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Why Weed Control should not be ignored

Weed_freeThere has been a tightening of budgets across the United Kingdom and turf managers everywhere are faced with a dilemma - Do we treat our playing surfaces for Weeds, Worms or Insects or invest in new corner flags, football nets or goal posts?

Our advice to the purse holder who allocates the budgets is think very carefully in the first instance before reducing the maintenance budget for your school playing surfaces.

Many schools revolve around their football, cricket, hockey and rugby programmes both during school hours and as out of hours activities - skimping now can lead to catastrophic failures and expensive remedial work in the future.

Experience tells us that whilst reducing the budget may initially bolster the finances in the short term it can realistically lead to increased expense in six, twelve or eighteen months as neglected weed treatments allow un proliferated dispersal of millions of weeds seeds into otherwise weed free areas.

Weeds are far more than just an irritation and should be considered the initial phase of breaking down of your whole turf infrastructure. Groundsman and Greenkeepers will tell you that if the sward is optimised and a tight regime of well timed maintenance administered, weeds cannot compete with the densely populated grass surface. When a weed is allowed to infiltrate the soil surface and reproduce, the grass is weakened very quickly from strong competition by the weeds for light and nutrients.

After just one season of unchecked weed dispersal or growth, the cost of renovation, which may include the weed control that had been missed in the first instance, a follow up weed treatment at possibly the same cost with an increased risk of expensive overseeding or re-turfing where the root system of the grass may have irretrievable broken down.

We understand that your organisation has not got unlimited funds and of course there may have to be some element of compromise but we would urge you to consider the next move and whether 'a stitch in time saves nine' or we may use one more perhaps overused cliché - 'one years weeds, seven years of seeds'.

It is also worth considering the milder and wetter winters and even higher than average rainfall in the summers we are having and the increase in the population of worms; similarly, control of Worms and Insects is essential for the long term health of your playing surfaces.

Worms are indeed great for soil structure and the health of the root zone beneath your playing surface - We have however found that the casting worm does more damage in the longer term by clogging up and damaging cutting heads of expensive mowers, leading to regular back lapping and regrinding when a clean surface would help to lengthen periods between this expensive remedial maintenance.

Worm casts also provide the best possible seed bed for wind dispersed weed seeds and coupled with a neglected weed treatments can lead to an explosion of weeds the following season. Worm casts smear over the turf surface, reducing visible grass and playing area, upset the cleaners with the mud being brought inside and restricting you from mowing at the time that it is most needed.

Similarly, Insects are a hidden menace which eat away at the grass roots causing extensive damage and further weakness to your grass infrastructure. Watch out for swarms of Daddy Long legs in late summer because shortly after, hundreds of thousands of Crane Fly larvae will be hatching into Leatherjackets and tucking straight into your grass roots.

Turf managers are also under pressures to keep the playing surfaces in use during the school holidays so carrying out certain activities with little or no disruption to the busy summer schedules can be a challenge.

Consider contractors who utilise shrouded booms. Shrouded booms means that spraying can be carried out in otherwise blustery conditions which eliminates drift and over-spray but also to allow the continuation of sports activities on adjacent surfaces without disruption.



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