Trees on a golf course, love them or hate them, either way they need to be managed. When most people think tree management they usually think about tree trimming, pruning of the branches, or managing for disease or insect infestation. As a turf manager we also need to address the impact trees have on the turf. Tree roots although they remain unseen, they can create a great deal of damage to the turf. Damage that usually seems to be a secondary issue, but quite frankly can be the root (no pun intended) of the problem.
Tree roots can grow right into the greens and rob the turf of the water and nutrients needed to grow properly. This past week Rick trenched around the 5th green on the left and back side of the green. There is a large American elm on the left, 2 large oaks and a basswood to the back of the green. As Rick trenched he cut thousands of feeder roots as well as roots measuring 1-2 inches in diameter. After trenching a barrier fabric was installed in the trench so the tree roots could no longer grow in the direction of the green.
For years we have struggled with the health of the turf on the 5th green. Hopefully by cutting the tree roots the health of the turf will gradually improve over the next few years.