Common Clay Court Maintenance Mistakes

Har-Tru courts – Great on the joints, superb playing surface – but require a lot of maintenance! Oftentimes, maintenance tasks on both sprinkler-irrigated, as well as subsurface-irrigated, courts are being performed incorrectly, with the wrong equipment, or at the wrong time.  This can result in the growth of algae on the court, create hard-pan surfaces, and affect the playability, as well as the attractiveness, of the courts.  We at 10-S Tennis Supply and Fast-Dry Courts are here to help!  We asked Court Maintenance Professionals from within our own company to weigh in on the most common court maintenance mistakes seen day in and day out while working on clay courts, and these answers may assist you in the struggle to maintain your courts properly!

The Problem: SPEED WHILE RAKING THE COURT

Clay courts, especially HydroCourts (subsurface-irrigated), require raking as part of a daily, weekly, and monthly court maintenance routine.  However, you do have to be careful which tools you are using, and at which speed.  Too fast with the wrong tool, and you will cause your lines to pull up over time.  Lines that are not properly nailed down can be a tripping hazard, to say the least.

The speedy solution?

Slow Down!  Just kidding – there’s more to it than that.  Some tools are angled differently than others.  This means that you have to be aware of how the tools that you are using are hitting the lines as you pass over them.  Too fast and you might cause the lines to pull up from the ground.  The angle at which you hit the lines can also make a difference.  Try driving or pulling straight over the lines rather than turning as you are going overhead – this will help them to stay safely nailed in place.  You could also consider alternating the tools which you are using, so that you aren’t hitting the lines at the same angle every day.

The Problem: WRONG TOOL AT THE WRONG TIME

One problem that HydroCourt owners are no doubt aware of is that you cannot use a soft bristle drag broom to groom your courts while they are still wet.  Hard-pan areas can be created, and algae patches can grow over time.  These court afflictions, while treatable, are best to be avoided altogether with proper maintenance, if possible.

The grooming solution?

If you must groom your courts while the clay is still wet, use a rake – such as the Court Rake or the Gator Rake, as these tools will not cause the wet clay to “gum up” on the grooming tool like the soft bristle brooms.

The Problem: OVER-WATERING OR UNDER-WATERING

One court maintenance MUST is remembering to adjust the water supply to your courts as the seasons change.  Watering your court too much during times when there is less sunlight can cause your court to not dry properly, or take longer to do so.  Watering too little leaves your court overly dry.  On sprinkler-irrigated Har-Tru courts this is especially important, as the clay will not pack as well on the court if improperly watered.  This takes away from your playing time, and will cause you to switch up your maintenance routines due to soggy or over-dry clay.

The sunshine solution:

During the winter months, water less because of less sunlight.  During the summer months, water more.  You must check and adjust your water supply throughout the year as necessary to ensure your court stays in tip-top shape!  Sometimes this is an easy task to overlook – especially in areas like South Florida with minimal season change.  If this is the case, we recommend following the time change with Daylight Savings Time – a good reminder twice a year to adjust your water supply.

The Problem: LOW AREAS ON COURT

Your court has low areas all over, and in great need of clay to fill in?  High-traffic areas, such as the areas behind the service lines, will be among the first to be worn down below the lines if new clay is not added.

The gritty solution?

Add more clay, of course!  More specifically, try to add new clay as needed, and do not let your court get to a severe level that requires resurfacing by the professionals.  When the clay is below the lines, it is time to add more!  If you add clay to the high traffic areas and around the court as necessary each month, you can keep your courts in great shape and hold off on a resurfacing project until the proper time.

The Problem: SURROUNDING VEGETATION

Most courts have beautiful plants, trees, and landscaping surrounding their fences, creating a leisure oasis. This can turn into a big problem, however, if the trees and plants surrounding the courts are causing craters in your clay surface due to the water funneling down from the leaves.

The leafy solution:

Trim those trees back to a manageable level beyond the fences!  Keeping the vegetation surrounding your court well-trimmed and maintained will help with the aesthetics, and will serve to nip any further crater-like problems right in the bud!

For more information on court maintenance, or any other court questions, please visit the resources at Fast-Dry.com, or 10-S.com!  If you need further assistance, the friendly and capable staff at 10-S Tennis Supply would be more than willing to help!  Call toll-free at 800-247-3907.  If you are located in the South Florida area and believe your court is in need of resurfacing, or would like to discuss further options, Fast-Dry Courts, Inc. would love to hear from you!  You can call toll-free at 800-432-2994.

 

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