Build a Putting Green: How to Verticut the Grass

What You'll Need
Triplex mower with verticut attachment

When you want to build a putting green, you’ll need to learn a great deal about grass and sod. One of the things you’ll learn about is verticutting, which isn’t something you’d do on a normal lawn. It’s a type of mowing that instead of cutting the grass horizontally, cuts it vertically. It also improves the quality of the putting green.

Step 1 - Understand the Need for Verticutting

When we think of cutting grass, we generally think of lowering its height. However, there’s also lateral growth on grass, and verticutting trims that. Stolons on each blade of grass grow outward. When you remove the outward growth, you encourage vertical growth. You want vertical growth on a putting green, since it makes the green more dense. The denseness, in turn, will help the speed of the green without cutting it incredibly short.

When you verticut you’re making the putting green healthier, as you make it easier for water to penetrate the turf and for air to move around the blades of grass.

Step 2 - Know What to Avoid

When you build a putting green, you need to know what not to do as much as you need to know what you ought to do. With verticutting there are times, both of the year and of the day, when you shouldn’t cut. Don’t cut too early. The dew should have burned off before you start. Also, don’t cut in months when it’s too hot, or you’ll simply end up damaging the turf.

Similarly, how often you verticut depends on the type of turf you use when you build a putting green. With dwarf grass, every other week is correct. If you use an ultra-dwarf grass, you’ll verticut far less often. It’s important that you understand grasses well when you build a putting green.

Step 3 - Cut the Grass

For verticutting you need to be exact because the blades move down into the earth. You need to put the verticut blade on your triplex mower. You can rent a verticutter, although if you’re doing this job regularly, that will become expensive.

The most important thing is that you adjust the blades carefully. You’ll be cutting into the ground to break up any thatch, but you want to be sure that the furrows you make are no more than 1/4 inch deep. A better depth is 1/16 inch. You need to run your mower with the run of the grass. Go slowly and keep checking that you’re not cutting too deeply, especially on sloping greens. Going backward and forward, cover the entire green. Don’t crosscut.

Step 4 - Rake the Green

Although it’s not strictly necessary, you can aid the thatching process by raking the putting green very lightly after you verticut. Use a fine rake and don’t press down. You don’t need to cover the green too thoroughly, just enough to ensure the air can circulate between the grass blades well.