Football pitch drainage – is it an underground or surface proplem?

Water standing, causing ponds and consequent muddy conditions on pitches is a common problem on English clay loam soils. Invariably the problem arises from water not being able to penetrate the surface and undulations or lack of adequate gradient preventing any surface drainage. Before installing any form of drainage installation, the three initial most important concerns must be the evenness of the grade, the gradient and the control of surface or underground water gaining access to the pitch from surrounding areas. The only long-term solution to puddling is to regrade the surface and if possible create a cross-fall gradient of at least 1:70 or if possible 1:50. In confined areas within built-up surroundings this may not be feasible and in order to create adequate cross-fall gradient the alternative solution is to grade the surface to form a central camber with slopes to both sides. Graded to form a central crown players will scarcely notice the side gradients while playing up and down the pitch. Only from the touchline will the central camber be noticeable.

With the removal of surface water attention can then be given to slit drainage installation to enable the quick removal of surplus water so as to ensure the topsoil surface remains firm. To ensure satisfactory playing conditions during the winter and avoiding puddles forming, a firm surface must be retained.

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