Should we be putting a cricket square to bed for the winter, is a blog motivated by my own hate of the term of putting a square to bed. Putting to bed is a very passive and final term and can portray the wrong impression to those outside the industry.
Yes, there is less to do once renovations are complete but in my opinion the work for next season starts now. Grass grows around ten months of the year and the following few months are vital to ensuring the new seed is up, established and strong.
This blog looks at the vital tasks needed to be carried out now over the next few months, which include, cutting, spiking, brushing, feeding and more!
Who is this blog aimed at, most groundsmen know there is winter work to do on a cricket square, but a lot of club committee are less aware. So, this blog is for you if required to present to them so we can encourage their support over the winter?
Social Media Polls
This poll l did across social media backs up most groundsman are aware theres work to be carried out down the ground during winter, with the majority visiting weekly
In my opinion aftercare of a newly renovated cricket square is vital, your club have invested a small fortune in machinery, seed, loam and fertiliser. We now have a period until we reach the colder month when the grass slows to create a densely grassed surface and a deep-rooted plant.
The new seed initial sends out one root (adventurous root) and one leaf, but over the days and weeks more leaves are formed and roots are established, we have a part to play in that process.
What if we leave it to its own devices?
Every cut/feed promotes energy back into the plant and roots, if we aren’t cutting the sward, it won’t gain density, this will leave room for moss and weed grass to establish instead.
It’s easy for me to say though as l am full time, as l am on site more to pick a window to get a cut in, well you would think so (#weather) but l certainly get more opportunities than a volunteer groundsman gets.
What tasks can we carry out over autumn/winter while the plant is growing
Once the new leaf snaps rather than pulls out its ready for regular cutting as growth requires. The range of height is between 18- 25 mm, the first few cuts could well be longer as you work down to the recommended range above.
Leaf too long- Possibly encouragement of disease, due to a lack of air flow around the base of the plant.
Too short- is less of a problem, but ever heard the expression longer the shoots, longer the roots so the range above seems a good guide.
Cutting tip- Whether using a cylinder or rotary, just ensure its on cut and cuts cleanly.
As you cut you remove vital food sources such as nitrogen, these needs replacing in the form of fertilisation once every six weeks or as your fertiliser recommends. Feeding also helps stop the formation of a disease called red thread (click below to learn more about red thread).
Feeding of the plant should ideally be done based on a soil analysis testing results but as a general recommendation a balanced fertiliser with 4-8% of Nitrogen (growth) max and some phosphorus(roots) and potassium (overall strength). Something like a 6-5-10 granular.
Tips- The addition of fe (iron) contained within the fertiliser helps keep disease at bay and also knocks the formation of moss.
Overseeding- can still be done all the time the plant is growing, it will take a lot longer to establish and l find once you get past November it becomes less successful, but don’t worry too much the better overseeding window comes in late March into spring.
Top tips on over seeding- ideal seed depth 10-15 mm deep and use germination/debris or hort fleece to encourage a warmer soil, but ensure you check under these sheets ever other day to prevent disease forming in that wet and mild atmosphere.
I have noticed this is becoming a very popular task now for club groundsmen, this has many benefits, which include disease/moss prevention, upright plant gives you a better cut, disperses worm castes.
Aeration has a few benefits and can be done once the soil profile is moist enough to accept the tine, this is usually from November onwards. A few benefits are, deeper rooting, helping hold together issues within the soil profile, moss prevention and increase surface drainage and more.
Putting a Cricket Square to bed– Summary
For a more detailed overview on aeration of cricket squares check out this blog – https://turfcareblog.com/a-need-to-breathe-aeration/
If you want specific questions answered then take a look at this blog below, questions answered like cylinder/rotary at what height, when do we fertilise with what, do we need to water after renovations.
I hope this blog reienforces what most of us already know, aftercare and winter works of a cricket square is vital, often the challenges to this are the weather or committee not supporting the groundsmen in terms of time (if paid) or materials.
If all you can do is cut once every two weeks, a feed every six/eight week the grass will thank you for it, l have also found the grass plant to have quite simple demands and if these are met it’s a pay you back.
Should we be putting a cricket square to bed for the winter by Brian on behalf of the TurfCareBlog community.
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