September Maintenance

As a rule, September provides warmer temperatures in the south of the UK, with cooler and wetter conditions in the north. Generally, as the warm temperatures will allow for strong grass growth it is crucial to keep on top of this.

General Maintenance

Depending on the grass growth , frequency of mowing may vary as well as mowing heights varying depending on your type of course, local weather conditions, the course manager expectations, the sward and mower type.

The mowing heights below are a guide; however, remember not to remove more than 1/3 of total grass height in each cut.

Greens - about 3-6mm.

Tees - about 10-15mm.

Fairways - about 13-25mm.

Greens - the mowing frequency for greens should remain high, with mowers cutting heights set at summer heights. 

With the cutting blades being used more regularly, their sharpness is really important to reduce the likelihood of pressure from disease

Control of horizontal growth can be achieved by regular brushing and verti-cutting. The regular grooming and brushing of the greens to stand up horizontal grass growth, before mowing , should be undertaken to encourage a denser and more attractive sward.

Repositioning the hole can be done once or twice each week depending on your course traffic, wear or club competition schedules. 

The actual position of the hole should be decided on with what will give fair results. There should be enough putting green surface between the hole and the front and the sides of the green to accommodate the required shot and there should be a fair opportunity for a recovery shot for an approach shot that just misses the green.

Playing surfaces should be monitored closely for moisture and signs of nutrient stress.

Tees – you should not need to mow more than twice per week unless the grass growth is strong. The height of cutting will remain at around 12mm for most golf courses. 

Solid tining may be required (no more than 13mm width tines) to assist with removing water quickly.

Keep tees clean and free of divots and broken tees.

Fairways - Mowing is likely to be less frequent than in June and July and the height of cutting will remain the same, cutting at around 14mm and 17mm. 

Roughs - unless grass growth is continuing a pace, your mowing schedules will be less frequent. The main areas of rough should be rotary cut at around 50mm. Cutting of areas of intermediate rough should be weekly and just one or two 'bands' wide. The deeper rough cutting should continue to encourage growth of the finer and slower growing grasses.

Fertiliser  - some grass may show signs of stress and fertiliser treatment and turf tonic should continue along with your annual programme. 

The choice of materials and how well they work can be dependent on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and air temperatures being the catalyst for growth.

Bunker - during September bunker maintenance consists of regular raking either by hand or via machine, edging and trimming around the edges and stone and weed removal. Check s sand depth and distribution. 

Renovations

The main objectives of end of season renovations are:

* To repair worn out areas around the course

* To prevent the build-up of thatch layers by scarification

* To restore surface levels with topdressing

* To alleviate compaction with aeration

* To re-establish sward densities with over seeding

* To apply pre seeding/autumn fertilisers to help promote sward development

As weather conditions will be play an important part in these renovations, the planning and timing of the various jobs to done is paramount. 

Remember - how successful these renovations will be is dependent on various factors:  the timing, weather conditions, type machinery used (aerators, scarifiers, over seeders and top dressers), the choice of materials and budgets will all play their part.

Timing - mid September through to mid October is the best time for these renovations. With good moisture, warm soil and air temperatures, seed germination has perfect conditions and scarifiers and aerators can penetrate the surfaces with ease.

Weather – for applying and spreading topdressing materials, conditions need to be dry and granular fertiliser products need moisture so that they become activated and soluble.

Machinery – choosing the right machinery – make sure that your scarifiers and aerators are able to do the job - the blades and tines are sharp, clean and the correct length. 

Materials - use compatible topdressing materials. Seed should come from approved suppliers and be certified. 

Schedule of operations - greens

  • Start by mowing the greens and tees to clean up all the surface debris 
  • Scarify to remove unwanted thatch, then collect and dispose of any debris. Depending on the thickness of the thatch, you may require to scarify several times in different directions. The depth of scarification should be between 4-15mm depending on depth of thatch to be removed. Use a mower to clean up the green after scarifying has been completed.
  • Aeration relieves compaction in the soil and also encourages root development of the grass. (Hollow tines are generally used when you have a severe thatch problem. The depth of aeration for hollow tining is generally to a depth of between 75-100mm and for solid or slit tining, between 100-300mm.
  • Top dressing restores levels of the surface and improves the drainage. It is best carried out in dry weather and it is important to ensure that the topdressings are spread uniformly, brushing in with a lute or drag brush/mat.
  • Overseeding - ensure that a good groove or hole is made to receive the seed, good seed soil contact is essential for seed germination. Good moisture and soil temperatures will see the seed germinate between 7-14 days.
  • Fertilising provides nutrients for grass growth. Apply a low N nitrogen fertiliser product, something like an Autumn Fertiliser NPK 5:5:15 to help the sward through the autumn period.
  • Watering/Irrigation – make sure you keep the sward watered after renovations to ensure your seed germinates.

Agronomy

Aeration 

Over seeding - this is the best time of the year to undertake this operation as it is the natural time of the year that the grass plant would be dropping its seed with plenty of available warmth and moisture leading to good germination and successful establishment. Good soil contact and appropriate planting depth are also key to success with seeding although one should be careful to avoid rolling seed into the surface too aggressively, much better to allow natures rainfall to gently caress and firm the soil around the seed. Where machinery and equipment is available to the end user, disc seeding is a very reliable method of increasing germination  rates, as the precise planting depth can be more accurately controlled into the slots which then close up nicely behind to provide firm soil contact.

Agronomically - all turf managers should be on the lookout for disease pressure, the key times for infection being when warmth and moisture coincide, so periods of warm humid nights and damp days are periods everyone should pay attention to. Reducing the period of continual leaf blade wetness to below ten hours through gentle brushing and switching are a key method of cultural 

September provides a really good opportunity for weed control as well due to plenty of available moisture and warmth leading to good growth. 

Fertiliser - Selecting one with a lower nitrogen and higher potassium content is best. 

Weeds, pests and disease

Weed growth will start slowing down during the latter part of September. Depending on soil and air temperatures, this month may be the last opportunity to apply some selective weed control products.

These are more effective when the plant is actively promoting growth. Always follow manufacturers' guidelines.

Any mole or rabbit damage can be renovated or repaired at this time.

A number of turf grass diseases such a red thread may be occur at this time. Grass plants are under stress, favourable temperatures for incubation, overcast and moisture in the ground enables the disease to spread quickly. The disease has come in because the grass plant is under stress, quite often due to the fact that it may be under-nourished. In most cases, red thread can be controlled with an application of fertiliser. If the outbreak is severe, then treatment is likely to be necessary. A curative or eradicant fungicide, preferably with a systemic action, is best. 

Machinery and Materials

At this time of year all your machinery is working to capacity and t is vitally important that it is maintained, carrying out regular servicing and repairs.

It is equally important to ensure that your staff are trained correctly to use the specific machinery/equipment required for each operation.

Maintaining a stock of consumables for your machinery is also advisable. In addition, replace worn and damaged parts when necessary. 

For insurance purposes, provide adequate and secure storage space for your machinery, securing machinery with good locks and photograph all of your equipment with their serial numbers.

 
 
Dennis Mowers