This is the time now to consider How to Renovate a Football Pitch, in this blog we look simply at the process in terms of the three Rs. The three Rs are removal (scarify), re seed and restoring of levels (topdressing) and there’s also possibly decompaction to fit in there.
In the ideal world these works should commence 10-12 weeks prior to the start of the next season, but often this is just a rule of thumb, although should be encouraged. I have a couple of weeks, but we only have juniors and wear is minimal.
Full Pitch Renovations can include all/some of the below:
Cut the pitch down to 20-25mm, this will allow the seed more light to get through and also make levelling/brushing in topdressing easier. Even lower if possible, depending on the limitations of the machine, a shorter sward will help move around and distribute topdressing better and prevent it getting caught up.
Scarify as needed to at least 1mm below the depth of any thatch, this will also help remove and keep the weed grasses population to a minimum. Multiple directions, this depends on whether you have other sports being played while the new seed is growing in.
Overseed at around 35-50 grams a square metre, as a minimum with a winter sports specific seed mix. Disk seeder into surfaces (min 2 directions) is becoming a very commonly used technique for overseeding. A standard full-size pitch sown at 35gm sqm you would need. 9 x 20 kgs bags of seed.
Topdressing with a sport’s specific sports sand or 70/30 mix. Using pure sand will assist with infiltration rates through the soil after rain, but it will also dry out quicker, so could be an issue if you have poor irrigation. Typical range of topdressing volumes are between 60-80 tons per full size football pitch.
Aeration, in the form of deep spiking (vertidraining) as deep as the machine and depth of soil profile will allow, also allowing for under soil factors such as irrigation or drainage pipes. Hollow coring is also an option if soil exchange is a priority.
High wear areas such as goal mouths , become very highly compacted so some form of decompaction is key to re-establishing a deep and health new grass plant.
The Application of a pre seed fertiliser, something with a typical analysis of around 6-9-6 (NPK) applied via a tractor or pedestrian cyclone spreader.
· A form of decompaction should be included in the above works with extra works done on creating a tilth, using a power harrow/rotavator or even a garden fork.
· Goalmouths are likely to be completely bare, so a higher seeding rate will be required compared to the rest of the pitch, possibly turfing can be considered.
· Topdressing of the goalmouths should also receive a greater attention in terms of levelling, due to the high wear levels in goalmouths and a greater chance of being kicked out. Some groundspersons prefer to use a bit more soil in goalmouths dressings, so opt for a 50/50 sand/soil dressing, rather than straight sand.
· Work the topdressing into the pitch and create holes, by means of a drag mat or brush or soft side of a chain harrow.
Use of Germination sheets
· If you have one the use of germination sheets or debris netting, to keep some moisture in and stop birds feeding on the seed.
In the ideal world you would do the whole pitch if needed, but on my travels l have not found this to be the case. In many cases budgets only allow for the renovation of the high wear areas such as goalmouths and centre circles and leave the rest of the pitch to recover the best it can. Hopefully with the support now of the football foundation via Pitch Power on the below link, a full renovation will be possible.
Funding- You may not have to go it alone!
Pitch Power App-https://footballfoundation.org.uk/pitchpower/how-it-works
Ensure you have the ability to water the goalmouth on a regular basis to ensure the new shallow rooted seed does not die off due to heat stress/damage. Ideally you protect your investment in seed, so timing of renovations is everything so, this needs to be done in early spring when moisture by rain or irrigation is around in the soil and in the environment.
The ideal timing of renovations is May/June, past this period the weather could be too hot and dry so a poor outcome could be achieved in terms of seed germination and also establishment in time for the season ahead. For very late renovations there is the option to split your seed use, put down half now and then overseed in autumn when more moisture is present.
Things to consider
What degree of soil or sand do you want contained within your topdressing, is what you are planning to use compatible in terms of particle size with your existing soils? Any question on topdressing, take a look at the link below on topdressing.
What seed mix do you need, does your pitch sit wet or is it in a highly shaded area, if so your seed supplier may be able to assist you in seed mix selection. Take a look at this blog on 13 top seed tips – https://turfcareblog.com/13-essentials-things-to-know-about-grass-seed-prior-to-renovations/
First cut when the new plant is 35-50 mm in height, ideally using a rotary type mower with sharp blades, never removing more than a third of the leaf in any one cut. Gradually bringing the height of cut down by the start of the season to a range of 25-35mm.
Some typical costs (based on a full-size pitch-costs may vary)
Sand £30-45 a ton soil dressing
Seed £80-100 a bag
Pre seed fertiliser – £28-40 a bag
Scarification £550 2 passes
Brushing/Dragmatting in topdressing £200
How to Renovate a Football Pitch by Brian on behalf of the TurfCareBlog community.
Did you happen to see this really interesting blog, with community questions on topdressing – https://turfcareblog.com/how-to-choose-the-correct-topdressing-for-your-sports-pitch/