Monday, November 30, 2009

Guide for selecting and planting trees from USGA

Last week, I posted information regarding our Tree Management Program (TMP) at Glen Echo CC. I just received in the mail the bi-monthly USGA Green Section Record which has a nice article regarding the selection and placement of trees on a golf course. The link for the article follows:

National golf industry magazine takes notice of blog

Our golf course maintenance blog has recently received notice in a national golf industry publication. Check out the story in the link below.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tree Maintenance Program

Recently the Greens Committee asked me to review the Club’s Tree Maintenance Program. Just as a “refresher”, a TMP is designed to promote tree health and vigor, and ensure that their value will continue to grow. An effective maintenance program includes regular inspections and necessary follow-up care of mulching, fertilizing, and pruning and detecting problems and correcting them before they become damaging or fatal.

An essential part of a TMP is to identify trees that have insect and disease problems and develop a treatment plan. Further, a TMP identifies tree hazards where there is a risk of damage to persons or property. A treatment plan might include pruning, cabling and bracing, routine care and sometimes even removal.

During the early fall before the leaves changed color, I began to evaluate our TMP at Glen Echo. At the last Greens Committee Meeting, I made a power point presentation where I identified trees that were dead, diseased and dying, or were so structurally weak that they presented a risk hazard to our members, guests or our property. The Green Committee has authorized the removal of the dead and diseased trees. A majority of this work will be completed by our staff as course conditions allow us remove the tree. There are some trees that are located near roadways and power lines which might require outside contractors. We will grind all smaller limbs on property and utilize the mulch in our ornamental bed program. Larger logs will be placed in our holding area. Species that will burn in fireplaces will be saved for future use. Other species will be stored in the back of the driving range area. Some logs will be removed from property and hauled away. The tree pictured above is probably the largest tree on property that we intend to remove this year. It is located on the left of the cart path on hole #7 in the area between 5 tee and the main road. Please be assured that our Greens Committee is committed to the development of a tree replacement program. Of course, a new tree shouldn’t be planted just to infill a spot where a tree has been lost. It will take good planning to ensure that we choose the right species of tree, its placement doesn’t affect the beautiful vistas on our course and it will reach maturity without affecting adjacent trees. The choices we make today should be enjoyed for years to come at Glen Echo.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Update on Collar Nursery

Well, the cool wet weather of October did not help the seeding of our collar nursery. Rains washing away part of our seed and caused rutting in different areas of the seedbed. We've kept the green covered and have had some additional germination and growth. The nursery is sloped from from right to left as you can see which creates some moisture issues. Wet to the bottom and dry towards the top which has affected the germination of the higher end.
We continue to fertilize and push the growth to this nursery. Normally, we would have rolled and mowed a few times by now but with the slow growth we have experienced, we hope to roll the nursery in the next couple of weeks which will help to press the plants into the surface and will begin to smooth the surface. Some light topdressing will also help in this process as well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Late fall rough fertilization

Its getting late in the season but still plenty of time for some fall fertilization. We are slightly later in our application this season than I would like but the rains over the last few weeks has forced us to change our plans somewhat. Its also difficult to place fertilizer on the ground when you are blowing leaves which could move the fertilizer away from the intended areas where it should stay. I would like to put some fertilizer down in September but I do not want to encourage and strengthen our bermuda grass that is in our rough. As you are aware, we are treating our bermuda in our close rough with our herbicide treatment. As we are able to remove the bermuda from some rough areas, we will then begin to fertilize a partial amount in late summer/early fall and then the rest in late fall. The early fall application does assist the cool season turf from summer damage. Its not the optimum time to apply but it does give the damaged areas a chance to recover before winter.

We put down about 75% of our rough turf requirements in the fall in which part of the material is quick release. The quick release portion is of the fertilizer will be used to provide just a very slight growth in the leaves of the plants but will mostly be used by the plant in storage and root growth before winter arrives. The remaining material is slow release which will be available to the turf next spring as it comes out of winter dormancy and begins to grow. The stored materials as well as the slow release material will provide energy throughout the spring. At the beginning of summer in June,
we will then apply a smaller amount of fertilizer for the summer months to help the turf to fight off and suppress disease and to strengthen the plants for the stress of summer.

Below you can see assistant Mike applying our fertilizer in our main rough with our Lely spreader. Some areas around greens, tees, and narrow fairway areas require walk spreading which we have completed over the last week or two.

