This is the DECEMBER installment of Horticulture Week's month-by-month guide to essential maintenance and management tasks for turf and sports facilities such as bowling greens, cricket pitches, football pitches, rugby pitches, golf, lawns and other recreational and fine turf.

All turf areas
Check for disease activity and treat appropriately
Mow less frequently and raise mowing height
Remove dews and debris
Keep off when conditions are frosty

Winter games pitches
Divot repairs remain key this month
Inspect goal posts before each game
Fork and sand high-wear areas as necessary
Slit tine when there is no risk of smearing
Brush or harrow when conditions permit
Overmark as necessary
Mow regularly to 35mm for football and 50mm for rugby

Mow greens with hand mower to reduce wear
Aerate greens with slit tines
Make sure artificial mats are secure
Fairway divoting and repairs will be ongoing
Remove fallen leaves and debris from greens and tees
Rope off damage-prone areas and erect explanatory signs
Start tee extensions
Start bunker renovations
Mow greens to 8mm, tees to 12mm and fairways to 18mm
Monitor areas prone to waterlogging to plan future drainage needs
Service machinery
Prepare maintenance schedule and budget for next year

Use drag brush daily to keep surface dry, blades erect and remove worm casts
Aerate with solid tines at 75 to 100mm or with slit or chisel tines depending on weather
Watch for fusarium during mild spells and control
Clean ditches
Finish bank repairs
Mow to 12mm
Prepare maintenance schedule and budget for next year

Use drag brush daily or at least every other day to keep surface dry, blades erect and remove worm casts
Aerate when conditions are good
Mow square to 25mm
Mow outfield to 25mm
Maintain perimeter fencing

Top off at 10-12mm for ornamental, 18mm for general and 50mm for amenity when necessary and conditions are suitable
Remove leaves and debris
Repair edges and uneven areas

*Jobs should only be undertaken when ground and weather conditions are suitable and will vary according to location and may vary significantly from year to year. And remember that while the year nicely divides into 12 months, activities often overlap.

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