Be honest here, haven’t you always been just a wee bit fascinated with a greens aerification plug? I’m not talking about some lame midsummer brittle little thing that falls apart when you grab it. No, I’m referring to one of those spring or autumn thick, long, slightly damp 3-inchers. The ones you can hold from the bentgrass blades and shake them madly back and forth, their roots dangling from the bottom like the tentacles of some great beast.
OK, maybe I’ve seen a few too many sci-fi movies lately, but you know what I’m talking about. There’s just something about a thick, healthy greens plug that grabs your attention.
As captivating as they are by themselves, they’re even more entrancing when lying gracefully upon a greens surface with a few thousand of their closest friends huddled nearby.
They’re like a farmer’s bumper crop ready to go to market. But what do we do with them exactly? They don’t go to market, of course, but that doesn’t mean the little buggers don’t have some value. Anyone who has worked on a golf course knows the value of aerification plugs. Often trying to decide just how you want to put them to use is the hard part. So many choices.
Don’t believe me? Ha! Seems like a great time to list the “Top 10 Uses For Aerification Plugs.” And you wondered where I was going with this – ye of little faith.
Before I go through the list, let me make the following statement in regards to the various types of aerification plugs. My personal favorite plug is not a greens plug at all, but a tee plug. This is simply a product of the type of grass we have at my golf course.
The ryegrass plugs (from our tees) tend to serve a more multifunctional afterlife once harvested. Our Poa green plugs, although still useful, often retain the “greens” characteristics that they’ve become accustomed to over the years (including stunted vertical growth). This makes them not the most desirable plug for adding to a stand of fairway or rough turf.
But alas, for argument’s sake, let’s consider all plugs equal.
You know what I’m talking about here. Those mysterious holes that seem to crop up from time to time in the rough. The ones the rough mower keeps finding over and over. Perhaps the real question here is: Where do they come from? Kind of freaky.
Restocking your nursery
I like to keep a few nurseries going at all times. One at greens height, one at collars and one at tee/fairway. Whenever one of these needs some renovation there’s no better source than some plugs with just a dash of seeds sprinkled on top for added flavor.
Certainly not the most creative use of the little guys, but still a darn nice addition to any compost pile.
Your (or someone else’s) backyard
This is my favorite use of the aerification plugs. Especially handy for those of us who have dogs. My small fenced-in backyard takes a beating every winter from the random rompings of my Aussie/border collie. Nothing brings the yard back quicker than plugs sprinkled with some seed.
Filling fairway divots
OK, I’ve never actually done this, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. It’s officially on my to-do list.
Just this past winter we built a couple new tees. We took our sod for the surface of the new tees from the beginning of a fairway we had planned on shortening. The springtime aerification plugs made quick work of repairing the fairway.
I mentioned how we replaced the sod we used for the tee surface with plugs. An alternative method would have been using the plugs for the new tee surface itself, which also works great. Just depends on how fast you want that new tee to be playable.
Soil and tissue samples
Great time-saver when you’re planning to send in your samples anyway.
If you happen to clear as many trees as we do every winter (our alders are reaching the end of their life cycle) you need something to fill those holes. Can you guess what I’m suggesting?
As I reach number 10 on my top 10 list, I realize there are really only nine things you can do with aerification plugs. But top nine just doesn’t have the right sound to it, does it?