying it,” says Roger. “Put down on properly prepared soil, it will thrive.” Turf likes a well-aerated base that’s slightly acidic (with a pH between 6 and 7.5) and nutrient-rich. And the only way to know what kind of soil you’ve got is to test it. For about $15, your local extension service will send a soil sample to a lab for analysis; results will come back within a week or two and indicate precisely what amendments you should add and in what quantity.

    Then it’s time to buy your sod. Depending on where you live, you can order it from a garden center or directly from a sod farm. It will generally be a mix of two or three turf grasses, chosen for optimal color, texture, and heartiness (be sure to tell your supplier if your yard’s in partial or full shade). Ideally, sod should be delivered within 24 hours of being cut and be laid the same day. Measure your yard carefully so you can order the right amount, with some overage (about 5 percent) to account for cutting around curves.

    Count on one weekend to prepare the soil for sod and another to lay the turf. If your yard is covered with patchy grass, you’ll need to remove it first. This is best done with a sod cutter (available from your local rental yard for about $70 per day), which slices it off below the roots. While you’re at it, you’ll want to rent a rototiller (about $55 per day). You’ll also need a sod-cutting knife with a 2-inch blade, a spreader, an iron rake, compost, and other soil amendments, including fertilizer and lime, depending on what your soil analysis dictates. Two people should be able to cover 1,000 square feet in a day; get extra hands if you plan to lay more than that.

    Article and excerpts were shared from THIS OLD HOUSE