Archive for the ‘maintenance’ Category

Mowing sports pitches at this time

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Such a basic task and yet so many get it wrong – often due to budget and/or ignorance.

At a time when the vigour and density of the grass cover is being encouraged in preparation for the winter season ahead, getting it wrong can lead to a major setback. After the unprecedented rains, grass is growing rapidly and the main failing is to bring down the height too much in a single cut. With the present temperatures this can lead to disaster. The shock can result in severe set-back to the cover – possibly losing cover in parts.

The choice of mower is not as important as the frequency that mowing is undertaken and the need to alter the direction of mowing regularly. The general tendency is to mow weekly or two-weekly. With rapid growth after rains or fertilisation, mowing weekly is just not enough. A single mowing should not remove more than one third of the height of the grass plant and if this is ensured there should not be significant cuttings left after the operation. Generating surplus grass cuttings on the surface can promote fungal disease and die-back leaving troublesome bare patches. Allowing excess cuttings to accumulate and be dispersed by mowing only builds up the organic matter in the surface increasing surface drainage problems and restricting healthy growth.

The cutting height desired varies for different sports. The preferable height for football is now between 25mm and 35mm – the same as desired for cricket. Height for rugby is nearer 40mm to 50mm instead of earlier preferences of 75mm. However, at this time with possibly six weeks of hot weather to come it is wise to raise the height of the cut to overcome the stress arising out of the high temperatures.

Fertilisation after the rains

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

With the recent prolonged rain, nitrogen and potassium can be readily leached beyond the root depth. Ensuring nutrient levels are adequate at the onset of the football/rugby season becomes logical if there are to be high demands of the pitch . Consideration should also be given to applications of controlled release formulations which can extend nutrient availability for three to five months. Applying fertiliser in this way ensures a steady availability of nutrients when conditions for their uptake are most suitable.

Preparation for the summer season

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

To start, the chronic shortage of water storage in the south east means that drought restrictions could warrant serious consideration in irrigation programmes involving a mains water supply. All applications dependant on adequate soil moisture content must be re-assessed with alternatives in mind.

Creating a critical path programme incorporating securing of materials and specialised equipment should now be a priority. With our changeable weather the ability to be flexible must also remain foremost in our planning.

Cutting maintenance budget on playing fields

Monday, May 30th, 2011

This action can be very short-sighted. After heavy use, often in wet conditions, grass cover has been lost in many areas. If acceptable conditions are expected in the following season there is the need to re-level goal mouths, de-compact the surface, remove weeds, over-seed and fertilize. Where athletic events are held, creating an even surface and safe long jump pits becomes vital.

Avoiding the end of season renovation programme can lead to unsafe playing conditions in the following season. Uneven surfaces become a hazard and if left untreated remaining depressions in the playing areas will collect water after rain forming puddles that will become muddy and deteriorate in the winter months. They will become slippery and unsafe.

Apart from the need for safety, poor playing conditions hardly attract youngsters to play.