Casual play and competition play will be at their height this month, with the bowling green taking a fair amount of wear and tear especially on rink ends.
Irrigation will be a key component in ensuring good playing surfaces are maintained, but be careful not to apply too much otherwise the playing surfaces will still be wet for the morning start of play.
Continue to mow at 5 mm and include a double cut for those important matches and remember, when conditions allow aerate and irrigate first. Good green speeds can be achieved by consistent mowing at 5 mm, if you do opt for a lower height of cut then care needs to be taken because this can cause stress to the grass particularly in hot and dry conditions – a 1 mm reduction in the height of cut is a 20% reduction in leaf height.
- Rotate rinks and sides regularly to accommodate high levels of use, ensuring wear is spread as evenly as possible over the green.
An application of fertiliser will invariably take place this month. Typically this will be an 8:0:0 (inorganic nitrogen) product applied at 34g/m2. P and K will depend on soil analysis and sward assessment results. Plan so that work does not interfere with play. Consider an evening application with a good watering in; then it has all night to wash into the surface – and don’t forget to aerate beforehand.
Ensure you have all your materials in stock, or ordered, for the end of the season renovation in early September, or whenever the last match is played.
Wickets will be coming out of use during August, so aeration and scarification can be carried out on these to give you a head start on the major renovation work later on. In most cases irrigation will be required to allow aeration and scarification to be effective.
The ends can be lightly forked over to a depth of 50 mm or so to produce a fine seed bed and a suitable grass seed applied. Typically this will be dominated by perennial ryegrass.
The body of the renovated wicket can be scarified, aerated and spiked with a sarel spiked roller then oversown with a suitable grass seed mixture. The mixture content will depend on the level and standard of cricket being played.
- At this time of year, perennial ryegrass should easily germinate within seven days, assuming adequate irrigation.
- Apply a suitable fertiliser to those wickets which have been taken out of use, to aid seed germination and sward establishment.
Throughout this month continue to mow as required, removing the clippings. If the outfield surface is dry or there is a prolonged dry spell, lift the height of cut slightly to reduce sward stress. The standard height of cut will be 12-18 mm.
- Ensure the outfield is checked regulary for worn areas and, if required, carry out localised repairs to these.
- Broadleaved weeds should not be a problem if they were controlled using a proprietary selective herbicide in May-June.
- Matches have already started in Scotland; the English leagues will start in the middle of the month.
- Pitches should be in tip-top condition. If not, then urgent work is required.
- Keep moisture levels up to encourage good growth.
- Feed the pitch with a liquid nitrogen fertiliser to help improve sward density. If broad-leaved weeds are a problem, consider another selective herbicide, but be careful that the correct ground and climatic conditions are present.
- Thin areas may also benefit from a light seeding and top-dressing, though care will need to be taken if a herbicide application is being considered.
If bare areas exist, the only real solution at such short notice before the starting game will be to deep turf. This is expensive but it is a last resort, and should be carried out by an experienced grounds maintenance contractor or suitable experienced member of the groundstaff.
- Keep up aeration to encourage moisture penetration into the soil profile: this will also reduce the chance of surface rooting.
- August is also a good time to apply a fertiliser. An 11:6:9 or a similar type at 34-50 g/m2 could be considered. For local authority pitches, a 20:10:10 or similar fertiliser is just as effective and will be cheaper, too.
- Make sure the pitch is properly squared up and marked out for the first game. Also spend a little extra time ensuring the pitch is cut that little bit extra carefully. This will make a good initial impression on both players and spectators.
- Ensure uprights and crossbars are painted and looking smart; check that the post sockets are in a good condition; replace if necessary.
- Aeration can be considered where the soil profile is moist enough to allow adequate tine penetration.
- Square up the pitch, set out and mark out in anticipation of some pre-season friendlies or warm up games.
- Mowing frequency may increase during this month as additional attention might be given to pitch presentation.
- A fertiliser might be applied towards the end of the month, but be careful not to apply nitrogen at too high a rate otherwise soft and easily worn growth will be produced.
Now is typically the time that a fertiliser with a lower percentage of nitrogen is applied, especially on more lightly used courts.
- Continue with routine maintenance, which will include mowing, grooming, brushing, irrigation and overmarking.
- Where there are multiple tennis courts on site, try and take some out of use and renovate them prior to September.
- Routine maintenance work over the summer months will include the following:
- Artificial/specific use of irrigation will be more frequent to produce a suitable firmness of ground for a race meeting.
- Continue to divot and repair after each meeting.
- Continue to mow regularly, with this forming a significant part of total work input.
- Do not neglect mowing on courses that are rested over the summer.
- A fertiliser application in late August might also be given to all, or part of, the course dependent on need and following a nutrient analysis.
- A fertiliser application on the greens will most likely be given during this month. typically one would be an 8:0:0 @ 34 g/m2 Nitrogen only.
While renovation will mostly be undertaken in September, a gradual process of renovation can start now. The extent of the work will depend on important competitions/matches, but operations such as micro-solid-tining, with 6 mm diameter tines, should be considered. This results in a minimally affected playing surface for only a short period of time.
- If some form of renovation work is not to be done on the greens, then tees or fairways should be targeted.
- Make use of this month to do some renovation because after September the soil and air temperatures drop rapidly.
- All the materials that are required for the renovation programme should be in stock or at least planned for delivery.
- Regular mowing of tees, greens and fairways as well as irrigation will be the major tasks for this month.
- Bunker raking on a regular basis, if not daily, will also help to put the finishing touches to a well-presented course.