How to Repair a Muddy Damaged Sports Pitch post-game looks at what actions can take place to get the pitch back playable, steps aimed towards groundstaff with a mix of resources available.
What is the Problem
A muddy sports pitch, can look worse than it is but if a pitch is muddied excessively the mud can create a layer over top of the existing grass, if the grass isn’t growing or and the mud is too thick the grass will not be able to push back through resulting is a poorly grassed pitch and as a result less games being played.
Pitches become muddy because:
- Overuse with loss of grass cover
- Damage from event foot traffic
- Training on the wrong areas of the pitch
- Playing on a saturated pitch
- Heavy machinery used to maintain the pitch used in the wrong soil state
Loss of surface levels are also a concern when a pitch has been played on when it’s too soft some loss of soil structure is another concern. Playing on in these conditions is less than ideal and it can take days or weeks to recover and even when it does there could be ongoing issues till the end of the season.
Other concerns would be with the compaction created playing in such conditions, resulting in a pitch that will struggle to drain, possibly meaning more cancelled fixtures and a loss of future income.
What is the first thing to do with a muddy/damaged post-game?
- Don’t Panic
- Keep off the pitch till the soil is dry and not sticking to your boots and water isn’t coming up
- Allow the weather in terms of rain/frost to break down and wash in the mud bad into the soil profile, off the grass leaf. Wind will also help dry out the capped mud and assist break down.
- Go round with a garden fork and lift any divots as in this blog-https://turfcareblog.com/how-to-repair-divots-on-a-sports-pitch-in-4-ways/
- Any lows/stud/heel marks that don’t lift/prise up with the garden fork, use some seed/rootzone mix to relevel.
What else can you do, once the mud is dry & no water is coming up underfoot!
Then there is the option of getting small tractors and equipment on, if resources are available to do so!
- Possibly rotary mow/collect up any surface debris localised after hand divotting
- Break up the mud with the use of a tractor mounted spring harrow or combination turf groomer (above image) rake/brush/roller type attachments. Maybe a drag mat /brush in suitable conditions if all you have.
- Aeration (once the mud has cleared) should be ongoing on a football pitch, where resources allow but especially worth considering if a pitch has been overused. The aeration will help decompaction the pitch again and allow for a freer draining pitch. Aeration will also help re-level any minor indentations.
- If the muddy area is only localised, you could used pedestrian brushes/mats
- Tyre mark indents, if they do not lift/prise up they maybe too deep and may require filling in with a seed/rootzone mix to make safe for play. Only add the seed to mix in the grass growing months.
You may not be able to recover the pitch fully and expectations may need to be managed, till you can get through to end of season renovation when reseeding/topdressing can take place.
Should l Heavy Roll a Sports Pitch
Rolling may seem a quick fix to restoring levels, but in reality, it will probably only compact capping/sealing and burying the surface when it’s really soft and in turn your create more long term harm than good. The aim of a sports pitch is to keep it free draining as possible, this is achieved by aeration in terms of decompaction, rolling will compact and prevent rain water infiltration.
Down to the Referee
The final word is with the referee, but he should consult with the groundsperson or representatives/coaches so ensure those who are representing us are aware of your concern and details of this blog.
FA Football Pitch Inspection Guidelines – file:///C:/Users/Samsung400B/Downloads/pitch-inspection-guidance%20(3).pdf
Need help with your pitch in terms of equipment and material, then why not explore what the football foundation can possibly do to help you here-https://footballfoundation.org.uk/get-your-pitch-match-fit?gclid=CjwKCAjw7oeqBhBwEiwALyHLM8p50KoDlOxA882pFykBUldIbjMQelB3SsBaSagmzOVnfj55USlrcRoCA-kQAvD_BwE
- Stand back/don’t panic
- Wait till the pitch dries out and allow the weathering to break down the mud and get on with the garden fork to address minor level issues
- Use machinery, if needed
- Decompact, even if only high wear areas with a garden fork.
- Communicate your concern in the hope of raising awareness, prevention is better than cure.
- If grass is actively growing you have a better chance of the pitch recovering quicker
Are councils or council contractors the ones doing the damage, if so sadly this is a growing concern as this blog testifies-https://turfcareblog.com/making-sport-possible-vs-council-contractor/
Over to you, you’re the expert with the site and its characteristics. What have you found works in terms of post game repairs and how have you communicated this to clubs and referees (comments box below enabled )