Cheap putting green mower. How to Make a Putting Green

Step-By-Step Guide for Getting a Golf Course Lawn

A beautifully-striped lawn mowed tight like a golf course fairway. This describes the dream of most lawn care fanatics that want their home lawn to look like a golf course. We’ll outline the process you can follow to create the lawn you see above.

It’s taken several years of blood, sweat, and fertilizer to get the lawn to this point. Although it looks pretty good, we’re always looking for ways to improve this golf course lawn. This guide, combined with a consistent approach, will have your lawn looking like a golf course before you know it.

We aim to show you how to reduce the time to make your lawn look like a golf course from several years to just four months.

The lawn started as Tifway 419. It’s the cultivar most commonly installed by contractors in my area. Over the past few years, we’ve overseeded the lawn with Arden 15 Bermuda to get a darker color while reducing water and fertilization requirements. In the photo above, the lawn is mowed at 0.75”.

Top Dressing Your Lawn

For your lawn to look like a golf course, it first has to be smooth like a golf course. Despite how flat your lawn may look to the naked eye, once you start mowing it lower, all the bumps, dips, and weird undulations will show themselves. To overcome this challenge, you’ll need to topdress your lawn.

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Top dressing is applying a layer of sand to the turf to smooth out the uneven surface. There are several top dressing types, from primarily organic material to pure playground sand. We used a 70/30 blend of river sand and organic material on this lawn. This has the advantage of leveling the turf while adding organic material to the soil. The best material we’ve used for lawn leveling is the Soil³ leveling mix.

A pure organic mix will eventually break down, bringing you back close to where you started. While you should apply enough top dressing mix to reduce the low areas, be careful not to over-apply. The grass tips should still be exposed, allowing them to receive sunlight for faster recovery.

The process used for applying the top dressing was as follows:

  • Scalp the turf to a height below 0.5.”
  • Remove as many of the grass clippings as possible
  • Aerate the turf
  • Apply a 14-7-14 starter fertilizer (the brand doesn’t really matter)
  • Apply top dressing mix
  • Use a shop broom to work the dressing mix into the turf.

Top dressing is back-breaking work. Be sure to enlist the help of friends and family so the process goes faster. Alternatively, you can find a company that provides this service in your area.

Check out this video if you’d like to see what goes into top dressing a lawn. We show how the process works using heavy equipment and the manual process. Both methods produce great results.

If you decide to use a service, expect to pay about 5 per square foot, depending on what they do. This lawn is approximately 12,000 square feet, so the initial lawn level and top dress cost 2,425.00.

Approximately three weeks passed between top dressing and the lawn being completely green.

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Core Aeration and Verticutting

Core aeration and verticutting are methods for opening the canopy and removing thatch. We typically aerate in late March or when the grass starts coming out of dormancy.

Core aeration punches 4-6” deep holes into the turf and removes plugs of soil. This allows fresh air and moisture to enter the soil, improving water and fertilizer uptake. It also strengthens grass roots. You can rent a core aerator or pay for a service to do it for you.

Verticutting thins out the turf by removing built-up thatch. It also promotes new growth since the grass is sliced into 2–3” long sections. Each of these sections begins new growth of its own. The result is a much thicker and healthier turf in the weeks following the process. We recommend doing both aeration and verticutting at least once per season. To speed up recovery, apply fertilizer after the procedure.

Depending on your lawn size, expect to pay 60–90 for core aeration and 100–150 for verticutting.

Choose the Right Lawn Mower

After top dressing, the mower you use is the most crucial aspect of acquiring and maintaining golf course grass at home. Most lawns don’t look like a golf course because the owner is using the wrong type of mower to cut the grass.

A traditional rotary lawn mower is analogous to swinging a long knife to cut the grass. This hacking motion tends to tear the grass instead of cutting it cleanly. Traditional mowers are much more likely to scalp the turf as mowing heights become lower.

Any unevenness in the surface will cause the cutting disk to dip, creating ugly-looking semicircles in the lawn.

For the mowing heights we’re after (0.5”-1.25”), you’ll need to use a reel lawn mower. A reel mower (also called a cylinder mower) cuts the grass by trapping the grass between the reel edge and the bed knife. This process cuts the grass, similar to how scissors cut paper. They’re much friendlier to the turf since the grass isn’t injured as much during mowing.

