Aeration. It’s a taboo word amongst superintendents and golfers alike. Is it ever really a good time to aerate your golfing greens? Not really, but it needs to be done nonetheless! While it may impede putting for a few days, and sometimes surfaces can remain uneven for weeks, aeration is critical to the long-term health of the fields. Here are a few quick tips for getting the most out of your aeration process. And a couple more to ensure your golf green is back in shape for play as quickly as possible afterwards.
Aerate when the grass is growing most efficiently
This allows turf to recover quickly in order to maintain playable golf greens. Most superintendents aerate during the shoulder seasons as the weather is milder. Keep a close eye on weather apps, however, as you want to ensure you find the exact sweet spot where aeration will be effective in rejuvenating your turf. If you aerate while the soil is damp, you risk tearing rather than punching holes in the turf. If you aerate when it’s too dry, the tines may just bounce off the soil It’s a balancing act, to be sure, but one that can be achieved if you plan ahead and cross your fingers that the weatherman is right this time!
Fertilise before you aerate
This will encourage your turf to grow back quickly after aeration, filling in the uneven holes. Applying a nitrogen fertiliser a week before you aerate will allow it to kick in and promote quicker regrowth. You want your golf green to be back to normal ASAP!
Topdress with sand
Topdressing with sand is usually carried out throughout the year, but can also be very helpful for repairing the golf green after coring the turf. Many golf superintendents apply sand into the cored holes in the soil during the aeration process. Applying sand to the upper half of the soil will assist in diluting organic matter and encourage healthy growth. It also improves the evenness of the playing surface for golfers immediately after aeration.
Don’t mow immediately after aeration
Let the turf heal before going at it with your mower! You want to encourage it to grow back over the holes healthily, which will be difficult if you’re cutting down the blades. Furthermore, if you use a topdressing sand, it can damage your mower.
Choose good quality equipment
Aeration is one of those jobs that you want to get right the first time because if you don’t, your green can suffer dire consequences. Needless to say, you don’t want your usual punters looking elsewhere for their regular game because the green is uneven for too long. Aeration may only occur twice a year, but it’s absolutely essential to the health of the turf, so ensuring that you do a good job of it is at the forefront of every superintendent’s mind. And while your knowledge and expertise is indeed a part of this equation, having the right equipment can also make a massive difference.
Choosing an aerator with an adjustable working depth is always a good idea so that you can change the depth to suit the condition of your soil. An aerator that can be attached to the back of your tractor will also assist you to carry out work with improved efficiency.
If you’re dubious about spending a lot of money on an aerator that’s only kicked into action twice a year, consider buying a versatile machine like the Wiedenmann Terra Combi. It can carry out aerating, slitting and overseeding with adjustable parts. You get more bang for your buck, but still enjoy a high-quality aerator that won’t let you down!