What to do on a Winter Sports Pitch this month, is just a short blog on some of the most common works taking place on winter sports pitches.
As soon as possible after the game/s put back, lift and level any divots. If left for longer periods any rooting may be killed by overnight frosts or cold spells.
Any divots that cannot be repaired can be filled with a 70/30 (sand/soil) sports specific rootzone mix, along with some 100% rye grass seed, if warm enough to germinate.
Don’t be tempted to use builders’ sand, it’s very fine and compacts, so is unsuitable for a divot/topdressing mix.
When divotting, try and close up the surface by hitting the sides of the scars/divot to push the grass from either side to get closer and this will aid the surface to knit back together.
You can use a normal four-pronged gardening fork but we recommend the use a long-shafted fork with 3 prongs closer together. This will also help your back when you are bent over using a standard fork for long periods of time.
The above text is from the blog below, so for more information on managing divots just hit the below link- https://turfcareblog.com/how-to-repair-divots-on-a-sports-pitch-in-4-ways/
Regular cutting is key to one encourage more growth, this will help thicken and fill in warn areas and all the time there is growth cutting is vital. Height of cut guide range (standard dependent) from between 25-35mm for football and 30-40mm for rugby are the usual recommendations, whether this is with the use of a triple/pedestrian machine. If using either rotary or cylinder just ensure the blades are cutting well, poorly cut grass opens the leaf up to possible disease problems.
Aeration is a vital task to do, when the ground conditions are good i.e., the soil does not cap, seal and the grass isn’t rolled into the soil. Aeration allows the infiltration of rain water and creates deep channels for roots to explore into and all this helps keep pitches playable, and assists in a healthy grass plant. Also, if heave is present then decompaction of the soil can occur.
Whatever equipment you have or don’t have you can achieve something, even if all you have is a hand fork and you can only hand fork the high wear areas you can achieve something.
If fund allow the use of a regular in-house spiking/slitting programme via a tractor/pedestrian type machine (1-4 inches) .Then in addition the hire in of a deep spiker such as a vertidrain or earthquake (linear aerator) machine (5-10 inches) would be really beneficial. Further reading link below.
Fertiliser applications at this time of year do a few things, including encouraging regrowth (nitrogen) and in turn help the pitch recover from wear. Fertilisers if containing phosphorus can encourage root growth and potassium is important for cell structure and wear and tear.
What a plant wants should always be based on soil analysis done at the start of the year, but as a very general guide something like a 3-12-12 or 5-5-10 (NPK) is very common this time of year. You want some nitrogen to help the plant grow and keep disease at bay, but you don’t want too much it can lead to soft lush diseased turf. In general no more than 8 % of nitrogen is the ideal, unless you’re using a slow release where nitrogen levels can be much higher (around 30%).
The addition of iron (Fe) within the fertilisers is often a good shout if there no young grass about, this really strengthens the grass and help keep disease free.
Always try to apply fertiliser to a dry grass leaf, which is less likely to scorch.
For more qualified and site-specific advice always speak to your fertiliser sales presentative.
Jan/Feb is the ideal months for soil analysis, for more info check out this blog – https://turfcareblog.com/soil-testing-on-sport-turf-how-when-why/
For further more in-depth reading take a look at this blog blow- https://turfcareblog.com/guide-to-fertilising-on-sports-pitches/
Line marking, whether this is with a wheel to wheel or with a spray marking machine.
Leaf clearance especially around and on football pitches, leaves break down and create dead patches of grass and also attract worms, so any way you can clear them would be beneficial.
Brushing/dragmatting/raking (as in the below image) if you’re lucky enough to have anything to pull such implements it will help keep the grass upright, prevent disease and help disperse worm casts.
Possible overseeding to bare areas, if temperatures remain above 5 c, if the grass is growing well then, it’s still likely seed will germinate. At lower temperatures it maybe worth looking at Tetraploid seed mixes – https://turfcareshop.com/blogs/articles/what-is-tetraploid-ryegrass
Take a read of Tom Banks (Voluteer Groundsperson at Kirkoswald Football Club)
We managed to purchase our new equipment with the help of the Football Foundation machinery grant, without this we would never have been able to purchase high end brand new equipment. The Football Foundation funded 75% of the total cost and thankfully we were in a good financial position to make up the remaining 25%. I would encourage all grassroots clubs to look into the various funding applications from the Football Foundation, as some of them can benefit the future of your club massively.
Click on the link to find out more – https://footballfoundation.org.uk/pitchpower/how-it-works
I hope you enjoyed the read Brian on behalf of the TurfCareBlog Community.