Link to a nice article on late season fall fertilization from now retired Dr. Paul Rieke from Michigan State University.

Tulip Time

The guys are installing some tulips in the main entrance to the clubhouse and in the pro shop area. Pictures below include Asst. Skip and Russell using drill augers and Nick is placing the bulbs in the ground and covering them up. I will leave the colors a secret until they pop out next spring.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The making of leaf compost

With the large amount of leaves we have at the facility, it would only be logical for us to make something of value out of a couple of these piles of leaves. We had an opening in our storage bin area and decided to make some leaf compost for our ornamental beds.

The picture below is a pile of leaves that were dumped by our vacuum sweeper. In total, we placed about 3-4 piles of leaves in the bin.
The picture below shows the soil which is placed on the leaf material to help in breaking down the leaves to the final compost product. We also placed some of our flower bed material to add to the pile as well. Most composting is done without soil but I felt the soil would help to improve the nutrient holding capability of the compost once it is broken down.
Below is bag of fertilizer that we added to the compost to help heat up the material and break it down further. This is a greens grade style fertilizer that we would not normally use in this type of application but it was damaged in a flood that hit the facility during the summer.
Here is another view of the pile with sweet potato vine laying over the top of the leaves.
An interesting link to some frequently asked questions mowing of lawns, composting and mulch from Extension specialist Chris Starbuck from the University of Missouri.
We will pile up some leaves in our dump area which could utilized in the future as well.

More leaf work

Sometimes the large area blowers cannot get into the tight areas where leaves accumulate. The pictures below show the staff blowing the leaves away from wall along Lucas & Hunt road. Once the leaves are blown away from the wall, the tractor vacuum comes along and scoops them up.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Leaves, leaves and more leaves

During the fall, we attempt to do leaf removal work on a regular basis. The last two weeks of October which included well over 8-10" of rain prevented us from doing any leaf removal work because of the soft and wet conditions. We were able to do about 4 hours of work on October 29th before the deluge started again. This past week, we have been working non-stop to blow, grind and pick up the leaves that dropped during the wet spell and continue to chase leaves that continue to fall. We use our two large area rough mowers and our green surround mowers to grind up the leaves. There are two blower units that clear the fairways and rough or place the leaves in windrows for the mowers and sweeper to pick up leaves. We also use our large vacuum sweeper to pickup leaves as well.

Below is a picture of our sweeper as I was dumping our leaves in the back area of the range. The machine will grind up the leaves and blow them in the back of the unit. They dump into a compressed pile of leaves. We picked up multiple loads of leaves over the past two days which you can see in the next picture.

The remaining leaves on property are ground up by our mowing units and will become apart of the soil. The ground leaves will decompose in the top layer of the soil and will improve the overall health of the turf.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Irrigation repair in 10 fairway

A week ago Saturday, we had a major irrigation leak at the start of #10 fairway. The blow out created a hole about 3' deep and about 4' square in our fairway as you can see by the picture below.

Once we dug up the area, the guys had to break concrete from around the tee. The concrete is used as a thrust block which protects the pipes many tees and changes in direction from damage due to the pressure and speed of water that is running through our system. We believe possibly that the weight of the thrust block with the large amounts of rain in October possibly allowed the pipe to pull out of the ductile cast iron tee that you see in the trench.
We replaced the tee and repaired the situation. We will be back filling the hole as the dirt settles and will cover with sod once the hole has completely settled.

From the University of Florida extension service publication CIR1424, there is a good explanation of why thrust blocks are used.

Thrust Blocking
These forces include water under pressure in pipelines exerts thrust forces at tees, elbows, valves, and at any change in pipe size or direction. At times there may be sudden changes in pipeline grade, horizontal alignment of the pipe, or reduction in pipe size. These conditions result in axial thrust and require an anchor or thrust blocks to absorb any axial thrust of the pipeline. Thrust control may also be needed at the end of the pipeline and at in-line control valves. Thrust blocks and anchors must be large enough to withstand the forces that tend to move the pipe. These forces include momentum and pressure as well as forces due to expansion and contraction of pipe.

Tree down during storm

Before the trees began to lose their leaves, I've identified a number of trees which are weak structurally and could possibly pose a hazard to our members, guests and staff. One of the trees was an old white oak at the beginning of #1 fairway. The tree was in pretty serious decline above ground and was showing some weakness at the ground level as well.
Before we had the opportunity to remove this tree, the heavy rain we experienced for 10 days in late October brought the tree to the ground.