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Au Naturel

By |  August 12, 2020 0 Comments
Photo: Corteva Agriscience

Photo: Corteva Agriscience


A solid plan is key to maintaining native and naturalized areas, which are a growing trend on the golf course.

Native and naturalized areas are a growing trend in the golf course industry, says Jared Hoyle, PhD, territory manager for Corteva Agriscience Turf & Ornamental. According to the United States Golf Association (USGA), 40 percent of golf courses are increasing the presence of these areas – either by letting existing natural areas grow or by establishing new areas with native plant life – and are doing so for a number of reasons.

Photo: Jared Hoyle/Corteva

Jared Hoyle

“Superintendents are looking for ways to decrease outputs, as well as to decrease their budgets,” Hoyle said. “The goal of native and naturalized areas is to give time back to superintendents, not to add another task for them to do.”

Hoyle is quick to add that incorporating native and naturalized areas does not eliminate the need for maintenance, but that these areas can require less maintenance and less product to thrive. Native areas are most often found in low-traffic areas of the golf course, such as deep roughs, but they can also be found in areas-of-play to cover hazards in the design of the course. Native and naturalized areas can offer a number of environmental benefits, Hoyle adds, such as creating wildlife and pollinator habitats, enhancing water quality, and reducing water and maintenance needs.

Hoyle says the first thing superintendents should do when establishing native and naturalized areas is to set expectations about their purpose.

“Are superintendents trying to decrease their budgets? Minimize mowing? Minimize labor? Reduce water use? Enhance aesthetics? Improve pliability?” Hoyle asks. “Have that plan and understand the main goal of these areas.”

A superintendent’s next step is to have an understanding of the diversity of native plants in their region and how they grow. When establishing native areas, using the right equipment and methodology is crucial, Hoyle says, and there are different mechanical and chemical options available. Superintendents can reach out to local universities or national organizations for guidance. Product distributors, territory managers and other superintends are also useful sources of information.

“You have to know what species work best in your area and how they grow,” Hoyle said. “These plants can have different lifecycles and can be tough to establish, so some knowledge and training is important.”

A strong weed control plan is another important step to ensuring successful native and naturalized areas. Hoyle says these areas are especially susceptible to weeds during establishment when native plants may not grow as aggressively as the weeds around them. Up until recently, superintendents had to rely on a mixture of standard herbicides to control weeds in natural areas, but now there are new products designed specifically for this purpose.

Photo: Corteva Agriscience

Photo: Corteva Agriscience

One example, NativeKlean herbicide, a postemergence herbicide from Corteva Agriscience, is specially designed for native and naturalized areas, and provides a low-maintenance solution for consistent control of more than 100 invasive and noxious broadleaf weeds. One application each season provides long-lasting control, using a combination of the active ingredients aminopyralid and 2,4-D amine. NativeKlean offers a wide application window and can be applied in spring or fall, can be used up to water’s edge, is rainfast within two hours, and does not require supplemental irrigation.

“Utilizing these research-based products designed for these areas gives superintendents a one-stop solution that can help save time and labor and give more time back to their days,” Hoyle said. “These solutions are invaluable.”

Hoyle says having a plan and being proactive instead of reactive is important to properly maintain native areas. As with any weed control program, environmental stewardship is important – Hoyle reminds superintendents to always read and follow product label directions.

“Many times, native and naturalized areas are considered an afterthought, as the focus may be on other areas of the course,” Hoyle said. “Having a proactive approach will offer a more efficient strategy to having quality native areas.”

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