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
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,
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
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
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
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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