Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Increasing Need for Organic Matter: Soil water conservation

Mature trees with a large area of pine bark mulch surrounding them. Photo courtesy Gro-Bark

By Chelsea Stroud, B.Sc. Agr. (Hort.), GRP

A combination of organic materials benefits any type of soil. Increasing certain kinds of organic material in soil will help retain moisture and ensure adequate drainage. For annual/perennial-type garden beds, a blend of composted pine bark, compost, and humus peat at a ratio of 80:20 organic to mineral soil is excellent.

For locations where trees will be used, incorporating more mineral soil provides additional structural support. Using 30 to 50 per cent mineral soil with a blend of 50 to 70 per cent coarse and fine organic materials provides the structure required for trees and excellent moisture retention. Turf areas should not be ignored; you should use fine blends of compost and CPM, and incorporate them before seeding or through a topdressing program at a rate of 6 to 12 mm per season.

Mulching around established trees helps conserve water. Often, plants do not survive under large-canopy trees, resulting in thin turf and exposed soil. Using a layer of mulch helps prolong the tree’s life.

Read the full article: The Increasing Need for Organic Matter

Preventing Poa annua Invasion: To convert or not to convert

Poa annua seeding on a putting green. Photo courtesy Katerina Jordan

By Katerina S. Jordan, PhD

Many superintendents end up trying to convert to CBG through renovating their greens, sometimes just to find five to 10 years later they end up with Poa annua in the stand, and even dominating over time. If you are considering a conversion, it is important to look at why Poa annua got there in the first place. Look at your surrounding environment—do you have excess shade or is there poor drainage? Also, look at your use patterns—do you have excessive traffic and use of the greens, leading to highly compacted soils? Are you restricted in your ability to de-thatch and core aerate, creating a stressful environment for the CBG? All these factors can affect the potential success of a CBG green, and if you find factors beyond your control are leading to the Poa annua being favoured, it might be time to give up the fight and manage what grows best on your site. Although Poa annua is annoying because of its drought-intolerance, reduced winter hardiness, susceptibility to more insects and diseases, and its seedhead formation, it is actually quite a nice putting surface when properly maintained.

Trying to manage a putting green for today’s golfers is a difficult and frustrating task. Adding the invasion of a weed like Poa annua to that makes the job a bit more difficult. However, if you are diligent in carefully managing to favour your bentgrass, you will have a better chance of keeping your greens healthy, highly playable, and composed of the species they were meant to have.

Read the full article: Preventing Poa annua Invasion: When to fight and when to give in

A Turfgrass Legacy: A slice of advice

By Molly Doyle

Bill Fach’s advice for budding superintendents is to look and act like a professional. They should attend meetings in business attire, whether they are at the golf course or a conference.

“I think that is one thing most young people do not understand,” says Fach. “You need to look the part. When you dress like a professional, people will see you as such.”

“Another piece of advice I would offer budding superintendents is to keep abreast of what is going on in the industry,” he continues. “That means be prepared and open to educational opportunities as they present themselves. Do not just say, ‘I am a superintendent now, I do not have to attend seminars.’ You do.”

Read the full article: A Turfgrass Legacy: Bill Fach’s driving ambition

Saving the Butternut Tree: How to help

By Barb Boysen

The overall goal is to engage as many people as possible in species conservation and recovery. You do not have to be an expert to have an effect. As a forest owner, you can better manage and conserve your trees. As a consumer, you can ask the import companies you buy goods from about how they are respecting regulations to prevent exotic species introductions. As an urbanite, you can support your city’s efforts to conserve existing trees and plant native species on streets and in parks.

Everyone could consider donating to forest restoration and species recovery programs. Every little bit helps. We all have a role to play in keeping our trees alive for the benefits they provide us.

Read the full article: Saving the Butternut Tree

Restoring a Stanley Thompson Classic: The plan

Every bunker was rebuilt with only the assistance of a backhoe. There was no topsoil or sod available, and the crew had to re-use everything it found onsite. Photo courtesy Highlands Links

By Ian Andrew

The work on Highlands Links Golf Course started with massive tree removal done by accessing an emergency fund in Parks Canada. This gave us the money to keep the staff on another six weeks. The first winter, 1.6 ha (4 acre) were taken out, and three more followed over the next few years in an effort to restore ocean and mountain views, and expose all the greens to morning and afternoon sunlight.

The second stage was brought on by a horrendous storm in late fall 2010 that left the 11th hole under 0.6 m (2 ft) of sand, gravel, and river stone. The larger material was removed by machine, but the last inch had to be taken out by rake and shovel (and almost exclusively by five ladies). Since the bunkers were also badly damaged, this began an in-house bunker rebuilding program at the same time.

The park insisted its staff undertake the project internally, which was fine other than nobody on staff had any bunker construction experience. We also did not have the appropriate equipment, so I found myself in the role of teacher, supervisor, and labourer. The bunker crew turned out to be excellent, and the five of us managed to rebuild every bunker with only the assistance of a backhoe. We had no topsoil or sod available, and had to re-use everything we found onsite. The work was at times painstaking, but at least I had muscles for the first time in 25 years!

Read the full article: Restoring a Stanley Thompson Classic