One for the Grass Nerds

COUCH GRASS

Couch grass is a warm season grass in that it likes and grows best in warm to hot temperatures. Although much more drought tolerant than cool season grasses, it still requires a sufficient amount of water to perform at optimum levels.

Couch grass goes’ dormant’ or ‘hibernates’ through the winter months as it does not like the cool weather. It starts to gather as many nutrients as possible from late autumn in the knowledge they will be required to sustain the upcoming winter. When dormant, the couch loses much of its colour to the point of having a straw like colour. Frosts push it further into dormancy.

At Eagle Ridge Golf Course, we have Santa Anna couch on the fairways and Winter Green couch on the tees. Both of these varieties are hybrids.

Santa Anna couch is one of the most salt tolerant couches and is a vigorous grower. It has a deep green colour during the growing season which normally lasts for nearly nine months a year.

Each winter, worms begin to burrow just below the fairway surface on the fairways situated on a heavy soil such as those fairways across the front of the course. The burrowing results in worm casts sitting on the surface on mass. As the golf carts keep driving over them, a hard crust of soil sitting on the surface is the result. Spraying of the worms is fairly successful in stopping this process, but each application only lasts for a few weeks.

In regard to cutting of the fairways, from late spring to early autumn, they are cut two or three times per week. Through winter, they are not cut at all from mid May through to the end of August.

Eleven of our tee systems have a Winter Green couch surface. Winter Green couch is less aggressive than Santa Anna. Its name suggests it is greener in winter than other couches but I find it has a very similar colour to that of Santa Anna. Poa Invasion in couch is a constant headache for golf course Superintendents and I have found it to be much more resistant to Poa Invasion than Santa Anna. This may well be due to a somewhat denser growth habit than Santa Anna. There are also significantly less worm casts on the couch tees. This is because the tees are built on sand which contains much less nutrients than a dark soil that some of the fairways are built on.

With works always going on at Eagle Ridge Golf Course, we always invite you to come and have a look at all the effort that goes into making Eagle Ridge one of the best public courses in Australia.

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