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What is Verticutting

by TurfCareBlog

What is verticutting is a blog that looks at the benefits, equipment requirements and timing and much more. We also look at some of the finer details of verticutting in this simple guide.

Basic description of what is verticutting?

“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 impacting the soil!” Andy Mackay- ECB Grounds and Pitches Advisor.

vert cut unit image
Using a metal edge to get a even setting

I set up by verticutting unit, just a couple of millimetres off touching the metal edge of the height bar. Then on a end pitch l adjust up or down by hand end setting based on thickness or grass and how aggressive l want to verticut. The more the grass plant is growing the more regularly you can do it, but in general is a bi weekly task.

What type of machines/equipment’s do we need to verticut?

You can buy a verticutting unit as a removalable cartridges you place within specific mowers or you can buy stand-alone machines, such as one greentek sell. All these machines come with a grass collection box, which is the ideal.

During pitch preparation (cricket) a sisis combirake is widely used, this lift and pulls up stalky/crowny/matted grass which in turn thins and evens out the grass canopy. The combirake is as it says more of a rake than a tine, which you would you often get on vericutting units. There are no options for collection with a combirake, so cutting and collecting after would be required.

Extra Information

Veticutting blades are often around 1/2mm in width and are more tightly packed together, in comparison to the spacing you would get on a scarifer, which would also have thicker blades(2-3mm).

Verticutters can have up to 40 blades/tines, closely spaced.

Designed to work 2-3mm above the soil surface, not impacting it.

Many groundsperson, alternate directions of verticutting and also go against the grain, so up the lines you come down when cutting as they believe you get better results. Cricket pitch thinning wise, its recommended to go up and back down the same line, as you would do cutting or rolling the pitch.

poll results image

Summary of poll results

We did four polls across social media to gauge what are people doing on the grounds and it appears even though it is only early April, verticutting is very much in full swing. Timing wise as long as the plant is actively growing and not under stress from heat or hunger it is a good time to start.

What effect does verticutting have on the plant?

Verticutting basically improves the tillering and this in turn increases density and thickens up the plant.

What are the main benefits?

  • It can help in the prevent of disease, but the removal of dead material and aid air flow around the base of the canopy.
  • Stimulates the grass plant to grown in a more vertical position.
  • Vertically removal of lateral plants, helping prevent stalky, crowny/circular and uneven grass coverage
  • Helps in the prevention of annual meadow grass ( poa), which is crowny in nature and vertiutting can help remove the seed heads which spread it further.
  • Thins out the grass canopy in cricket pitch preparations
  • Verticutting helps keep a clean surface/canopy of leaf matter and in turn a reduction of thatch accumulation.
  • Removes surface debris such as seed heads, leaves, small twigs and animal dropping which can break down and create organic matter in the soil, which you want to prevent.
  • If you wanted a bit more detail on the verticutting of cricket pitches, take a look at this video.
  • On a bowls/golf green verticutting increasing ball roll speed.

If you wanted a bit more detail on the verticutting of cricket pitches, take a look at this video.

Dennis Cassette above

When is the best time to verticut?

Used bi weekly in the growing season, when the grass is growing actively. The growing season can also mean autumn, if the grass is actively growing. Once the grass plant slows, or stops then you want to avoid verticuting, or you may just thin out the grass canopy too much and this can encourage in undesirable weeds or weed grasses etc.

How do we set up the machine and what are we looking to achieve?

If it is a cassette type verti cut unit, you set it 1-2mm off a setting bar/or metal straight edge. This straight edge needs to run from roller to roller and you need to measure the gap, leaving a 1-2 mm from touching the setting bar though could be more based on how hard you want to verticut.

If you don’t have a setting bar, then your just have to adjust the machine on the square, main aim is to verticut at an even height, not impacting the soil surface.

If your square is unlevel with highs and low, you may need to set it up higher, to prevent soil being impacted, so there no one set height of setting.

Many ask what is the difference between verticutting and scarification, for more reading on this click here –https://turfcareblog.com/scarification-vs-verticutting-what-is-the-difference/

I think verticutting is vastly underrated, l certainly have realised in writing this blog the many benefits it brings and will try and do it more, on a little and often basis on my cricket squares.

Any questions, anything l missed just leave a comments below and l shall respond.

Brian on behalf of the TurfCareBlog Community.

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