Golf Course Management

MAY 2014

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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72 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 05.14 response to being planted in too much or too little sun. • Leaf color: Summer color as well as fall color are important aesthetic and design features. • Mature/eventual size and shape: Nursery plants often look smallish and less than impressive at installation time. Fight the urge to make up for it by spacing them too closely. • Winter appeal: Especially important for northern or Midwestern courses that cel - ebrate Christmas or other winter holidays. • Soil moisture: Adequate or inadequate drainage can either encourage vigorous root growth or predispose them to soil- borne diseases. • Soil pH: Many ornamentals such as pin oak, hydrangea and azalea are pH depen - dent for success. • Disease resistance: This equates to lower maintenance for ornamental plantings. • Playability problems: Groundcovers or pe - rennial plants often facilitate lost golf balls, slowing down play. • Flower/fruit/fragrance: Butterfies are always welcome, but bees can be a real nuisance, es - pecially for the easy-to-offend member or for medically allergic individuals. • Bloom sequence: A high degree of aesthetic appeal is created when several plants are in bloom at each point in the growing season. • Native choices: Chances are good that na - tive plants are going to survive and be less likely to succumb to various pest problems. • Hardiness zones: Lack of cold and heat tol - erance can be major causes of plant survival issues when plants are not sited according to hardiness zones. • Growth habit: Consider low-growing or prostrate ornamentals on slopes and upright species where screening is desirable. • Flooding tolerance: If the course is lo - cated near a river or lake, this consideration is paramount. • Level of maintenance: High levels of main - tenance can be justifed in high-visibility areas, but other areas can be zoned for lower-maintenance plantings. • Safety: Some plants drop extensive foliage or other debris, creating unsafe walking or playing conditions. Implementation of changes For better or worse, tenets such as RPRP tend to be considered only in simplistic terms and can lead superintendents to overlook all the inherent species and cultivar characteris - tics. For example, because sun/shade require- ments and eventual height are the two most commonly described criteria in plant selection guidelines on golf courses, the many others listed above can be dismissed out of disdain for information overload. Consideration of only one or a few of the facets of RPRP often leads to plant failure. Hopefully, by this point in the article, you've been convinced to evaluate, ponder and/or investigate ornamental plantings more thoroughly through the processes of site assessment, site analysis and RPRP. Once this has been accomplished, two basic choices exist — frst, you can choose the best specifc plant based on the current conditions, or sec - ond, you can change the conditions to ft a specifc plant. Changing the conditions usually involves more cost and effort, but there may be certain times when it makes sense, for example, do - nated plants, memorial tee boxes, etc. Often, the decision to change is based on the health and vigor of the existing plant and the degree of sentiment attached to it. John C. Fech, Ph.D., is a horticulturalist with the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and an ISA-certifed arborist who is a frequent contributor to GCM. Groundcover junipers help stabilize the slope along a path. 068-073_May14_Fech.indd 72 4/16/14 2:52 PM

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