Almost all reel lawn mowers can also install a front roller that neatly lays the grass flat during the cutting process. This is what creates those glorious stripes we’re after.

Our current reel lawn mower is a Toro Greensmaster 1600. It is a golf course lawn mower that cuts tee boxes and approaches. If you’re searching for the best reel mower out there, it’s tough to beat the Toro Greensmaster 1600. To find one at a good price, search Google for Toro Greensmaster 1600 or Toro GM1600.

A pre-owned Greensmaster in good condition will cost between 1,500-3,500. A Toro Greensmaster priced in the 3,500 range will typically have lower hours (under 500) and will arrive freshly serviced. That way, you’re ready to go for an entire mowing season. Local auctions or one of the online marketplaces are good sources for finding these reel mowers for sale.

Another option is to find out which company your local golf course leases its reel mowers from. These places will often have off-lease reel mowers for sale at attractive prices. A bonus is that you start a relationship with the company that will likely service and/or repair your reel lawn mower. Regardless of where you get yours, a powered reel mower is a fantastic bit of kit that will produce the best possible cut.

If the price of a powered reel mower is intimidating, you can always go with a manual push reel mower. The Scotts push reel lawn mower produces an excellent cut. There are also good push reel mower options from Fiskars and Earthwise, but the Scotts push reel mower is the one we have the most direct experience with.

While the Scotts will work for most lawns, the Toro Greensmaster or Tru-Cut C25 / C27 are better options. The reel turns much faster, so you obtain a pristine cut even at lower heights. It’s also less work to operate a powered reel lawn mower than a manual push mower. If you decide to buy one, be sure to get a front roller since it’s required to create those beautiful stripes.

How to Make a Putting Green

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Having your own putting green in your backyard makes it easy to practice putting in your spare time. A real putting green will require money, extensive labor, and constant attention. Even with diligence, a real green in your backyard may pale in comparison with the ones you are familiar with on the links. You’ll need to choose the right location before anything else, then you can start designing the area and using the right nutrients. With the proper tools and materials, you can incorporate a putting green into your backyard’s overall landscape and enjoy the recreational benefits.

Preparing to Make Your Green

  • Imagine the overall dimensions for your green. After you have a feel for the features of your soon-to-be putting green, take a piece of paper and sketch out the general design, including desired measurements. Then, measure and stake out your planned putting green area.
  • Keep in mind, the larger your green, the more effort it will take to maintain and the greater the cost of its installation.

Evaluate your soil. For the turf of your green to flourish, its roots will need the right kind of soil. Most soils are suitable for the roots of your grass, though the ideal soil composition will be sandy loam soil. If your soil has a high concentration of clay, your turf will suffer greatly, and may not be able to grow well enough for you to putt.

  • Holes that drain in less than 12 hours have a rate of percolation that will support plants the require well-drained soil, which includes your putting green grass.
  • Holes that drain in 12. 24 hours are suited for plants that live in heavy or clay soil.
  • Holes that drain in over 24 hours are unsuitable for most plants.
  • You can improve drainage conditions by installing drainage tiles below the surface of your green. It is advised that you place these close together, at a maximum spacing distance of no more than 10 feet (3 m).

Constructing Your Green

  • Using a tiller for the soil will loosen and aerate the soil even more, promoting even better growth and soil consistency.
  • Keep in mind that spring is the best time to plant a putting green.
  • Place filter fabric around the bottom of your trench so it reaches up the sides.
  • Lay your perforated/vented plastic pipe in the trench.
  • Fill your trench with 12 inches (30.5 cm) of coarse, clean gravel.
  • Fold the ends of your filter fabric on top of your gravel.
  • Refill the remainder of your trench with soil. [3] X Research source

Separate your green to protect against weeds. An extra degree of separation can not only keep your putting green more weed free, it can also keep your yard from getting invaded with Bentgrass or Bermuda. Using a plastic lining is a good way to protect your green from your yard and your yard from your green.

  • Keep about a yard of sand off to the side to fill in low spots, animal tracks, or any other unplanned changes to your green.

