GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2003 show26
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Show #26

This week we visit Chateau Elan in Braselton, Georgia. Larry Mayran welcomes Dr. Rick to this beautiful resort. The Chateau is situated on 3,500 acres and has amenities for guests such as a wonderful spa, vineyards, swimming, tennis, eight distinctive restaurants and 63 holes of championship golf. The golf courses and landscaping are beautiful. The person responsible for their care is Mike Brisbois. He is not only a great golfer but an incredible horticulturist.

Mike started at a young age playing golf, he then became interested in golf course maintenance. He enrolled at Michigan State in their turf/grass management program. He now has a two million dollar backyard that he manages. There are two daily golf courses, the Chateau Course and the Woodlands course and a nine hole walking par-3 course and the private club, the Legends. Mike's experience and knowledge about turf can be applied to our lawn.

Today we'll learn more about winter weed control and aeration for your lawn, ideas for getting your lawn ready for winter. Fall is an important time for turf managers. Mike started in early September applying a weed pre emergent to the entire golf course. As fall approaches one should back off Nitrogen applications and start to emphasize Potassium to build up the strength of the grass, help it get through winter. Mike wants to slow the growth of the plant, reduce leaf growth, yet emphasize the root system and its durability. If Nitrogen were added this time of year it would encourage tender growth. When cold weather and frost arrive some damage would then most likely occur to the plant. Instead in fall concentrate on the last number on the bag, the Potassium. Potassium builds up the cell walls of the plant and increases its winter hardiness. It is mobile in the soil, moves through the soil fairly quickly and importantly will get down to the plants roots while the plant is still growing yet starting to slow down. This is not the time we would want a slow release product, instead we want a quick release fertilizer this time of year that is low in Nitrogen, high in Potassium. An example of a fertilizer that has these elements would be an 8-2-34 or a 5-10-25. A fertilizer like this may be called a "winterizer" for turf. It is important to put a winterizer on your turf while the plant is still growing. Don't put it on in the summer and don't wait until the temperatures are too cool. If still growing, the plant will use a little bit of Nitrogen, if growing below ground the Potassium, Nitrogen and Phosphorous will all be taken up into the plant. If soil temperatures are too low the fertilizer will just sit there and quite possibly burn the plant because if growth is shut down, the plant won't absorb nutrients through its system. The middle number is Phosphorous, typically useful in the spring, especially if one is trying to grow a fescue lawn. Phosphorous promotes seed germination and gets the plant growing. Phosphorous tends to stay in the soil, thus those levels should be monitored by soil samples and soil testing. On his golf course greens Mike pulls soil samples three times per year, for Bermuda fairways and tee areas, normally twice a year.

Day Lilies, Hemerochalis, are aptly named because their flowers typically last one day. However, the plant blooms for a long time, in fact, varieties are available that will bloom from early spring through mid to late summer. Day Lilies tolerate an incredible range of conditions. They will grow in highly acidic, organic soil, in alkaline soil , even soil with a little salt or high salinity will support Day Lilies. They'll tolerate watering with brackish water, thus it's a great plant for the coast. Day Lilies are upright with very strong strap-like leaves, they provide a striking vertical accent to any landscape. Day Lilies come in a wide variety of colors, from a pure white to reds, oranges and yellows. We haven't yet seen a blue or strong green but be patient. The American Hemerochalis Society introduces almost 100 new varieties each year. Day Lilies leaves and stems are a rich green which contrasts beautifully with about every plant. Few plants are as tough or persistent as Day Lilies. They rarely need special care, their only problem is an occasional Aphid.

Day Lilies can be planted any time of year. If in a particularly cold area it is probably best to install them in spring or early summer. In areas where winters are mild it is probably best to install them in the fall.

If after 4-6 years they stop blooming or stop blooming as much as you desire consider dividing them. The buds are edible and can be added to your salad, as well.

Most of us think about weed control in the spring when weeds start appearing in our yard. In actuality, before that the weed seeds were present, they were just very small. They may have blown in from other areas, birds may have brought them, etc. They will grow under the canopy of the turf. When conditions are right they'll germinate and grow through the canopy. Mike views fighting weeds as a year round concern. He doesn't wait to see the weeds, instead he takes a different approach. Mike uses a pre-emerge application two times per year, once in the spring for summer weeds, once in the fall, for winter weeds. There is a difference between the two weeds. Grassy weeds, crab grasses, tend to emerge in summer, late summer or fall. During winter broad leaf weeds like Poania take hold. The goal with a pre-emerge is to control the weed, keep it from germinating. By doing this one isn't dealing with a mature plant and trying to eliminate it after you've seen it. On the golf course Mike lets the out-of-bounds area go, he doesn't apply a pre-emerge and cuts it one time per year. Closer to the playing area, pre-emerge is applied. The pre-emerge is applied while the grass is actively growing and the weed seeds are germinating. After the pre-emerge is applied it should then be irrigated, rain is ideal after the application. When that happens the chemical washes off the fertilizer carrier and creates a barrier over the soil preventing the weed seeds from germinating.

