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Tree Management Programs

Trees are an essential part of most golf course landscapes, specifically parkland and heathland style courses. Many golf courses from the circa 1930 era, went through a period of heavy tree planting to assist in converting farmland into a parkland golf course. Now that these trees are coming into maturity golf course managers have discovered many challenges as a result of over planting, poor species selection and lack of a good planting plan. Long term management programs have been initiated to assess and manage the trees on many golf course properties.

Lightning protection can help protect feature trees

from a potential devastating lightning strike.

The Challenges

Shade is the most obvious threat to any golf course, specifically around green sites. Once a green becomes shaded the turf declines and playability suffers. Trees that shade key playing areas are critical to identify and manage because they can have the most impact to the maintenance of the golf course both agronomically and economically. Overplanting occurs when trees are planted to close together and the golf course gradually acquires a closed-in, claustrophobic feel. A common result of overplanting is that good golf holes are made unfair or just overly penal, and they become less enjoyable to play. In addition, over planting can cause a negative impact on tree health. Trees need the proper space and sunlight to grow to their natural shape and beauty. Species selection is another challenge faced by golf courses. Many of the trees planted are non native and quickly begin to decline as they reach maturity. Outside pest problems like the Emerald Ash Borer are slowly reducing Ash tree populations in Southern Ontario. Tree problems come in a variety of forms, but they basically revolve around quantity, quality, and location. The wrong (species) tree in the wrong location can be disastrous for turf and tree health. It also can greatly increase the cost of golf course maintenance.

Developing a Plan

Developing a tree managment program is completed with the assistance of a certified Aborist, and a Golf Course Architect. Once completed it requires constant updating and re-evaluation to manage a tree plan effectively. The arborist is entrusted to complete a detailed inventory outlining the location, species, health, and to make recommendations for each tree on the property. Some common recommendations include; pruning, re-location, removing, pesticide treatments, cabling and even installing lightning rods to help protect feature trees. Once the arborist has completed the tree evaluation the Golf Course Architect can make recommendations for new plantings, adding feature trees to the landscape. Once the specific locations have been selected by the architect the arborist can determine the best species for each location.

Implement the Plan

Once a Tree Management Program has been developed it is important to follow-up with a long term strategy. Executing a plan efficiently requires creating a timeline that is implemented over many years. The timeline will assist in maintaining focus on the long term results. Prioritizing the areas of concern is the first step in developing a timeline and costs are an additional consideration when implementing the Tree Management Program. The ultimate goal of creating and executing a tree management program is to have a Golf .

Austrian Pine showing symptoms of Diplodia Blight disease

Course that is focused on maximizing turfgrass health and conditions while symbiotically managing and preserving a healthy parkland landscape.

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