Sink your putting hole. Using your bulb planter, create a hole slightly larger than a golf ball where you think would be best for you putting hole. This is just to give you an idea of the layout of your green; you will sculpt the hole and insert the putting cup later.

Planting and Maintaining Your Green

Sow your grass seed. Mix some of your seed with your sand to offer it additional cover when you scatter it. This can be helpful if you have a bird problem, though if you notice birds feeding heavily on your seed, you may want to scatter extra. In principle, a pound of seed should cover about 2,000 square feet, though there will be some variance depending on the kind of grass on which you decide.

  • Different types of grass will also have ideal times at which you should apply fertilizer. Research this information as well to see best results in your grass growth.
  • Syringing is where you lightly water turf to cool off your turf canopy and prevent wilt.
  • If no complications arise, your turf should germinate in 10 days.
  • Mow the putting green often. By cutting your grass 3 or 4 times per week, it will maintain a height of around ¼. a perfect putting height. [7] X Research source
  • You should also look into special fertilizer formulated for your type of grass and/or putting greens. Many companies have special blends of fertilizer. You’ll need to research for yourself to find what works best for your situation.
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Keep your green from wilting. At the first sign of dryness you should water your green to prevent it from sun damage. Apply water to the putting green during the early morning hours, such as between 5 and 7 a.m.

Plant your flag. To complete the aesthetic, you can take the component flag that came with your putting cup and insert it into your cup. This is a good way of checking to see if your cup has been placed in the hole flush with the ground. An unlevel cup might mean your ball bounces out of the hole more frequently than it should.

Community QA

The more the better. Typical consumer mowers have 5 blades, which will work, but you will have to make more passes to get all the grass blades cut. This will cause more trauma to your turf. I suggest you get at least a 7 blade mower.

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How long does it take from the time I seed it to be ready to putt on and where can I purchase the seed?

Purchase rolled sod that you can roll onto the area to be used as a putting green. Grass seed often has a lot of weed seed mixed in with it. If you do choose to use grass seed, keep it moist and covered until it sprouts, then spread more seed until it sprouts again. Once the area is covered in grass, maintain it by mowing it short and use weed killer. Fill in any open areas with more seed and repeat. It should be ready for putting in three weeks at the most.

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No, since your grass will likely die. Your work would also probably result in issues like unevenness or bumpiness, which would be bad for a putting green.

Thanks! We’re glad this was helpful. Thank you for your feedback. As a small thank you, we’d like to offer you a 30 gift card (valid at Use it to try out great new products and services nationwide without paying full price—wine, food delivery, clothing and more. Enjoy! Claim Your Gift If wikiHow has helped you, please consider a small contribution to support us in helping more readers like you. We’re committed to providing the world with free how-to resources, and even 1 helps us in our mission. Support wikiHow

How to make your own backyard putting green in just 8 steps

PGA Tour pro Marc Leishman has mastered the art of backyard practice green care.

Ed. note: Welcome to Super Secrets, a new series in which we’re picking the brains of the game’s leading superintendents. By illuminating how course maintenance crews ply their trades, we’re hopeful we can not only give you a deeper appreciation for the important, innovative work they do but also provide you with maintenance tips that you can apply to your own little patch of paradise. Happy gardening!

To live the high-flying lifestyle of a top Tour pro, you could do a few things.

You could lease a private jet, hire a swing guru, a traveling physiotherapist, a sports psychologist and a personal chef.

Or you could acquire something really cool, like your own home putting green. Any number of companies can install one for you, using low-maintenance artificial turf. But if you’ve got a green thumb and a bit of gumption, there’s no reason you can’t take it a step farther and build a real-grass practice setup on your own. We’re not saying it’s easy; but it’s within reach.

Craig Werline, the superintendent at FireRock Country Club in Fountain Hill, Ariz., recently oversaw construction of the club’s new practice green and short game complex, a job he handled entirely in-house. So he knows the ins and outs of DIY golf projects. Here’s his overview of what you’ll need to do.

Select a Site

No surprise here. If you want a putting green, you’ll need a place to put it. It doesn’t have to be an enormous plot of land — around 1,000 square feet is a manageable size that will still give you plenty of room to roll your rock — but it should be in a place that gets a reasonable amount of sunlight and doesn’t feature any severely steep slopes. “I don’t recommend trying to build one of these things into the side of a hill,” Werline says.

