I hope you find my 4 ways to maintain a renovated football pitch helpful.
Having a renovation undertaken on football pitches has gradually gone from being a luxury to a regular occurrence with a lot of lower league football clubs. With that increase the need for renovations comes the need to be able to maintain the process after the initial work has finished.
Renovations don’t just last the 2-3 days when sand and seed is applied, quite often the process and the following month or two are the most important period to a successful renovation. So, here’s how you make sure the hard work is worthwhile.
Water is a commodity to the vast number of amateur clubs as well as some semi professional clubs too, this due to the amount and subsequent cost the pitch would require.
I can’t stress this enough, any amount of water during a period when there is no rain falling from the sky is better than nothing at all.
Be it using some kind of water vessel and irrigating the boxes in an evening after a hot day or attaching a hose and sprinkler/s to the mains, it all makes a difference.
The grass seed you laid down, like every other seed, requires water to germinate and then requires plenty of water to keep alive and grow.
Water and its cost are quite often not factored in by many clubs when undertaking a renovation, but it really must be as sometimes mother nature doesn’t always play ball. If you’re lucky to have an irrigation system in place, you’re very lucky!
HOC (Height of cut)
The cutting height is a very underrated part of the process, but is pretty important to the grass growing strong and healthy. When the grass begins to come through, many groundsmen will be tempted to get on there at the first sign of a sward appearing. Resist the urge, Let the grass go above the usual 30mm height of cut.
We want to promote growth above and below the surface from the new seed and to make sure this is healthy and as equal as possible we want to leave the plant to do its thing. Once the grass has started to reach double the usual HOC we want to look at cutting at say 45-50mm.
Cutting regular and a good hoc will help encourage the grass to continue to grow, promote a thicker sward whilst not stressing the new grass leaf.
Cutting a new sward down straight to match height can have detrimental impact to the rate, healthiness and development of the grass leaf.
After a renovation it is a must that all cutting is done initially with a rotary mower, using a cylinder mower will rip the new seedlings and their roots out of the ground ruining your renovation work.
A rotary mower, however cuts from above allowing for the grass to get a hair cut without it being plucked from the soil profile, which can happen with a cylinder.
I would personally look at the first post-renovation fertiliser application somewhere in the next one and half to two months that follow the initial renovation work.
During the renovation your seed may have been pre-treated and you can also apply a pre-seed application, both of these options will give the seed that initial boost.
Once we see the grass growing, we want to then begin to encourage a healthy growth below the surface as well and we can do this by applying a feed. I would highly recommend the Marathon summer sport fertiliser (16–4-8 +2%mg+0.5fe).
Fertilisers will have a benefit above the surface by promoting further even growth, a thicker sward, a dark green colour to your grass leaf and further development of the single leaf grass into a two-leaf plant.
Fertiliser will also work below the surface it will encourage the roots to dig deeper and develop their own strong root system quickly, these are the keys to a healthy sward.
An easy thing to overlook, however, grooming is essential to good growth after a renovation. A mixture of brushing and light spiking to break up the top layer is a great way to maintain a new growth that is fully germinated from seed and roughly four weeks out from the renovation itself.
Although it’s important that nobody and nothing walks on the renovated area within that four week growing period, after that it is the ideal time to get yourself and your sward used to regular good practices.
As always, brushing is very underrated as a practice but it is a very important tool. Groundsman with a multitool such as a Sisis Quadraplay or its alternative should be using this every time they are at their pitch and certain prior to every cut.
If you’re not fortunate enough to have a quadraplay, consider buying a long drag behind brush, these aren’t usually that costly and most amateur set ups would be able to afford one. With the drag behind brush I would apply an even weight to the top of it to ensure it doesn’t bounce when you drag it along, we want it to stay flat in the grass sward for maximum effect.
If the long drag brush is also not an option, why not consider attaching a brush to the front of a hand mower, this can also be cheap if done yourself and can add that vital benefit as you cut.
I hope the above notes from my experience of ways to maintain a renovated football pitch will help and if you have any of your own tips and advice, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Alex Fitzgerald (Groundsman)
Brian and team
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