In figuring out how to build a back yard golf green, it’s all about the turf. Building your own putting green can be expensive and the turf takes constant maintenance. Get the job professionally done if you can, but for the low budget golf enthusiast, it is possible to do it yourself. You can even lay artificial turf to avoid the hassle of greens maintenance, but you will still have to build a solid base.
- Location: Clear the area for your golf green in a sunny spot in your back yard, especially if installing natural turf. Pick a breezy spot elevated above the surrounding area.
- Drainage: Strip the site down to bare soil. Till the soil lightly and level it. Construct contours in the golf green that will allow water to rapidly in all directions. There should be no low spots that collect water. This is critical.
- Soil: Add some sand if the soil in your back yard is poor or doesn’t absorb water well. Sandy loam is best and provides a good base for establishing the turf’s rootzone. If you are covering the golf green with artificial turf, adding sand and compacting the soil will give you’re a more solid base for the turf.
- Turf: Seed the prepared soil with creeping bentgrass, the recommended variety for putting greens. Call your local golf course and find out where they obtain their seed. Put about half a pound of seed per thousand square feet. Follow manufacturers directions for watering till the turf is established. If you are using artificial turf, roll out the turf and cut it to the shape you want. You should be able to lay it in one piece as most artificial turf comes in very wide rolls. If you are creating a large or unusual shape, you will want to seam the pieces on a concrete surface like your driveway rather than doing it on top of the dirt. Lay the turf over the prepared golf green and stake the edges every six feet or so with large steel spikes to hold the turf taut. Avoid driving over the artificial green with cars, golf carts or other heavy wheeled vehicles.
- Fertilizing: Apply a half pound nitrogen fertilizer to the turf on the first of May and June and a full pound in mid September and November. Artificial turf needs no fertilizer, though you may have to pull up the turf occasionally and pound flat any ruts or back fill any water tracks that may have developed.
- Watering: Turn on the sprinklers early in the morning (before 7 am) and only if the grass shows signs of drying (drought stress) . Do not overwater your golf green. Overwatering causes the turf to develop shallow roots and make it more vulnerable to disease and drought. Don’t water artificial turf unless you want weeds poking up through the turf.
- Insects: Keep your bentgrass greens as healthy as possible. A dense, green and healthy grass resists pests best. Only use pesticides if absolutely necessary. Consult your local chemical supply house. If possible, take a sample of the bugs that are infesting your grass. You shouldn’t have trouble with artificial grass unless ants or something build up under the turf. Pull back the turf and treat accordingly.
- Mowing: Mow the turf in your back yard about 3/16 to ¼ inch high at least four times a week. You will need a special mower or attachment designed for putting greens. Ordinary mowers are far to likely to scalp the turf when mowing that closely. Don’t try to mow artificial turf, no matter how drunk you might be. Apply about an eighth of an inch of screened soil to natural turf in May and September to replace lost soil and thicken the root system.
- The Hole: Buy a hole cutter and hole frame from a golf course supplier. With turf you can move the hole around to keep the green from wearing unevenly. When you move the hole, cut a plug in the new spot, move the hole frame and insert the plug in the old hole. For an artificial green cut once and don’t move the hole. If you want variety, just put in two or three permanent holes scattered around the green.
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