Start Digging

You don’t need to go extremely deep. Around 10 inches will do. You’re basically gouging out what amounts to a shallow bathtub (a cake pan is another way to picture it) that covers the entire footprint of your green. You’ll be filling it in with sand (and a few others things) before you cover it with grass.

Add Some Contour

You’re not trying to replicate the greens at Augusta. But you do want your putting surface to have a little lilt. If the ground doesn’t have any natural contours, you’ll need to add them, and now’s the time. You can, in theory, do this job by hand, adding humps and bumps to the terrain, but that can be tough sledding, especially if you’re dealing with a hard and rocky site. An easier way to go is to rent a mini-excavator (most Home Depots have them) and channel your inner-green shaper as you craft a surface with some interesting breaks. Just be careful not to make those breaks too goofy; you want a pinnable putting surface, after all. Use a level, Werline says, and don’t create anything more severe than a slope of 2.5 percent.

Install Proper Drainage

Without it, you’ll wind up with a soft and spongy green, prone to disease and no fun to putt on. Four-inch perforated drainage pipe is the industry standard. Though there’s no set rule for exactly where to put it, Werline suggests installing drainage in a herringbone pattern, with a main pipe running through the center of the green and arteries sprouting off it to the sides. You’ll dig a trench, lay the piping in that trench, then cover the piping with pea gravel (some people add a layer of gravel underneath the pipe as well, to ensure that the bottom of the trench is smooth and running consistently downhill). “Basically, you just want to make sure you get that excess water running away from your green,” Werline says.

Cap it with Sand

And not just any sand. Golf course sand. Sand that drains. Sand that meets United States Golf Association specifications. Any self-respecting home improvement store should be able to provide you with it.

Putting Green at Home

Seed it or Sod It

You could go either way. Sodding is easier in the short run. But in the long term, Werline says, seeding will likely give you better quality turf. What grass varietal you plant will depend largely on where you live; different strains do better in different climates. Consult with a lawn care expert when making a selection. Growing in a green requires care and attention. You’ll need to fertilize, and water regularly. After about eight weeks, Werline says, you should have something you can putt on, though three to four months is a more realistic timeline to get your green in tip-top shape.

The Final Touches

Now that you’ve got a green, you’ll want to cut some cups. Buy a hole-puncher (they’re available new and used online, though Werline says it’s worth asking your local golf course to see if they’ll sell you an old one; on golf courses, the standard cup depth is seven inches, but putting greens often have shallower cups). How often you move the holes is up to you, though you’ll probably want to switch them up every few days to keep the edges sharp. Mowing is another matter altogether, and that rusty push mower you use to cut your lawn won’t do the trick. You’ll need one that’s specially designed for mowing greens (it doesn’t hurt to have a roller, too, if you want to get your green running nice and smooth and slick). A common height for greens is 1/8-inch; 1/4-inch around the edges will give you a collar. Feel free to grow rough if you want that, too. Two inches. Four inches. It’s your choice. Mow according to how you want that turf to look and play.

The Long Haul

Congratulations. You’ve got yourself a practice setup. But you’re not done. You’re only just beginning. “You’re not just building it, you’re caring for it,” Werline says. “This is one of those projects that never stops.”

Walking Greens Mower vs Riding Greens Mower: Selecting the Right Mower for your Golf Course

Whether it’s time to purchase a new piece of equipment or you’re looking for ways to maintain the course more efficiently, a question that often comes up for golf course superintendents is, “Walking greens mower vs riding greens mower: which is best for me?”

At face value, it seems like a simple enough question to answer. Riding greens mowers are faster, take less effort to operate, and can cover more distance in a day.

Back Yard DIY Putting Green: Everything You Need to Know!!

It’s not that simple, however. There are many factors to consider, as walking mowers and riding mowers are different in many ways. They also produce different results, which can be make-or-break for some superintendents.

Here’s a closer look at the key differences between walking and riding mowers.

Purchase and Maintenance Costs

One mistake people make is solely considering the initial cost of a mower. However, the lifetime cost of maintaining a machine can inform your decision. Especially when it comes to how you choose to use.

