Today we have a guest post from Vinny Tarbox of The Grass Group on the subject of Ultragrooming. Over to Vinny:
Why you can’t afford not to be Ultragrooming your Bowling Green
The question of Ultragrooming is becoming much more of a hot topic with the ever increasing need for consistent play, be more environmentally friendly, whilst also high quality and also to trim costs where possible.
Ultragrooming is a process that removes the puffiness and thatch from your green. With regular use it is the pre-eminent solution to help minimize puffiness in both high density creeping bent and Bermuda (warm season areas) grass thereby reducing the scalping and foot-printing that plagues these new grasses. It will remove unsightly seed heads in Poa annua turf with minimal fuss. On newly established greens it can help reduce the ingress of Poa annua by “grabbing” individual Poa plants before they get a chance to take hold. It will produce a superior fine leafed Poa turf stand when used
regularly on Poa dominant greens.
The Advanced Turf Technology (ATT) TM SystemTM ‘Ultragroomer’ can provide exceptional results on high density fine turf grasses such as creeping bents, suggests ATT’s John Coleman. “Bents are desirable for their tighter density which gives an excellent playing surface, but the downside is that this inevitably means increased production of organic material.”
Traditionally, verticutting has been the solution to remove organic debris, but John suggests that the 10mm spacing of a verticut reel is more suited for older; less dense grasses and that developments to specialist cultivars have outpaced traditional maintenance machine technology. The situation is exacerbated by lower heights of cut which can further increase density. Verticutting, John points out, is best suited to removing the build up of organic matter rather than preventing it, and the sward can soon get tight and puffy, leading to thatch development. It is during this ‘puffy’ phase that the green surface ‘footprints’. Cutting at low heights of cut when bowling greens are in this state will also result in scalping, further stressing the plant. “The sward is also subjected to considerable stress by aggressive verticutting, which can weaken it. After a week or so it comes back and is fine for another week, but then you have to start the whole process again. It is hard to provide a consistent playing surface under those circumstances,” he says.
Treatment with the Ultragroomer every week to 10 days minimises the phased management effect, using thin tipped blades at 5mm spacings. “More blade surface area is in contact with the turf, and it is working at a shallower depth, so stress on the plant is reduced,” John explains. “It can prevent excessive organic material developing, making for a more consistent green over the course of the season.”
In theory not ultragrooming is the equivalent to brushing your teeth regularly but then not visiting the dentist for a deep clean, the grass will still look presentable but the lack of good grooming habits will catch up with you and cause problems further down the line. A lack of grooming will not result in anything as serious as a filling or a root canal, but the members’ complaints are likely to become more common as green speeds become more erratic, the thatch increases and the build-up causes further problems including disease that then only significant action such as fraise mowing can resolve.
Another benefit of ultragrooming is that you can save money on your top dressing. With the costs of aggregates constantly increasing and availability becoming more scarce all the time, a regular ultragrooming programme can mean that the need to top dress decreases saving you money, time and even worn parts due to the abrasive nature of the sand whilst also improving the health of your bowling green at the same time.
So the question really is, if you’re not already regularly ultragrooming when can you start?
Vinny Tarbox, The Grass Group
+44 (0)1638 720123 – Tel
+44 (0)7801 088345 – Mob