Greens aerating

We are doing our spring aerification today. We schedule all cultural practices around the golf schedule and weather. Traditionally we do it after the PA tourney as it gives us a couple weeks to recover before the next charity tourney and almost a month before Memorial Day. This year our next big event is Mem. Day, so we have plenty of time to recover. We made a change to our tine selection this year. Aerification is the process of poking things into the ground. Usually a tine of sorts. They come in various shapes sizes and forms. Traditionally tines are either hollow or solid. Hollow tines will pull a core of soil out and this would be referred to as "core aeration". Solid tines will just poke a hole in the ground. Other forms or shapes are cross tines, bayonets etc. All tines will vent bad gasses from the soil and allow oxygen into the soil. This is referred to as "gas exchange". Spiking will also do this and is often called venting. Spikes come in many sizes and shapes as well. They generally leave a narrow slit as opposed to a hole. The decisions on which tine to use could fill many blog pages and is as varied as opinions allow. The bumper sticker version is pulling a core adds the issue of dealing with it. It is very time consuming and labor intensive to deal with them. Also in the soil core is a plethora of annual bluegrass seed. Annual Bluegrass, Poa annua or "poa" for short is technically considered a weed in fine turf. It requires more inputs to remain healthy such as water, fertilizer. It is considered to be a weaker plant than Creeping Bentgrass, Agrostis palustris which the greens were originally seeded to in 1936. And by being weaker that is to say more susceptible to insect and disease damage. It is is however more adaptable to shade and compacted areas. It has a more shallow root system than bentgrass and this leads to the above claims of inferiority. If managed properly poa will give an excellent surface which leads to the ongoing debate. I have always managed for poa since some of our greens are 95% or more of this species. In recent years I have thought about trying to manage more for bentgrass and slowly convert. This is no magic wand solution. It requires changing many things such as the way in which we water, fertilize, cultivate the greens and maintain the areas around the greens (specifically shade and trees). Bentgrass hates the shade. So here is an exercise for you readers: look at the picture below and the descriptions I will give of the differences between poa and bent and then look for the greens with the most of each and then check for the amount of shade. I'll give the list on a future post.

darker patches are bentgrass. it grows laterally laying over or looking "bent". pale very tight growing grass is poa
Here is a picture of the tines we have used in the past: hollow core (with an open section for side eject of the core), hollow core (which ejects from the top and is prone to clogging), very small solid tine, cross tine and today's new attempt the bayonet tine.

Aerifying tines
Below is a movie of Kevin aerifying a green and then Will topdressing a green. I took a movie of me brushing and also blowing the sand but they are MIA.

The first couple greens aerated over the sand made a bit of a mess because the sand and grass were still damp. But they cleaned up well and the rest were fine so overall the process was a success.

3rd green before blowing

3rd green after blowing
The entire process by the numbers:
blow sand with buffalo blower in a circle into the green then from middle out
add more sand if necessary
brush with golf cart and tow behind aluminum framed brush and cinder block
apply sillical
apply 5-4-5
water with radios then set clocks to water a couple more times tonight
If we pulled cores you could add at least three more steps of heavy duty hand labor
We managed to get all greens done with a calcium silicate (Sillical) and organic fertilizer (Earthworks 5-4-5) applied and watered in by 4:30 with only three guys. Not bad at all and without having to deal with all the manual labor of cores we are not as spent as we usually are after aerifying.
We will change the cups first thing in the morning and possibly roll the greens some time tomorrow as well as brush or blow the heavier areas of sand when they are dry. this will continue throughout the week if the weather permits. Most were very clean to start with so I think they will be fine. First mow maybe Friday afternoon.

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