(ARA) - Golf courses must look good day after day all season long. With more than
35,000 players using a single course during the year, this challenge is great. How do
golf course superintendents keep their fairways and greens looking so good? One of their
"tricks" is to follow a sound fertilizer program. By consistently feeding the grass
with the right products, they not only fertilize their course but also help manage weed,
disease and insect problems.
* Use the right fertilizer
The right fertilizer for a golf course, or any lawn you want to look great throughout
the season, is one that releases organic nitrogen into the soil only as grass uses it.
This helps prevent excessive top growth, which can encourage disease and insect problems.
It also helps prevent polluting groundwater and nitrogen runoff into lakes and streams.
Organic nitrogen sources, such as Milorganite 6-2-0 fertilizer, are an excellent source
of slow release nitrogen. The nitrogen in Milorganite 6-2-0 is released by naturally
occurring microbes in your soil.
* Fertilize regularly
Superintendents fertilize their courses on a regular basis. Feeding their turf is as
important to a superintendent as feeding a pet to a pet owner. Fertilizing should be
done regularly, using the right product. If you have a large lawn, you may want to sample
and analyze your soil. If not, you can ask your local nursery or extension agent for
fertilizers that are commonly accepted in your area. The important thing to remember
is to fertilize your lawn before it undergoes stress.
Wayne Otto, retired golf course superintendent from the Ozaukee Country Club (Mequon,
Wis.), says, "I found that using a successful fertilizer program is a simple way to
make sure my course was in its best playing condition. Slow release organic fertilizers
are gentle on grass. They favor healthy growth and during hot, dry summer months, helped
my fairways to look their best. "
* Use fertilizer with iron
Another tip is to use fertilizers that also contain iron. While iron is not a nutrient
that plants need a lot of, it will help create a deep even green color to your lawn.
And it doesn't cause a lot of top growth like fast release nitrogen does. Iron is available
in two sources -- sprayable liquids and dry granules. Liquids are messy to use and will
stain walks, drives, siding and any other surface they encounter. Granules are easier
to apply, and are not removed by mowing. The only drawback is they may have a form of
iron that is not easily available to grass.
Milorganite 6-2-0 contains 4 percent organically chelated iron. This source doesn't
stain walks, drives or other concrete surfaces and is readily available to grass.
* Control weeds without worry
Golf courses often do not have the weed problems with which homeowners contend. This
is due to the tight, thick turf that grows on fairways and greens.
Weed seeds only germinate when they have plenty of moisture and light. If your lawn
is thick with grass, it's hard for weeds to get started. A successful fertilizer program
will fill in thin spots in your lawn so weed seeds will not have the light and moisture
they need to germinate. Then you can have a weed control program with little or no spraying
or hand digging.
* Discourage disease and insects
When a golf course fairway grows rapidly, it produces an abnormal amount of top growth.
This top growth provides a luscious meal for insects and disease. Superintendents use
fertilizers with a high amount of slow release nitrogen, which helps limit the amount
of top growth. This helps discourage insects and disease. Plus, if insects and disease
do attack their grass, it is ready to grow back because it is being evenly fed. This
limits the amount of damage that can occur, and keeps the course looking great.
* Mow with sharp blades
Superintendents make sure their mower blades are always sharp. Sharp blades cut the
grass rather than tearing it. Tearing blades of grass gives it a grayish color and opens
the door for disease to enter. They also only remove one-third of the grass blade at
any one time. This doesn't stress the grass as much as removing half or more. Frequent
mowing is less stressful for lawns. *Water less.
Turf professionals stress that watering less often and deeply will result in a greener
lawn. Deep watering helps roots grow deeper into the soil, allowing them to better take
up nutrients and water during times of stress. Frequent, shallow watering keeps grass
roots near the surface. When hot weather comes, they are more likely to go dormant,
giving your lawn a straw color.
Take the advice of Wayne Otto and other turf professionals for growing a deep green
lawn that will give you enjoyment all summer long.
Note: This article was submitted by a second party and the contents are subject to