February Maintenance

General Maintenance

February will usually see the following activities being scheduled and carried out:

  • Dragbrushing to remove dew
  • Cleaning out of ditches and repairing of surrounds
  • Tip the grass with the mower if it grows above 12mm (1/2 inch)
  • Aerate - if and when possible, when conditions allow

Mow the sward and prepare surfaces for renovation. The growth of grass is influenced by soil and air temperatures and once temperature starts to rise above 8 degrees, growth will be stimulated and you will need to mow to keep the sward between 8-12mm.

As temperatures rise towards the end of the month and the start of March, grass should be ready to take fertiliser. The grass plant's transpiration/respiration rates must be active so that movement of soluble solutions from the soil into and through the plant's tissue can be started.

Have a soil analysis undertaken to ensure you are applying the correct amount and balance of fertilisers as this will give you a full nutrient analysis of your soil's requirements. This will then help you get the right fertiliser programme sorted.

Agronomy

Extreme waterlogging is causing problems for all of us. If your renovation went well late last year, the mild temperatures will have helped and the grass will have grown well. The annual meadow-grass will be growing at a slower pace and there is a large difference between how perennial species such as Bent and Fescue grow compared to this.

High levels of moss are present thanks to the moist surface and low light levels and with little opportunity to get onto the green, your options are limited. If you aerate before the ground is ready would see you smearing the sides of the hole and lateral compaction means water cannot get away from the hole.

Toadrush can be problematic as can increased thatch levels and black layer as anaerobic conditions continue to prevail.

What you need to do is aerate as much as you can as soon as conditions are suitable BUT NOT BEFORE. In the meantime, be on the look out for Microdochium Patch and treat as soon as you see any symptoms. When conditions get better, add some good quality fertiliser to help turf recover.

Over a longer term, use biostimulants like SeaAction liquid Seaweed and BioMass Sugar to help soil food web recover.

Particle size distribution (PSD): Now is a good time to take soil samples and get them sent off for analysis, which means they should be back with you in time for your new year's maintenance.

If you've not had one done before, go for a full Particle Size Distribution soil analysis which will tell you the actual make up of your soil profile.

Soil is made up of different amounts of clay, silt and sand and the PSD analysis will identify the ratio of these and confirm the soil type, enabling you to better understand what soil you are dealing with.

Soil pH: You can also establish the amount of organic matter (OM) content as well as soil nutrient status and soil pH - this information is invaluable when you consider what your soil really needs.

These tests will also give you valuable information such as root depth, compaction levels and the aerobic state of the soil.

One option is to apply wetting agents - these reduce the surface tension of a liquid to help liquid spread and penetrate the soil profile more easily - which can improve and enhance soil performance. Apply on a monthly basis if you decide to do this.

N:P:K: It is essential to keep a balance of N P K nutrients in order to provide the conditions for healthy plant growth.

Weeds, Pests & Diseases

Brush and switch the playing surface to keep the green clean and remove any dew or surface water while keeping the surface dry will aid resistance to disease.

The typical diseases you may come across include Fusarium Patch, Red Thread, Fairy Rings, and Anthracnose.

Fungicides are the way to control further outbreaks, but use the appropriate amount and remember as grass is starting to grow soon, it won't take long for these scars to disappear.

Machinery & Materials

Maintain your machines by carrying out regular servicing and repairs. Check the condition of your machinery and get it repaired or serviced during the winter.

In addition, service and sharpen mower blades ready for the new season, keep machines overhauled and clean and impact and repair any watering or irrigation systems - organise an inspection, re-commissioning and calibration of the system before the end of February.

 
 
Dennis Mowers