Add Turf Repair to Your Green Keeping Skills
Turf grasses grow closely together and so must compete with one another for water and nutrients. In addition, they are frequently mowed, and are often walked upon by people and animals as well as compacted under machinery. This means that a unique approach has to be taken for the repair, restoration and maintenance of turf.
Understand how to maintain healthy turf
- Learn about industry practices for undertaking turf repairs and renovating damaged turf.
- Learn to recognise symptoms of poor turf health, carry out inspections, and perform operations to maintain turf longevity.
- Learn about turf cultivation and techniques for improving the health of turf.
- Find out about irrigation systems for turf, and gain an insight into the turf production industry.
- Learn how to approach and resolve problems with turf.
- Develop you knowledge of the different tools and equipment available and selecting the correct tools for the job.
- Learn about maintaining your equipment.
- Understand more about weed control using different techniques - chemical and non-chemical.
Course Structure and Lesson Content
Turf Repair and Renovation is directed to the diagnosis and treatment of problems in turf.
There are 10 lessons in this course:
Lesson 1. Understanding Turf Deterioration
Inspecting Deteriorated Turf
- Using Checklists
- Report Forms
- The Effect of Traffic on Turf: wear and tear, soil compaction, environment, varieties, traffic control
- Turf Quality
- Factors Affecting Visual Quality
- Factors Affecting Functional Quality
Lesson 2. Repair and Renovation Equipment
- Scope of Equipment
- Machines that Penetrate the soil
- Aerators: hollow tine, solid tine, drills, scoop tines
- Air Injectors
- Slicing Machines
- Thatch Removal Scarifiers
- Sod Cutters
- Tool Maintenance
- Tractors: clutch, transmission, PTO, differential, etc.
- Tractor Safety
- Calibrating Sprayers
Lesson 3. Turf Cultivation Techniques
- What is Cultivation
- Soil Damage
- Thatch Build Up
- Salt or Toxin Accumulation
- Impermeable Surfaces
- Drainage and Aeration Management
- Tree Roots Competing with Turf
- Using Forks, Hoes, Rotary Hoes
Lesson 4. Health Improvement Techniques
- Minimising Problems
- Understanding What Can Go Wrong in Turf
- Assessing Problems
- Conducting an Inspection
- Tell Tale Symptoms
- Problems that are Difficult to Diagnose
- Common Turf Pests and Dealing with Them
- Common Turf Diseases and Dealing with Them
- Irrigation and Soils
- Operation of Watering Systems
- Sprinkler Spacing
- Designing for Best Sprinkler Performance
- Feeding Turf
Lesson 5. Optimising Turf Usage
- Turf Use, Type of Use, Quantity of Use
- Turf Friendly Footwear
- Machinery Damage
- Minimising Damage
- Preparing for Use
Lesson 6. Replacing Damaged Turf
- Problems and Solutions
- Turf Repair
- Sports grounds
- Turf Wickets
- Planting Turf: topdressing, sprigging, sodding, plugging, stolonizing, chitted seed
- Ploughs, Cultivators, Scarifiers
Lesson 7. Renovation of Degraded Turf
Golf Course Renovation, topdressing, changing pins and tees, feeding, soil ameliorants, greens and tees
- Weed Control
- Insect and Disease Control
- Dealing with Snow Problems
Lesson 8. Eradicating Turf Weeds
- Where and Why Weeds are a Problem in Turf
- Weeds in Seed Beds
- Weeds in New or Established Turf
- Where do Weeds Come From
- General Weed Control
- Ways to Control Weeds: suffocation, burning, cultivation, chaning pH, biological control, chemicals, etc.
- Weed Dispersal Mechanisms
- Review of Common Turf Weeds
Lesson 9. Treating Aeration and Drainage Problems
- Soil compaction, What It Is, Solutions, etc.
- Improving Surface Drainage
- Improving Water Infiltration
- Sub Surface Drains: layout, outlets, gradients, depth of drain, laying the drain, etc.
- Soil Degradation: erosion, loss of soil fertility, salinity, soil acidification, build up of dangerous chemicals
Lesson 10. Managing a Turf Nursery
- Types of Turf Nursery
- Growing a Sod Crop
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
What You May Learn in this Course
- Compare the characteristics of different turfs with reference to hardiness, pest and disease resistance, tolerance to play, suitability for different applications, etc.
- Explain different turf problems (including; soil problems, pest & disease weed, environmental, etc.).
- Explain the effect of various adverse situations on the physiology of turf plants.
- Carry out turf consultancy, conducting site inspections and giving appropriate recommendations.
- Develop solutions for the repair of damaged turf.
- Identify the cause of deteriorating condition in a selected turf
- Explain different repair techniques for control of problems identified.
- Compare different solutions for the problem identified.
- Develop turf renovation programs for different types of turf facilities.
- Compare renovation programs for different turf facilities.
- Identify when renovation becomes economically prudent for different facilities.
Lawn Renovation after Winter
After winter, most lawns look a little worse for wear, some are a disaster zone. Spring is an opportunity to reinvigorate the grass as it presently exists, or to start afresh.
A Fresh Approach
In areas where the lawn has had poor attention over many years, your best choice may be to dig up the existing area and replace it with new top soil and turf.
A rotary hoe will make quick work of a hard job. It will break up compacted heavy soil and is excellent for digging in soil improvements like gypsum, organic matter, fertiliser, etc. You can also use a rotary hoe to dig up an old turf although it is recommended that you spray it with a weedicide a few weeks before if you plan to replace the lawn with new turf.
