Home Football Should we Roll a Sports Pitch 

Should we Roll a Sports Pitch 

by TurfCareBlog

Should we roll a sports pitch, in this blog l look at the negatives of rolling a sports pitch and how there are other options for the surface levelling of a sport pitch post play. 

Soil Types 

Rolling of heavier soils will definitely compact the rootzone especially where the grass cover is lost and the soil is soft. 

Sand profiles also have the ability to compact easily and why you now see professional sports club cutting with pedestrian type rotary mowers, rather than triple mowers and tractors. 

Negative effects of Regular Rolling!

  • Shallower root depth 
  • Drainage 
  • Risk of compaction 
  • Burying weak grass 
  • Stressing the grass plant
  • Increase of weed and weedgrass (poa) populations 

What will a roller won’t do? 

Grassroots club grounds often have level issues post play and it’s an easy assumption to think, let’s roll it level! 

A roller will only help iron out minor levels on a well grassed surface, to achieve a greater depth and the altering of levels you’d need it to be very soft and bare. Even if this was achievable, you would just compacted the soil so much you would then create a new bigger problem. 

A better range of options for this situation could be koro (planning off) the use of a turf cutter to remove the worst of the highs and or the bringing up of low areas in the form of topdressing. 

Are you trying to smooth out a cut up pitch post play

 If the soil is soft and bare the introduction of any kind of machinery especially a rolling will only increase the chances of compaction, capping and sealing of the soil which should be avoided. The best thing you can do is keep off till it’s suitable to get on with equipment designed to aerate, rake, brush over the use of a roller. 

Using a heavy roller could result in a pitch that will infiltrate rain water at a very low and slow rate and result in a soil with little room for roots, oxygen and nutrients and in turn a poorly performing pitch.

combination tool attached to a tractor
Tractor mounted combination attachments for managing surface levels

Reason’s a Roller is Considered

  • Releveling of a cut up sports pitch post play
  • To settle frost heave, frost heave sounds positive it’s a form of decompaction, so not a bad thing as all
  • Levelling of worm cast, only smearing will occur and a great potential in encouraging bare and weed dominated areas. The use of a brush, rake, Dragmat in dry soil conditions may be a better solution and will disperse cast and encourage grass growth.


Switching from rolling the pitch to a regular surface aeration program has been absolute game changer for my clubs pitches. Wes -Cranfield United (Volunteer Groundsperson)

Problems you could possibly create!

 A roller by nature is designed to compact to some degree the issues that come when the roller is used on a soft, bare soil this will create the squeezing out of air and the consolidation of the soil pores spaces. These pores spaces are vital to keep open to allow the soil rain water. 

Over time or done once in very poor ground conditions could result in complete loss of pore space which in terms could result in a pitch where water will just puddle up on the surface of the pitch and only dry out by wind or evaporation. 

deep spiking
Deep aeration and light roll just to settle the surface after decompaction

What to do instead?

Other options are using a tractor mounted combination tool, in the right conditions, which includes a light settling roller but also a slitting attachment to counter and balance the task.

The use of a tractor mounted spring tine harrow, brush, rake or even a dragmat to knock the surface level back in along with complimentary hand divotting works infilling of any left-over lows with a suitable rootzone soil mix.

Regular in-house aeration and less frequent deep spiking, a deep spiker also has a roller fitted to it (see the above image) this will aid the levelling of minor surface imperfections. 

The best form of aeration to achieve decompact would be something that has an element of heave, if heave is applied in a workable soil state a level of decompact ion is achieved. 


I used to roll the hell out of that pitch before I learnt more, it used to “flatten” it out but as soon as it rained it was just sitting on top- Tom Kirkoswald FC (Volunteer Groundsperson)


If you know your site and rolling is only done sparingly and you believe the pro’s out weight the con’s then that is your decision to make, l hope this blog will just show you there are more options to hand that l believe will give you a better outcome.

If a roller is all you have, why not look into funding options via the football foundation for something that will really enhance your pitch – https://footballfoundation.org.uk/grant/grass-pitch-maintenance-fund

That is my experience but what is your, what else could be said l have not covered, please leave comments in the reply box below this blog.


PS- Want to know how to deal with a muddy, cut up sports pitch, if so take a look at this blog – https://turfcareblog.com/how-to-repair-a-muddy-damaged-sports-pitch/

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1 comment

Anonymous November 13, 2023 - 10:09 am

good read


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