Pitch renovation

By Grassgroup, May 7, 2015 3:01 pm

Scarifying

Spiking

Fertilising

Seeding

Topdressing

 

 

 

 

As well as these tasks you will also need to at some stage to think about weed control.  At some stage you will need to consider where your weed killing programme fits into the picture of your pitch renovations.

If the list above is taken as a sequence of events, then you won’t go far wrong with your renovation, though you may need to give some further attention to goal mouth and centre spot areas which will be covered later.

Scarifying: however you achieve it, you will need to clean out the surface, removing the remnants of old divots etc. and to get rid of the build-up of dead organic matter accumulated over the winter months. Thatch can build up particularly on the wings of the pitch, away from the more intensively played areas in the centre and goal mouth areas. Before carrying out this task you will need to reduce the height of cut. This will not only help your grass to establish better, but will help your machinery to carry out the work without struggling the TM System from ATT fitted with Thatchmaster cassettes can give you a really good finish and remove matter without too much disturbance.

 

 

 

 

 

A tractor drawn Trilo scarifier with either a three point linkage or a large vacuum collection model, are probably the most traditional methods, and most likely within the means of most clubs and schools, allowing the job to be completed in one operation. This method can be advantageous as the scarifying tines can leave a grooved surface, ideal for ensuring over sown grass seed is buried just beneath the soil surface and in contact with the soil. Whichever method you use, you will be aiming to achieve a surface that is short and clean with a finished mown height of 13mm to 20mm that will give your grass seedlings time to grow and establish without competing too much from the existing grasses.

Fraise Mowing with the GKB Combinator is an operation that is becoming popular to those that can afford it (mostly Premiership clubs fall into this bracket). Topping is extremely efficient at removing the top organic layer of the pitch however; you will effectively be starting again with a newly sown surface so your seeding rates will need to be higher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relieving compaction is important, and spiking as deeply as possible is required. There are several ways this can be achieved and to a depth of 250 – 300mm. Pay particular attention to your goalmouth and centre spot areas, and don’t forget too the off pitch areas where your linesmen and spectators stand.

Fertilising: A good pre-seeding fertiliser, typically one low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus and potash, will provide the young seedling with the essential nutrients to root quickly and to resist disease. This should be worked into the surface, brushed or drag matted in. Water in if rain is not expected.

Seeding: Obtain a good quality rye grass seed mixture for your renovation. Fresh seed is important as old seed will not germinate as greatly or as well as new. Look at the STRI list for the range of recommended cultivars, listed by fineness of cut, resistance to disease etc. and choose a mixture with the characteristics suited to your needs and situation.

The roller can be lowered on the final run to firm the surface and ensure good soil to seed contact. Alternatively the use of seed drills will help to bury the seed into the surface and at a depth where it won’t be subject to drying out. This method will produce a linear seeding pattern and it is best to complete two passes or more at a slight angle to the first.

Topdressing: Chosen wisely for compatibility with your current root zone is an essential ingredient to ensuring good surface levels. If you employ the services of an agronomist then he will have advised you of the best topdressing for your situation. This may typically have been a medium to fine sand and of a quantity of 60 to 80 tons per pitch.

Low areas in the pitch can be concentrated on. Minor dips and hollows that collect water, noted during the winter, can be further spiked. A slightly heavier topdressing spread than the surrounding area will help to raise these areas, though be careful to ensure the topdressing is worked into the holes and into the base of the sward. The topdressing should not be thick and left covering the top of the grass, as this will only lead to a weakened sward. Repeat the operation if necessary and check it with a straight edge.

Goalmouth and centre spot areas: At this time of year how much grass is still around in these areas depends on a number of factors, and is a combination of the condition of the sward at the start of the season, number of games played, the conditions that they were played in and finally the adopted post match and winter maintenance regimes. Suffice to say that the wear can range from minimal with some pitches sustaining little loss of grass in the goalmouth area to an area or strip if you like running the whole length of the pitch completely devoid of grass cover.

Some goalmouth areas may even have lost both grass cover and soil, where the soil has migrated out of the area. In these areas it is important that they receive more concentrated effort to relieve compaction and to bring the surface levels back, by importing and incorporating new material compatible to your native soil or by using something like the GKB Cultirol to break up and level the soil.

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