Costs of Walking Greens Mowers

The average cost of a good pre-owned walking greens mower is around 4,000. That’s how much you’d expect to pay for a used Toro GR 1600, for example.

There are some maintenance costs to factor in. The average annual cost for maintaining a mid-range walking greens mower is around 150 per year.

Costs of Riding Greens Mowers

Riding greens mowers come in various sizes, and their vary a great deal too. To give you an idea, for what we would call a “middle of the road” mower, like a used Toro Tri-plex, you can expect to pay around 15,500 for a used one.

Then there are the maintenance costs. The average cost of maintaining a riding mower is around 300 per year.

It isn’t easy to work out which option is strictly the least expensive. If you have the manpower to use several walking mowers, it may be the most cost-effective option.

However, some courses find investing in a riding mower works out less expensive in the long term to the time saved.

Speed and Man Power

Are some of your main concerns speed and person power? See the difference between riding and walking greens mowers and what that can mean for your workforce.

Man Power and Speed of Using Walking Greens Mowers

Walking greens mowers take considerably longer to cover a large area than riding mowers. Some 18 hole courses will have as many as 6 employees using walking mowers to cover 120,000 square feet in a few of hours.

There is also the physical output to consider. Obviously, it takes a lot more effort to walk behind a walking mower than it does sitting on a ride-along.

Man Power and Speed of Using Riding Greens Mowers

Riding mowers, for those who have not used one before, operate exactly how they sound. An engine and hydraulics power them, and the user rides along.

They vary in speed, but on average, riding mowers are considerably faster than walking mowers. This comes with a higher price tag, and as I’ll explain next, some people think you can’t achieve as good of a cut.

If speed and keeping employee numbers to a minimum is important to you as a golf course superintendent, you should consider riding mowers.

Quality of Cut and Performance

All turf managers should consider the quality of cut. As it is said in the golf course industry, the putting greens are what drive new and existing business. The quality of cut and performance of the putting greens mower, directly effect the putting green surface.

Quality of Walking Greens Mowers

This is where it really gets complicated – and personal. Some superintendents swear by walking mowers as the most precise and versatile option to achieve their ideal cuts. Others beg to differ.

The issue is that the quality of the cut is largely related to the quality of the mower. With ranging from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars, you often get what you pay for.

Some large golf courses only use walking mowers, even though they could afford riding mowers if needed. This is because they can achieve the best cut with walking mowers, and that’s the most important factor at the end of the day.

Quality of Riding Greens Mowers

You can achieve a very desirable and close cut with riding mowers. However, it’s widely thought that you can’t achieve sharp contours and perfect uniform striping without investing in a high-end riding mower.

Without trying both and knowing which models you’re interested in, it’s hard to tell you which type of mower will give you the best results.

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That said, with all things equal, we think we’d have to give a quality walking mower the edge. This is because overall, you do have a little more control over the precise cutting height on a walker.

Walking Greens Mower vs Riding Greens Mower: Which Is Best for You?

After reading the above, you may be more confused than before – and we can’t blame you. It’s not an easy question to answer on your behalf, which largely depends on the mower.

As a general rule of thumb, we would suggest that unless you absolutely have to use riding mowers due to time constraints, at least start with walking mowers.

Walking mowers are better on clean-up passes and for dealing with intercut cuts or repairing turf. You will almost certainly need one as part of your collection of equipment anyway.

There are some added benefits, too; it’s easier to train people to use walking mowers, there is no chance of oil leaks spoiling your turf, and should they malfunction on a green, they’re easier to move.

With all of that in mind, lots of golf course superintendents are perfectly happy with their greens’ look and feel when using riding mowers.

They’re able to achieve the perfect look and feel at a lower cost, with fewer man-hours, and in a quicker time. The added convenience of a riding mowers speed can make maintaining greens a faster and easier experience during growing seasons than ever.

Maybe it really does come down to personal preference. As well as factors such as budget and the condition and size of your greens.

If you’re on the fence, the best thing we can suggest is that you rent one of each type to test them for yourself.

We covered some of the benefits of renting large scale cultivation equipment in this post if you’re interested in learning more about it.