How often have you heard, its only cutting grass isn’t it from those who see what we do, they can see no difference to what they do when they cut their lawn at home. Do we cut grass sure we do, but as you see in this blog cutting the grass is just the tip of the iceberg!
Most Groundsmen and Greenkeepers in the U.K are recreational and are doing it for the club and or the love of working outdoors and/or giving back something after years of playing. What is the true value of that time given, even if they were paid just the minimum wage?
Who is this blog for?
All of us groundsmen/greenkeepers, let’s not lose sight of our knowledge base stay encouraged and keep educating those who we can influence.
Two it’s for those who underestimate the role of groundsmen and to encourage them to look a little deeper.
This blog is primary looking at recreational groundsmen/greenkeepers.
Worth their weight in gold?
Is your groundsman saving you a small fortune?
Look at the quote below from this article- https://turfcareblog.com/identifying-the-true-value-of-grounds-maintenance/
Think of the cost to groundsmen personally in petrol to get to site, time away from family, avoiding taking holidays during busy period down at the club. Also consider the hours spend searching online for cheap turf machinery to do up, or the hours spent keeping the existing machines running.
Its only cutting grass, isn’t it?
A typical basic knowledge base list below
Basic agronomy of grass plants.
Basic understanding of soil structures, root breaks, soil profiles.
A knowledge of turf disease management of fusarium, red thread, damping off, fairy rings.
Management of undesirable weed grasses.
Managements of pests, leather jackets (root being eaten/turf being ripped up), worm casts damaging surface levels and the integrity of the playing medium(loam)
Protecting the surface from foxes, rabbits who are an unhelpful addition to cricket square and new seed.
Climate change, increase in pest problems, drought, wet periods, higher winds i.e., erratic weather patterns.
Understanding plant fertility and when and how to feed the plant with the correct balance of nutrients at the correct time of year. Along with the calibration and application of such products.
Working with machinery a health and safety inspector would probably right off.
Preparing wickets and managing the square/s in a congested timetable for juniors, practice, Saturday league matches and external bookings.
Managing a budget alongside recommending and pushing the club management for their equipment and products needed such as fertilisers and soil/grass agents, requiring a strong but politically savvy personality.
Self-promotion – so that members know what is happening to enable the preparation of a good surface and to stimulate a support structure around the club to assist with any additional or important tasks.
Mechanical knowledge and repairing of machinery.
Weed management, as weeds can be indicators of plant deficiencies.
Renovation’s specialist-removal of dead grass and the re-seed and restoration of surface levels at the end of each playing season.
Understanding when and when not to use certain types of machinery, get this wrong and you have a ruined surface on your hands.
Water management, understanding the volume of water a pitch needs is very site specific and can take time to master. Knowing when to and not to water is a key ingredient in pitch preparation and often a fine balance.
Oh yes and cutting grass, but also this is done to specific heights of cut and specific times of year and even to specific requirements depending on the format of cricket. Keeping a cylinder mower cutting is also something that comes with time and experience and a under estimated skill.
Commitment in my view you can’t buy this most groundsmen give everything for the clubs, working around fixtures, weather patterns and life commitments and so easy for clubs to take this for granted.
On the whole the turfcare industry is in decline, according to the skills training group who analysed data for the national statistics, between 2004 and 2020 the number of groundsman/greenkeepers fell by 26%, should this decline continue they forecast a decrease of 70% by the year 2049.
I don’t know if these statistics are for full time staff and include recreational sport, but if professionals are leaving and not coming into the industry this can only have a bad outcome for those at the recreational level.
Groundsman/greenkeepers are the life blood of recreational sports and are key to getting and keeping the game on, let’s not just put them down as just grass cutters, as the list above shows. Let’s support, encourage and train those we have and think about the next generation.
Brian on behalf of the TurfCareBlog community