The Star: Maintenance of landscaped areas.
Posted by mynormas on December 1, 2011
Part of my comments was published in the Star newspaper 30 Nov 2011. What was missing was the ‘how-to’ tips to do it. Maintaining turfgrass areas is a challenge at any time but to do it in the current weather condition is especially tough. With the rain washing away whatever was applied, the lack of sunlight affecting growth and the amount of water overwhelming the drainage system; it is hard to make the place look good while at the same time not waste resources or pollute the environment.
Here are some tips that are relevant to golf courses, football fields, other sports fields, public parks and yes, even lawns.
- Fertilizing in this weather will just enrich the drainage/river/pond waters surrounding the area (it will enrich the fertilizer companies too). Stop using fertilizer granules especially if it has no slow-release or controlled-release component; actually that is sound advice at any time in our climate. Instead; use foliar fertilizer that will be absorbed faster by the grass. We may have to apply at low dosages but at closer intervals to provide enough nutrients required by the grass.
- Hold the insecticides. ALL insecticides. If there is an urgent need to apply them, be mindful of the weather pattern. If it rains in the evening, spray early in the morning. Use systemic insecticide that will absorbed by the grass or find one that has low toxicity, half-life and/or is non-persistent.
- Hold the fungicides. When first faced with what seems like a disease problem, deal with it without using chemicals first; raise the cutting height, reduce traffic, prune trees surrounding the area to increase sunlight and air circulation. If you still have to do it, see advice for insecticides as above.
- (Not) making the cut. Send out the mowers only if the ground is hard enough to hold the machine. Compaction happens when a heavy enough object presses down on soft ground and its water that makes the ground softer. If/when you can mow; use lighter/back pack/push mowers to do so. And also, forget the beautiful stripes or lines on the golf course fairways or football fields; continuously mowing in the same paths will create ruts, especially in this weather.
- Consider using a plant growth regulator to slow down plant growth.
- Spike, slice, solid tine or do whatever you can to puncture the surface to help water to flow down with whatever you have (old fork, 10-inch nails etc). You don’t have to go deep, as long as you can go below the thatch layer which should be about half an inch.
- Apply soil wetting agent regularly, though preferably should do before the field is saturated with water.
If the field was flooded, the most important thing to do is to remove the layer of silt that would be clogging the surface. Use clean water to wash it off if your area is small or whatever other means you can think off; light dethatching or worse come to worse, schedule hollow-tining in February. Do not topdress on top of the silt. You’ll be creating a layering problem.
As always, read labels, use trained staff and common sense to apply any sort of chemicals. That includes fertilizers too. And if in doubt, refer to the turfgrass expert.