A Guide to Vertidraining a Cricket Square/Table
A guide to vertidraining (deep spiking) a cricket square is a blog which answers questions such as what are the benefits of deep spiking a cricket square and what soil conditions are suitable also many other most asked questions from groundsmen.
Take a look at the poll below, showing how many groundsmen/groundspersons have tried deep spiking on their cricket square, when we refer to deep spiking that’s any aeration that is deeper than 4/5 inches most often carried out by a pedestrian operated machine.
Poll results images
Community Poll findings summary
Ten most asked questions to put to our deep spiking contractor
What are the main benefits to deep spiking a cricket square below the depth of my inhouse spiking depth?
To ensure root development and break up the pan that has been caused by rolling
When is the best time(months) to carry out deep spiking of a cricket square and in what soil conditions?
I would say mid-November and December I wouldn’t deep spike after end of December so they could close up.
What level of heave is acceptable?
I personally wouldn’t use heave due to you don’t want to pull and lift the profile Is deep spiking a suitable option, if we have soil profile root breaks or layers? Yes, we did a deep spiking program at a club in York where it suffered from layers from over rolling, we tried to stop the lateral root movement and send them down.
What is the typical cost of deep spiking a cricket square?
It varies from club to club we’re usually £100 + vat per square (prices vary ), but we encourage say 3/4 clubs close by to get together and if they all get done in a day the price comes down.
Does deep spiking decompact/aerate a cricket square?
Yes, it lets oxygen down to the root system and let’s CO2 out plus helps with drainage.
What depth and width of tines are the ideal for deep spiking a cricket square?
We say 10mm wide tines to a depth of 8 inches we have done 19mm but that was the request of the club we were doing it for I was worried it wouldn’t close up and not sure if it did but that’s what they wanted.
Is there any chance of the tine holes, not closing up by the start of the season?
There is always a chance of anything with what you do It could be a dry winter and they open up more if it’s looking dry and no chance of frost etc you might even need to water.
If any lifting of the surface occurs, is this damaging to the soil profile?
On a cricket square you need to keep flat as possible, rolling will flatten a bit but you don’t want any ripples so need to be careful.
If the square is situated on a hard pan such as a chalk layer can that make deep aeration not possible?
A good way to test that the soil is ready and you have no deep pans and deep aeration is possible is to, push a screwdriver into the ground and it doesn’t pull the profile when you pull it out it’s ok to go. Also, if you can push it in with eases to the depth you want to deep spike to, that’s another good sign.
If a hard pan exists the machine could bounce the machine if you hit anything and dent the surface, pulling up stones or chalk damages the machine or tines. Also, this lifting or any lifting of the surface can cause root breaks, so using an experienced contractor in the right conditions is key.
Some machines you can attach fingers (turf retainers) which hold down the surface when you do it, but always be guided by an experienced contractor or peers.
To ensure the tractor and deep spiker doesn’t rut the square, up to what size tractors can be used and what are the key elements to ensure rutting doesn’t occur?
Most contractor’s or groundsmen used 33- 66 hp tractors and also its key to ensure the spiker is wider than the tractor and we usually drop the tyre pressure on the tractor to ensure no ruts are left.
Are there any indictors the ground conditions are wrong?
As l said above if the machine is jumping around and lifting the surface its not a good sign and l would also say if water is being pushed along by the rollers it is too wet to proceed.
Nicks Top Tips
Run the machine for five minutes on the outfield this takes any rust and shines up the tines and stops the loam etc sticking and pulling. Remember you may feel you need to do it early as other clubs have done theirs but timing is essential and every club/square if different It needs to be soft if you can push a screwdriver into the ground and it doesn’t pull the profile when you pull it out if ok to go.
Nick Hatfield (Sports Turf Services York)
Summary of Questions by BS
Like a lot of groundsmen/Groundspersons l have been reluctant to have my square deep spiked for fear the tractor would leave ruts, l feel much better now with the information Nick has provided. My own thought is deep spiking and the benefits of getting the roots down to where my pedestrian spiker can’t reach can only be a good thing and something l am certainly more confident about now after Nicks answers.
Three key points
Know the depth of any hard pans, this way you will know if deep spiking is even possible.
Deep spiking has to be done in the correct soil conditions, if in doubt don’t do it or wait till the soil is in the correct state.
If you have a square with lots of layer/root breaks and are concerned the deep spiking may lift these then maybe look into deep drill aeration. If in any doubt take advice from your local pitch advisor who can be found via your local cricket board.
Link to a blog on deep drill aeration – https://turfcareblog.com/deep-drill-aeration-qa-summary/
Fellow groundsmen, what is your experience of deep spiking with something like a vertidrain aerator, has it helped your square please share your experiences in the comments box below.
Link to the Nicks twitter account – https://twitter.com/nickhat75
Another excellent blog. Well done. Good advice.
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