Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Home Irrigation Management

Home lawn sprinkler systems, when used properly, can certainly help to maintain a beautiful green lawn.  However, often times, homeowners make the mistake of setting the clocks, and walking away.  Putting your system on “auto-pilot” like this can lead to the sprinklers doing more harm than good to your lawn.  Here are a few suggestions to help get the best out of your irrigation system:


·                    Be aware of the changing water requirements of your turf.  As the days grow shorter and evaporation rates drop, you can reduce your irrigation.  Even during beautiful fall days, the turf loses less than one-third of the moisture it does during a summer day.

·                    In the heat of the summer, water deeply and infrequently.  For most lawns this means watering 2-3 times per week.  This process will help promote a deeper, healthier root system.

·                    While watering deeply is good, it does not mean to the point of run-off.  If the water isn’t staying on your property, it’s not doing your lawn any good!

·                    Take the time to watch your system run, or have your contractor inspect the system on a regular basis.  Sprinklers can often get hit by mowers, or get clogged with debris causing them to stop spinning.

·                    Make sure your rain sensor is set properly.  We often see homeowners’ sprinklers running again less than 24 hours after a significant rain event. 

·                    Don’t be afraid to shut the system off for a few days.  (If you walk in your yard and sink to your ankle, this really may be a wise idea.)  If your lawn starts to turn brown from heat stress, it is not going to die.  This state of dormancy is nature’s way of protecting the plant.

·                    If it’s brown, it must need more water.  Wrong!  Brown turf may be caused by drought stress, but can also be a sign of insect damage or turf disease.  In the latter case, more water can often exacerbate the problem.  


By following these tips, you can improve your lawn, and save money by using less water.  Remember, you can't just "set it and forget it."  If you  have questions, seek professional help in properly setting up your system.
Water runoff from a lawn is even causing damage to the golf course.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tee Irrigation Upgrades Will Improve Efficiency, and Help the Environment by Making the Tees "Greener"

This fall, we are continuing the four year renovation and upgrade to the tee portion of the irrigation system, vastly improving how it operates.  For 2012, we will install new valving, pipe, wire and sprinklers on holes #2, 5, 8, 12, and 13.

There are several reasons why this change is needed.  The original irrigation system was a "wall to wall" design, with sprinklers located from one side of the golf course to the other, spaced 80 feet apart.  While this works well during the grow-in phase of a golf course, it doesn't allow for water to be placed only where needed.  Because of the current spacing, it takes 40% as much water to irrigate the tees as it does the fairways, even though tee acreage is only 15% of fairway acreage.  With many tees being surrounded by Fescue (which should not be irrigated), it's clear that our current system doesn't allow targeting solely the tee surface.

In contrast to this, the new tee design enables us to focus on only irrigating what needs it.  The new layout calls for sprinklers to be spaced 40-45 feet apart.  This will allow for the installation of part circle sprinklers located on the perimeter of the tees.  While the old sprinklers used 45 gallons per minute, the new, smaller heads will use only 15 gpm.  In most locations, the design is similar to what’s used on a desert golf course, with only the tee surface receiving water.  Water conservation is a real benefit of this project.

In addition to more efficient sprinklers, the new design will also change to a better type of piping.  HDPE (high-density polyethylene) will replace the current PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe.  Why make this switch?  Well, HDPE has many advantages over PVC, including better ability to bend, greater impact resistance, better freeze tolerance, and improved surge tolerance. 

Furthermore, the PVC we have is gasketed pipe, and is held in place primarily by the weight of the soil.  During the system start up this past spring, wet soils allowed a section of pipe to move, and pull out of its gasket, causing a leak.   With HDPE, this type of problem will no longer be a concern, since HDPE is considered a monolithic system— a process called "fusion" joins pipe and fittings together, and results in a connection that is as strong as the original pipe.  So, with HDPE you have no gaskets and no glue fittings to worry about.  And, if that's not enough, HDPE is significantly "greener" than PVC, whose production releases chlorine-based chemicals.       

This significant improvement to the course's infrastructure is going to take a few weeks this fall, and will require the use of some large equipment.  However, we will do everything possible to minimize the disruption to play, including requiring the contractor to work on only one hole at a time.  While a particular hole is under construction we will move the tee markers forward in order to keep the hole open for play.  We appreciate your understanding of the disruption during this time, and know that from both an environmental and playability perspective this will help keep the course green!  
The contractor is making good progress on the installation of new tee sprinklers.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Broken Tees

Broken tees are an issue for two reasons.  First, aesthetically, they can make a nice tee box appear to be littered.  Secondly, they have the potential to damage the mower's reels. 

We removed the broken tee containers from the Par 3 tees earlier this season.  The concept of having these right next to the divot mix boxes was great.  However, they weren't being used, and just became one more item for the staff to move when setting up the course for play, or mowing the tees. 
Unfortunately, the containers didn't reduce the time we have to spend gathering broken tees. 

Still, it would be greatly appreciated if you could take the time to pick up your tee.
This picture shows the unimpressive "catch" on the four Par 3s after a busy Friday.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Got Grubs?

This week's surprise came when we discovered some Bluegrass rough that peeled back like an area rug in your house.  The cause of this was easy to identify:  Grubs.

Grubs are the larvae stage of  scarabs (beetles), and they eat turf roots...which is obviously not good.  If you see turf that is wilting despite good soil moisture, you can give it a tug and see if it is well-rooted, or not.  Secondary damage to the grass can occur when animals such as crows, raccoons, and skunks start tearing at the turf to find the yummy grubs.

The strange thing is that we haven't seen grub damage in many years.  A preventative application is made in late June, and to date, has been very successful in controlling these insects.  There are several possible causes for the lack of control this year, including the timing of application, misses by the applicator, lack of timely precipitation/irrigation to move the product to the soil, or product failure.

For now, a curative application has been made to areas where we have found grub activity.  Going forward we will re-evaluate our timing and control methods.
These guys aren't feeling too good after a control product was applied this week.