As the playing season draws to a close, groundsmen at football and rugby pitches will need to schedule some time for their end of season renovations.
If you asked ten groundsmen for their end of season renovation routine, you’d get ten different answers – it depends on the type of soil, how often the pitch has been played on etc.
At CGM Group we work at a number of football and rugby pitches throughout the East of England and Midlands, and here we’ve put together our recommended six steps to end of season pitch renovation.
Step 1 – Scarify
Scarify the pitch with a tractor pulling a quadriplay or iron bok. Travel over the pitch in four different directions, pulling out the thatch (dead grass) and moss. Scarifying is important as removing the thatch and moss will give the grass space to breathe and also can help remove moss spores that could be carrying disease and help the surface become more resistant to damages from pests and diseases.
Step 2 – Verti-drain
Next you need to Verti-drain the pitch. The machine punches holes into the ground up to a depth of 12 inches which helps decompact and aerate the soil to break up compaction therefore strengthens grass roots and improves drainage to enable a longer playing season at a consistent pitch standard.
Step 3 – Overseed
Use a disc seeder to overseed as this is set at an angle so it creates a fine channel in the ground and puts the seed in the ground rather than dropping on the surface, this means a better establishment rate.
Regarding what type of grass seed to use, we often opt for a type of seed called ‘Sports Extreme Mix’. This mix contains three different types of ryegrass dwarf perennial seed. At the same time apply a fertiliser to help promote grass growth.
Before seeding we recommend a pre-seeder fertiliser is applied, this will help give the new seed a good start to its establishment to help with a denser plant becoming established in a shorter space of time. We often recommend a pre-seeder is applied two weeks before over seeding is completed.
Step 4 – Top dressing
If you have the budget, then we would recommend applying a top dressing. The top dressing is 70% sand and 30% soil, which you should apply over the turf and then brush over. You will need between 80-100 tonnes of top dressing to cover the pitch as a minimum and the conditions need to be relatively dry as if it is too wet it will ball up like mud.
Top dressing will aid with the quality of the playing surface and help the football run true on the surface.
Step 5 – Irrigate
Check the weather forecast and if no rain is due then you need to irrigate the pitch – otherwise all your hard work will be wasted.
The grass should begin to grow in about two weeks but remember for the grass seed to germinate the temperature needs to be usually 8 degrees Celsius or over. If you have time, regular watering will help the grass to grow quicker.
Fertiliser is extremely important to ensure that the plants already in the surface thrive. At the start of the summer it is recommended a high nitrogen content fertiliser is applied to encourage the grass growth and at the end of the summer a higher potassium content at the end of the season to help with root development and therefore improving the play time on the pitches throughout the playing season.
Its often cheaper to have two fertiliser applications rather than the one over seed at the end of the season.
Step 6: Next Cut
We would suggest giving the new grass at least three to four weeks to grow until you schedule the next cut.
Hopefully you’ll now have a pitch in tip-top condition ready for the next season.