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Preparation of a Cricket Square- TurfChat Summary/Andy Mackay

by TurfCareBlog

Preparation of a Cricket Square- TurfChat Summary, is a blog based on fourteen community questions answered by guest host Andy Mackay ECB Pitches and Grounds advisor. Andy answered a range of question from pre season rolling, feeding and the use of wetting agents.

We have root break at approx. 4″ in depth, will this affect when l can carry out my PSR please?

Root break at 4″ it is unlikely to have too much effect, on pre season rolling in the right conditions.

Good evening all, we have a lot of bare ends on our square. With a cold spell approaching, would it be ok to put some seed down now on them?

A process of sarel roll, seed scattered and brushed in and then rolled. Would that be ok or are the holes still likely to cause an issue this late on?

Yes, I would get the seed in now if it’s just a few bare ends. Once it starts to germinate you will have to stay off with the machinery though, until it is strong enough.

We currently have a bumpy square, which I think has been caused mainly by worms and maybe the spreading of the loam at end of year renovations. It was brushed a couple of weeks ago and it has left lots of small bare patches, are we best to roll out the bumps and then reseed?

Rolling will only correct very minor surface levels (it’s never as much as you think) – perhaps try to remove the lumps if they aren’t bound in to the surface too much? It is difficult to say without seeing them though.

Does speed affect the effectiveness of rolling?

Rolling speed does not effect the results, but within reason! It should take between one and two minutes to get up and down a pitch on the roller during pitch prep. You can go a bit quicker during pre season rolling though, at least to start with.

soil samples example

I’m just awaiting my soil sample results and looking at the cores we took out which had root growth to around four inches which was great.

What amounts of feed do you tend to put down on the square as I usually spoon feed the strips that have been used to get some recovery in the plant, but not wanting to overdo it. Is this the way to proceed?

It’s a good idea to plan your annual fertiliser input. For ryegrass swards, this should be between around 100 to 200kg/N/ha/year. Once you have a plan then you can ignore it, according to the weather and clipping yield, but have the plan in place to give you confidence.

Is it better to PSR with dew or to remove the dew before, or does it depend on the soil moisture content?

All about soil moisture content, I would remove the dew as you don’t want a sticky surface.

Don’t roll when it is too wet (i.e., marking or creasing the soil) and when it’s too dry you are wasting your time. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the grass plant.

There is no point getting a ‘good’ pre-season roll in if the plant suffers, so take your time and water/rest if needed.

When is the best time to start verticutting and what are Groundsmen looking to achieve?

Verticutting is about cleaning out the sward. You can do it at any time if the year, but if you do it often when the grass isn’t growing then you will start to stress the plant too much and/or remove too much leaf and lose grass cover. I would say that once it is growing then you can’t do it enough! Just make sure the blades aren’t touching the soil!

As a part timer we have a lot of cricket and find it difficult to get much growth on my ends once repaired, is there anything you would recommend in trying?

Ends, it’s all about water! Keep them moist and get good soil-seed contact and they will grow. Pieces of germination sheet or even scaffold netting will help to keep some moisture in when you’re not there, but if it’s hot then you’re on a hiding to nothing.

net wicket rolling

How gradually should you increase ballast on your heavy roller for PSR and can it stay at maximum weight once matches start?

Ballasting – I used to do it all in one go, until I got a roller with three drain plugs, which allowed us to accurately fill it by thirds. Once it’s ballasted up then leave it there.

What sort of overlap, if any, should we be aiming for with a 3ft or 4ft roller? My thinking has always been about just under a foot with a 4ft roller?

Once you’ve been over the same bit of ground four or five times then you’ve pretty much done the compaction until drying has taken place, so if some bits get four and others get six then it’s not a big deal as you will be rolling again in the future.

What are you looking to achieve with pre-match rolling vs PSR?

We roll to squash the soil and in doing so increase bulk density (the amount of soil in any given space), we also roll to re-organise the pore spaces and facilitate drying. Whether match prep or pre-season rolling, we are doing the same thing. On a match pitch, you just carry on drying it longer. It is the drying that gets things hard, not the roller, but the roller helps to get it there.

Rolling as part of pitch preparation

If hand watering a track prior to rolling with a regular garden hose with good pressure, how long should you spend?

Watering – it’s about what you are trying to achieve, not how long as all pressures, hoses etc will be different. You should aim to get the soil wet enough to depth to roll. On a first-class ground this might be moisture down to 4″ or more, but if you can only get the ground three times a week then it might be just the top inch or two.

Are garden Ph testers of any use on a cricket ground?

Garden Ph testers forget them. Waste of time, a book of litmus paper off Amazon costs a couple of pounds and is more accurate. Make a soil solution with neutral solvent and test that.

Is there any advantage in using the brush attachment rather than the verticutter?

Brush or verticutter – The verticutter will also prune some of the older leaf I guess and possibly do a better job, a good stiff brush can pull out plenty of rubbish though.


The ECB pre season advice can be found at: https://resources.thegma.org.uk/cricket/seasonal/cricket-pre-season

If you found that useful then take a look at a TurfChat summary we did on the fertilisers- https://turfcareblog.com/community-qa-on-fertilisers/

Binder Loams
Cricket Section Supporter

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[…] Did you see the blog we did with leading ECB Grounds and Pitches advisor Andy Mackay- https://turfcareblog.com/preparation-of-a-cricket-square-turfchat-summary-andy-mackay/ […]


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