How to Renovate a Cricket Outfield is a blog just unpacking what works could take place, such as scarification, seeding and topdressing on a mix of budgets and scenarios.
Starting Point- Assessment
Assessments of requirements and getting a feel for costs to present to your clubs can start by getting in an independent pitch advisor who can help your identity the needs of the outfield and give some rough costs to help you put together a specification of works.
Does the whole outfield need the same level of work, or just where football is played or just the run ups i.e., as a compromise just renovating the run ups if funds don’t allow for the whole outfield.
Once you have a specification, you can then get in a couple of sport turf contractors to site to tend for the work, ensuring they have the armoury of machines that can meet the spec.
Assessment can be made on thatch level, depth of soil, levels, available budget, funding options and standards required.
Aim of renovations
Remove – Thatch contained within the top of the soil profile, which will hold water in winter and dry out excessively during summer resulting in a spongy/patchy outfield.
Reseed – Depending on the aggression of scarification, but some overseeding may need to be considered in.
Topdressing – to restore levels, again depending on the aggression of scarification work and level required especially if parts of the outfield used for winter sports.
Spring- If winter sports are played on your outfield renovations works ideally need to be done, allowing for a recovery period of 4-6 weeks once seeded, in reality this is rarely the case but should be aimed for at least.
Autumn – End of the cricket season and pre the start of the football season, again 4–6-week establishment period for the new seed, if adult football maybe a little longer.
I opted for at the end of the cricket season this year, 3 weeks prior to the start of the junior football season, l was fortunate to have moisture via rain and good October temperatures, putting me and the partly newly seeded outfield in a good position.
List of Possible Task/Options
The below list can comprise of the need to do one, or multiple as budgets and or needs allow once assessed.
· Possibly an application of a selective herbicide prior to renovations
· Scarification, with collection of debris
· Hollow coring as an option, if no thatch is present and ground conditions allow
· Overseeding by means of disk or dimple seeders.
· Aeration, if ground conditions allow
· Topdressing with a sand or rootzone mix or other.
· Brushing in or topdressing, if or where required.
· Application of a pre seed fertiliser.
· Removal of debris/scarification possibly off site, if on site dumping is not permitted.
Unlikely but not unknown at club level
· Koro (planning off) of high assisting with leveling of the poor outfield levels.
Ideally yearly as at a lot of county grounds, in reality comes down to budgets and reason for needing to do it. Often it’s only considered when football pitches struggle to come back or their big resources and where the quality of the outfield is at minor counties and above.
My Experience, a budget was made available every 3–5-year max, to try and keep thatch down but this was a real challenge in achieving. At my current site a yearly budget has been put in place, to help maintain the quality of the outfield, especially important as it is also used for winter sports.
I access what it needs annually and put together the combination of task bullet points above to give me the best outcome with my available budget.
This blog may be a dream to the grassroots groundsperson, but with funding where available and working to a realistic specification there may be room to look at the options. I know of clubs at the grass roots level who just scarify lightly yearly to help keep thatch at bay.
I would say if resources are limited, always concentrate on your square first, get that right then maybe start to explore trying to improve the outfield.
Brian on behalf of the TurfCareBlog Community.
Also check out our video on topdressing on the same renovations project.