How to Repair Divots on a Sports Pitch, is a blog written by two very experienced football groundsman and is also transferable to other winter sports.
Why are divots/surface scars such problem
Contributes to poor ball roll/pitch performance.
Weed and weed grass invade bare areas
Possible injury to players
When and How to Manage Divots
One -Put Back ASAP
As soon as possible after the game put back, lift and level any divots. If left for longer periods any rooting may be killed by overnight frosts or cold spells.
Any divots that cannot be repaired can be filled with a 70/30 or 50/50 (sand/soil) sports specific rootzone mix, along with some 100% rye grass seed.
Possibly look into using a Tetraploid ryegrass seed, it establishes quicker and works well at lower winter temperatures.
Don’t be tempted to use builders’ sand, it’s very fine and unsuitable for a divot/topdressing mix.
When divotting, try and close up the surface by hitting the sides of the scars/divot to push the grass from either side to get closer and this will aid the surface to knit back together.
You can use a normal four-pronged gardening fork but we recommend the use a long-shafted fork with 3 prongs closer together. This will also help your back when you are bent over using a standard fork for long periods of time.
If you are lifting the divot please take care not to tear the root structure in and around the divot as this can destabilise that area-Adam WitchellTweet
If visible divots and scars left after divotting are large meaty ones then you can use a seed slotter, this will leave indents in the area that you can then sprinkle in some seed and dressing. Creating a hole for the seed will ensure a better chance of not being kicked out or ending up bird food!
Once step One has been carried out, the possible use of a tractor mounted/towed implement with a chain/spring tine harrow, can be used this will help sort out any minor levels and get the grass standing back upright. The level of aggression is dependent on the plants ability to recover, so when its growing less then less aggressive settings are required.
Conditions are key, we are looking to lift the grass and maintain any minor bumps and lumps, not cap or seal the soil surface.
Chain harrow have two side- smooth side=less aggressive =spikes down.
Three-In Season Aeration
Regular in season aeration combined with deep spiking, multiple depths solid tining, slitting and even air injected aeration all can be carried out via a reliable contractor, when conditions/ budgets allow.
Aeration will help restore levels and help the surface drain better and hopefully in turn cut up less, as this will allow the roots more room to move downwards and will in turn allow the surface to have a stronger and more durable structure.
If you have a long break or even as part of the end of season renovations, possibly look to hollow core the playing surface.This will allow more space and air to get into the soil and build up a deeper stronger root system.
Four -End of Season Renovations
End of season renovations and more importantly the topdressing of the pitch, with a sport’s specific sports topdressing. Topdressing aims are to to 1-restore surface levels. 2-increase water infiltration.
In season mowing, if done with a cylinder or rotary with a roller as part of the machine, will also help restore minor levels.
By purchasing a better quality sand always, a medium coarse or fine size this will massively increase the infiltration levels and help your soil structure to improve.
Any sand too small or sharp will bind up slicing the plant roots and cause the water to sit on the surface, sometimes buying cheap is buying twice.
3 Reasons NOT to Roll a Football Pitch to Restore Levels
1 -Seals and caps the surface, preventing rain water infiltration.
2-Compacts the rootzone, again preventing water infiltration.
3-Rolls the plants into the surface, during a period of less growth and ability to stand back up.
Avoid any mower heavier than 250 kgs in weight.
If you don’t have a tractor, then just doing some hand divotting/levelling is very worthwhile and if funds allow some in season topdressing (when the grass is growing). Even if you can only do small areas then then focus your attention there.
Take a look at this helpful video below.
How to Repair Divots on a Sports Pitch, Written by Jamie Honeyman (Dagenham & Redbridge FC) and Adam Witchell (Contracts Manager Iverde)