Timing is important. If applied too early some control will be lost at the end of the season. The product might loose its effectiveness too soon, resulting in weed germination in late winter or early spring. If applied too late the weed seeds may well have already germinated and started to come through the turf canopy. Then when it becomes apparent that the pre-emerge isn't going to be effective a post-emergant will be needed in an attempt at ridding yourself of that plant. There is some guess work as to when to apply the pre-emerge product. When the days get cooler and the nights get cooler the environment is right for weed seeds to germinate. Mike says when there is a chill in the air that is the time to get the pre-emergent down.

Georgia this week visits with Susan Emmitsberger along the sea coast in Connecticut. Susan shares with us some plants that have done well in her border garden by the sea or in Susan's case by the harbor. This environment has a lot of salt, wind and sand. Delicate flowers won't prosper.

Maiden Grass has done well, it has an interesting texture and color. The texture is ribbon like and the variegated foliage is beautiful. It brightens up an area. It is invasive, thus Susan treats it like a weed, she prunes it back to the size she likes because she likes the interest it provides in the garden.

Susan likes Sedum because she can enjoy it all year, even during winter months. She doesn't cut it back in winter, in the fall it has a beautiful burgundy color and during spring and summer it has a lovely texture and form.

Casablanca Lilies will grow to about six feet tall. In the summer when breezes come off the water they provide a wonderful scent. They add beauty and a wonderful scent to Susan's garden.

Susan says there is always a spot for a plant. Many that do well on the coast also do well inland. Experiment with different plants, see what works in your garden.

Mike believes aeration is crucial for the success of a great looking turf. Aeration is opening the soil. Several things are being accomplished in this process. The compaction of the soil is being relieved and air, water and nutrient infiltration is being improved into and through the top two to four inches. A lot of compaction, in this case on a golf course, is caused by heavy traffic, golfers, and the amount of equipment they put on the greens. Because of the the excessive compaction on the greens Mike aerates them two to four times per year. A homeowner would probably only need to do this one time per year. The ideal time to aerate Bermuda grass is spring or early summer as the turf is starting to come out of its dormancy. Mike utilizes Bent Grass, a cool season grass, he's coming off a busy golf season and he wants to relieve compaction, open up the green and improve the nutrient infiltration, thus is aerating in the fall.

To get air into the soil Mike uses a variety of equipment. We look at different tines used to aerify. First one needs to decide how big a core you want to pull from the surface. Mike first shows us a fairway aerifier, which is close to what would be used on most homeowners lawns. The weight of the machine pushes the tip of the tine into the soil, removing a small amount of soil, the next plug will push the first plug upward and the plug ejects out the open hole in the middle of the tine. This process is best handled a day or so after a heavy rain, it allows good penetration with the tine. If this isn't possible irrigate the lawn heavily beforehand, don't aerate right after irrigating because that will result in pulling up mud. Instead wait a day of so.

Thatch is dead or organic matter that accumulates at the surface or just below the leaf and above the soil. Mike has different tines, most used on putting greens. The 3/4 inch is the largest he would use on a putting green. On a green he is trying to relieve compaction and control thatch. He likes to have no more than 1/4 inch of thatch. If they feel the thatch is building up they use a larger tine and remove a larger plug from the surface. The tine takes a small portion of the top part of the turf as well as the soil beneath. The 1/4 inch tine would be used in the middle of summer when he doesn't want to disrupt the surface of the green, it allows the surface to be opened up, remove a little plug yet in two or three days no one will know anything was done. If a homeowner wanted to do this in the middle of summer, select an aerator at a rental business with a small tine because it would not do too much damage. Mike also has a spike, it doesn't take a core it punches a hole in the ground. Mike would use this in the middle of the summer if an isolated part of the green was having a hard time with water penetration. This opens up the area and allows water to penetrate the soil right away. It doesn't core out the ground, doesn't damage or destroy roots, thus is less stressful for the plant. Mike also utilizes a spiking tine, it penetrates deep into the soil, opening up channels for air, water and nutrients and actually stimulates new growth around every hole it cuts without disrupting the ground. A day or so after this procedure no one will be able to tell anything was done.

Mike also utilizes blades, called verticutting blades. They are a means of vertical mowing or standing up the leaf blade, removing minimal amounts of thatch and opening up the soil. We view a plug from a Bent grass green. We see the soil down below, the leaf growth on top and the thatch layer in the middle. The verticut removes the thatch layer. Mike has three different verticut blades. Each penetrates a little deeper and removes a little more dead leaf or thatch.

Once the holes have been created, either with the aerator or verticut machine Mike then fills the holes with white, clean, good quality sand. Filling the holes with sand gives the surface stability, yet keeps the surface loose with a little room to move around.

Dr. Rick thanks Mike for his lesson today. These tips, utilized on these beautiful golf courses, when applied to our own lawns will work there as well. If we want to be the envy of the neighborhood, to have the greenest lawn, Mike has shown us what to do. Thanks, Mike.

Link :: Château Élan Hotels & Resorts

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Photos and story by Monrovia Nursery Company

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