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Field Guide

Tips For Protecting Your Turf This Winter

October 28, 2014

Winter is just around the corner, and for golf course superintendents in cold climates, now is the time to start taking action to prepare your greens for the frigid season ahead. The truth is there is no offseason for golf course maintenance, and in many cases, winter is the most important time to make valuable course improvements since there is minimal disruption from players.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most important golf course maintenance tips in preparing for winter and getting through the entire cold season.

Golf Course Green
  • Apply nitrogen fertilizer to help turf survive the winter: During the fall and winter, the days get shorter and turfgrass growth slows. As your greens slow their growth, it’s important to apply nitrogen fertilizer. This will be stored in the root tissue, giving the turf vital carbohydrates that help it survive the winter and achieve healthy early spring growth.
  • Invest in winter turf covers for greens: The harsh winter elements can brutalize your greens. If your golf course is in an area that gets a lot of snow and ice during the winter, it’s a good idea to use winter turf blankets to shield your greens from snow, ice, frost and cold winds. Not only can a winter turf blanket protect your greens from the elements, but they also prevent any unwanted foot and animal traffic. The best turf covers also allow sunlight to pass through and warm the soil to encourage turf growth so you’ll have healthy greens for spring.
  • Increase sunlight exposure for turfgrass: For greens to remain healthy, they need to get plenty of sun. Of course, during those short winter days, that can be challenging, so every little bit of sun helps. That’s why it’s a good idea to remove or trim back tree canopies hanging over any greens blocking out the sun. The less shade over your greens during the winter, the better for turf health.
  • Monitor your greens all winter long: Even if your course doesn’t allow winter play, it’s still important that staff monitors course conditions regularly throughout the offseason. Debris needs to be cleaned from the landscape regularly, snow may need to be removed occasionally to aid in ice melt and soil samples need to be taken to monitor turf health.

Simply put, proper golf course winterization starts now and continues throughout the winter months. Now is the time to take the necessary steps to ensure your golf course remains healthy all year long.

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