Golf News

Your grass won’t grow? Heed the advice of the golf course superintendent

If the conditions are not right, new grass will not grow.

Getty Images

Welcome to “Big Secret Solvers,” where a golf course superintendent offers advice on real-life lawn care problems. Have a problem of your own? Drop us a line at, and we may address your issues in the future!

Growing grass is like playing golf. Sometimes you ask yourself: What am I doing?

A STAFF grappled with this question on its premises.

Here is the point. Earlier this month, he pulled up a few concrete slabs from his Minnesota backyard and planted grass seeds in their place, hoping to grow his green lawn. Before placing the seeds, he tilled the soil to loosen the soil, then added a layer of topsoil to balance it out. He then watered the seeds twice a day for three days (once in the morning, once at night) before going back to watering once a day. At that time, the temperature was warm but not hot, with one day of heavy rain. The back yard gets lots of afternoon sunlight.

Our hopeful homeowner waited, and waited. But weeks passed, and the seeds did not germinate. You wonder why.

In search of answers, we turned to Adam Wortman, superintendent at Hart Ranch Golf Club, in Rapid City, SD, who recently completed a renovation that included new plantings on 6.5 acres of rough, fairway and tees. Remote diagnosis is challenging, of course. But Wortman, who works in a climate like Minnesota’s, knows all about the pitfalls that come with planting. We asked him if he thought things were wrong in our employees’ yard, and what could be done to fix them. The first thing we asked ourselves was unity. Could it be that the soil was just packed too hard on those concrete slabs for the seeds to stand?

Wortman: I thought that, too. But I don’t think that’s the case here, especially since you built the soil and put down a layer of topsoil. With three or four inches of top soil, it should go well. It helps if you lower the seed into that soil a little. On the golf course, we’ll use what’s called a Brillion seeder for that. Or we’ll run them with a knobby wheel just so the seeds can’t wash or blow away. You can use almost anything. At home, you can step on the seeds with your tennis shoe and press them down. Is there any risk of damaging the seeds if you do that?

Wortman: Nah. Maybe if you go over them repeatedly with a lawnmower. But not by rolling over them or stepping on them with your tennis shoe. If compaction isn’t the problem, could it just be bad soil?

Wortman: I don’t think that’s a problem, either. You can see in the picture you have grass growing nearby, and besides, that topsoil should have been enough to give the seeds a good place to grow. It was a very rainy day. Is there any chance that the seed has just been washed away?

Wortman: Washing is possible. But I don’t think that’s the case here. It is a very small place and in the picture, it looks flat. It’s not on a slope or anything. The rain could shake that seed a little. But I don’t think it would have washed it all away.

One of the few vacant lots in Minnesota’s troubled region.

Robert Beringela People often say that the best time to plant grass seed is fall. Could it be that he was just trying to plant grass at the wrong time of year?

Wortman: I know guys who will plant in the fall. They will silence it – they are seeds and wait until spring to see what comes up and plant what doesn’t take. My problem is with falling night temperatures especially where I am and where he is. It can be very cold. I prefer to do it in the spring, when the soil and air temperature starts to rise. You need the right temperatures. We have had a cold night and frost lately, and the frost is bad for the new seed. You really want to do it when nighttime temperatures are above 50 degrees and low temperatures are between 55 and 60. That’s right. Anything less than that and those seeds will stay there. The temperature was above that of Minnesota, so it seems we can check that and cross it off the list.

Wortman: It sounds like it. That brings us to irrigation.

Wortman: It happens. That was a really big question that I had. Did he keep the seed bed wet all the time? He begged twice a day. Not enough?

Wortman: I don’t think it was. This is not going to be one of those deals where you say, I water it once before I go to work and again when I get home. You need to set a timer. Or have someone water it every few hours. Easy and regular watering to keep that seed bed moist – if you do that, you’ll have the most success. You don’t need water to gather around. Just get the top two inches of water, and keep them wet. If you see the seeds starting to come out of the soil, you can start watering less. “Easy and common.” How often and how much is that?

Wortman: When we planted the seeds for preparation, we watered six times a day for about two minutes. In two hours, it would be dry and our sprinklers would start again. We believed in it. You should be. You have to spoon feed that new seed. If he started that kind of irrigation system. Now, is there any chance that the seed will still grow?

Wortman: I think there’s a good chance it could be. He should try it. And when the seeds started to grow, he could see where there were gaps and close them. How long should he expect it to take?

Wortman: Where he is, in Minnesota, this time of year, I would say about 10 days. He must first see what is coming. And if nothing happens, can he try the seed again?

Wortman: Definitely. And if that fails, the nuclear option, right? Should he just appear?

Wortman: Yes. Just spread a strip of sod. The good thing about that is that you don’t need to do light and watering regularly. Just soak that soy in the morning and afternoon and leave it for the day. You don’t need to breed that soybean as you are making new seeds. New seeds are hard.

Josh Sens Editor

Golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a contributor to GOLF Magazine since 2004 and now contributes to all areas of GOLF. His work has been honored in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Have Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button