An easy to use 8 hp rotary hoe that can dig to a depth of 200 mm is often ideal. It is self propelled and has variable speeds.
Renovating What You Have
If your lawn just looks old and tired and in need for a little TLC, then renovating your existing lawn is all you need do. With a few simple steps, your old lawn will come up lush, green and thick.
Your first task should be to inspect the site, and then act in any of the following areas that pose a problem:
1. Are there weeds present?
- If so, eradicate by using chemicals\or hand weeding.
- If the lawn is totally covered in weeds, then it is sometimes better to kill the lawn (e.g. spraying with glyphosate), then replant with seed or turf. Take care that weed seeds don’t remain in the soil; or if they do, make sure they are not given a chance to compete with the turf.
2. Is the ground hard/compacted?
Compacted soil frequently causes bare patches in the lawn. People, machinery, pets, etc. repeatedly moving across the lawn cause the soil to compact and result in poor root penetration and growth. Clay soils are the most susceptible to this problem because they have smaller air spaces. To overcome this problem you need to aerate the soil:
- Small areas – use a garden fork to spike the soil to a depth of at least 10 cm. Work the fork backwards and forwards to enlarge the holes. A hollow-tined fork, which digs out cigar-shaped plugs of soil can also be used for this purpose.
- On larger lawns, use a spiked roller.
After holes are made, use gypsum and/or sand to penetrate into the holes so that they aid in keeping the soil aerated.
3. Are the turf species appropriate?
Some grasses are more adaptable and hard-wearing than others. A mix of species will generally perform better than just one or two species. Over sowing with another species or more of the same species will help maintain thick lawn.
4. Is soil nutrition adequate?
Lawn fertilisers, which are high in nitrogen, will rapidly fix the problem of yellow leaves caused by low nutrients. It is better to apply small amounts at regular intervals (4-6 weeks) during the growing season rather than one large dose at the start of summer. Take care that you do not over fertilise the lawn as this is wasteful, excess nutrients can end up polluting waterways, and the soil may become too acidic. Check the soil pH – apply lime if the soil pH is less than 6.0.
5. Is drainage a problem?
Most grasses prefer well drained soil. If the soil remains waterlogged you will need to install drains to carry the water away.
6. Is the soil too dry?
Sandy soils dry out very quickly and will require additions of organic matter to overcome this problem. Some products are on the market to help soils hold extra water and these may be helpful.
Another cause of dry soil is thatch. Thatch is the build up of old undecomposed roots and stems on the soil surface and prevents water, nutrients and air penetrating the soil, creating dry, water repellent spots in the lawn. Thatch should be removed either by rake or using mechanical de-thatchers.
How to top dress a lawn
The main purpose of topdressing is to smooth out uneven lawn surfaces. Other benefits are to help the grass grow evenly after de thatching, to assist over sowing and to add nutrients.
- Use a light sandy loam as the topdressing material. It should be almost dry at the time of application.
- Distribute the topdressing with a shovel in small heaps across the lawn.
- Spread thinly so that the tops of the blades can still be seen, using the back of a rake, a topdressing rake, or a spreader.
- Make sure that all depressions are filled in, and that the surface is level and smooth.
- If over sowing, add a pre planting fertiliser to the topdressing mix.
What You Might Achieve
Every student is different in what they achieve from this course. For some it may be improved career or employment prospects, while for others, it is simply a greatly improved capacity to understand and manage lawns and turf surfaces.
Our Students Say
"Thanks for the videos, they are great! I got a lot of information from them. The Turf Management video is practical and easy to understand. Plant Propagation is a video every student should watch because out here in the real world no-one would give out such information. The Rose Growing Tape was very beneficial to me as I have about 60 odd roses. I thought I knew a little about them but this tape is a real eye-opener." (Kelvin, Horticulture Student)
"In my role within a large Aged Care Facility a great deal of my employment is spent in the area of Turf management and garden care/refurbishment. With ACS I was able to study at my own pace allowing me to put into practise and thoroughly research the subject matter broadening my knowledge and study experience further. I enjoyed the way in which the subject matter was presented as it allowed you to study each subject further, allowing for greater depth, clarity and knowledge. Overall there are not many areas in which the course subject matter will not turn out to be invaluable, everything is covered to allow you to become successful within your own business or place of employment. A big thank you to Gavin Cole [tutor] and all at ACS. It was a pleasure to study with ACS, look forward to further study."
(Craig Ledbury, Turf Repair and Renovation)
How This Course Could Help You
Knowledge of turf is needed in a variety of roles in the horticulture industry. Part of that knowledge is linked to how to diagnose faults in turf and repair damaged grass. This course helps students to develop an analytical way of assessing turf problems and to make good decisions about renovation programs.
Turf Repair and Renovation is aimed at those working in or hoping to work in any of the following roles:
- Green Keeping
- Turf Maintenance
- Sports Turf Maintenance
- Parks and Gardens
- Turf Supervision or Foreman Roles
- General Horticulture or Gardening
The course is studied by distance learning and can be started at any time. You study at your own pace with the support and guidance of our expert tutors.
If you have any questions, or want help in choosing a course to meet with your aims, please get in touch with one of our specialist Horticulture tutors today. They will be pleased to answer your questions and outline the different study options available to you.