Purpose. Pre. During. Post.
The entire subject of greens aerification is fraught with the very same issues that often make monkeys fly out of people’s butts. Go ahead, read it again. Keep trying. It will make sense eventually. Or not.
Over the last couple weeks, I’ve had some calls to come and look at greens that just didn’t come through fall aerification the way they were expected to. There are some common denominators that show when we do the diagnosis. If you are dealing with this, it might help to go through the process and questions that I use to try to figure things out.
One. Purpose. Why are you doing this? Hint, if you dare to answer this question with, “Because we always do it”, then you might need to take a swim in the wet well. Please. Think hard about why you are punching holes and how you are doing it. In my mind, thatch removal, compaction removal and air exchange are three different things, requiring three different techniques. A decent solid review of methods is always necessary. Might be good to figure out why you are doing the operation and use the correct method.
Two. Pre. What have you done to prepare the surface prior to the event? I remember clearly just waiting for that magic Monday when I could finally put the tines in the ground, the greens telling me clearly (in the night, while I wasn’t sleeping) that they had nothing left to give. Just a like a patient that goes under the knife in a weak state and dies on the table, so too can be a green that gets double deep-tined, double deep-verticut and buried in topdressing. Buy the funeral flowers. Instead, because you and the guys in the Pro Shop all know the date of the big event by heart, why not make some moves to increase turfgrass health, pre-invasion? It’s a sad axiom, but your greens better be the best they can be just before you tear them up. Yes, it adds to the “you are just doing this to piss us off” crowd’s argument. Oh well.
Three. During. Have you given yourself and your grass every advantage during the operation? This might be a harder area if you haven’t really answered question number 1. Assuming you have, then this area covers making sure that you have thought through all the possible things that could happen. Are you yourself rested? Have you communicated with your crew that some hard work is coming that won’t last forever? Can you employ any methods or other options that will make it easier on your greens? Always having a “plan B” is key to making it through any event. This one included.
Four. Post. What are you doing for your greens post-invasion? Is there anything you can spray to send plants running sideways? Can you lay off the HOC for a bit and just let them grow. Did you really have to double cut with the sand reels for 5 days straight, those reels dull enough to not to cut hard boiled eggs? What do your soil tests tell you that could be done to help energy and root development? From my perspective, I see people get just one day past the big job and forget that they sent their children into major shock. Some gentle therapy might be in order.
Purpose. Pre. During. Post. — A simple planning mantra for making a necessary thing go better. And then monkeys won’t have to fly out your butt. A good thing.