The month of September is in my opinion the best of the year. The turf starts to recover and plants start to build up carbohydrates for winter survival. I start to think about this process and what I can do to help the turf. There are many things we that we have in our "tool box" to promote recovery and hopefully winter survival. You can't beat Mother Nature but just sitting back can only multiply problems.
Core aeration: is and can be a very important aspect of building strong turf and removing excess organic matter in the soil profile. At Hawks the greens will not be core aerated because there is not an excess of organic matter, but the tees and approaches do. We have already core aerated the tees as well as the approaches and if time allows we might redo them again.
Solid tine aeration: Defiantly the back bone of our greens program at Hawks. I firmly believe in this practice. Solid tining helps the soil facilitate proper air and water movement through the soil profile. The greens will be solid tined at least 2 more times this year. My goal is to have as many holes in the greens to help remove some standing water during the midwinter thaws so that we will not have a situation were the crown of the plant freezes during this time.
Topdressing: Topdressing is a practice where sand is applied to the turf. The sand is then brushed into the canopy to help dilute the organic matter. The sand also firms and smooths the surface. The the fall the sand will also help protect the crown of the plant from freezing.
Late Fall and dormant Fertilizer application: I think we all know the benefit of this from previous posts but i will try to tell you the difference in the two. Fall fertilization should be done around labor day or before we start getting frosts. This will help the turf build up carbohydrates reserves and strengthen the plant for the winter. Dormant fertilization is a practice that is done when the turf stops growing and the ground temperature is around 50 degrees. This is usually around the first or second week in November. A fast release source of mainly Nitrogen should be applied. This will be available to the roots of the turf. The only problem with this is if we see a warm up in this time and the turf starts to grow. You can actually encourage snow mold if this were to happen. Timing is the key here and if everything works right it is very helpfully to the turf.
Watering: Keeping the turf from getting to dry is very important if it remains dry before the snow.
General cleanup and mowing: You should try to mow your turf a little shorter this time of the year. This will help keep the surface free from excess moisture.