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.

2 Comments

    Heather

    It sounds like you have a beautiful course, due, I’m sure, to your hard work.
    I am hoping you will answer a question for me. My husband and I play at Bannockburn Golf Course near Geelong. Our fairways a Santa Anna couch. We have sand scrapes but our beautiful fairways and surrounds more than compensate.
    My question is : Do you spray for winter grass each season? Our grounds committee is all volunteers and everyone and no-one is an expert! What is your opinion on eradicating winter grass?
    I would really appreciate your advice.
    Many thanks, Heather

      Eagle Ridge

      Good Morning Heather,
      Thanks for the question. Scott our Greens Keeper has the below response for you.
      “At Eagle Ridge, we are very pro eradication/control of winter grass in our couch tees and fairways.

      Winter grass is becoming more and more difficult to control as it is constantly building a resistance too many herbicides that are recommended for its control.

      We spray the winter grass two to three times a year with a variety of post-emergent herbicides. It is important to use herbicides from different groupings as winter grass builds up a greater resistance to a herbicide if that one herbicide is constantly applied to it.
      A pre-emergent application of a herbicide is applied during February of each year and sometimes later in the year.

      I hope this helps. We’d love to see updated photos and updates on the course.
      Kind Regards,
      Adam

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