Many courses in Northern areas have begun their annual rite of late Summer, early Fall-the roar of the hollow tine cultivation unit followed by burying the putting surface, tee or fairway in sand topdressing. Is this a hold-over from a time when we aerified twice per year or is it something we need to keep doing?
In simple terms if you have a sand-based root-zone, i.e., greater than 85% sand, you have a few options. First, if you want to minimize any coring-solid, hollow or needle, then you better be prepared to apply between 17 and 22 cubic yards of sand per year, of once very five days.
If you are willing to cultivate regularly during the season with a less invasive method and avoid “the roar” in Spring and Fall then be sure to apply the same amount of topdressing but you can apply it less frequently at 7-10 days. If you want to keep roaring the aerifier and are also willing to make a monthly hole then you can topdress every 10-14 days.
If you have a good sand-base then as we have said before that a “hole is a hole” and you can save lots of labor by simply solid tining and topdressing behind it. The key to effective surface organic matter management is dilution of the OM with sand. The coring or solid tining or needle tining is nothing more than making room for the sand. Hardly anything to roar about.