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Try This Technique for Improving Drainage


It is always a challenge to manage areas with poor drainage, and on sandcapped turfgrass areas the drainage can be quite problematic once organic matter builds up over the sand layer. Topdressing and aerififying and verticutting can all be used to dilute or remove organic matter, but when the organic layer gets too thick, it holds a lot of moisture, negating the value of the sandcap and creating an ideal growing environment for weeds.

Sand_om_layer The image above shows how an organic layer develops on a sandcapped fairway, and the image at right shows how weedy species have colonized the surface of what was once a zoysia fairyway. The buildup of organic matter over sandcapped fairways is why I have often suggested that sandcapping is not an ideal way to construct a fairway. Sandcapped fairways require more maintenance and deteriorate over time. Topdressed fairways, on the other hand, require less maintenance and improve over time.

But no matter what type of soil you have, this tip from Larry Gilhuly at the USGA is one that might be useful for you. Have you ever encountered areas with excessive organic matter buildup that slows water from infiltrating into the soil? Gilhuly asks,

"Can this condition be easily fixed at no cost or should all of these locations have complete renovation? . . . Sand topdressing and regular aeration are used to help negate the problems of excess organic material, but often this is not enough. After testing several methods to dry these areas, Rich Taylor, CGCS, struck upon the idea of using cup cutters spaced every one to two feet to go as deep as possible. The excessive organic material and some soil is removed and replaced with sand. This change essentially creates multiple dry wells in the area. If the soil underneath has reasonable permeability, the results are fast and effective. Follow-up sand topdressing is then practiced to minimize future layers. In the past few years, previous wet areas around the greens are now gone by using this simple technique."

Read the entire article on the USGA website here.

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