Allett Mowers Birmingham stadium

Football Groundsmen & End Of Season Preparations

The recent highs of the Champions League and the Europa League cup semi-finals saw four premier English football teams (Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea) reach the finals of both respective cup competitions. Back home the groundsmen of these four clubs along with all the other professional football groundsmen will be busy organising and carrying out their end of season renovations. These annual end of season renovations are vitally important to ensure that the playing surfaces are effectively rejuvenated and made ready for the following season. The work usually involves cleaning off the existing 10-20mm of surface vegetation, restoring surface levels with new rootzone materials, deep aeration work, applying a pre-seeding fertiliser product and re-sowing with some new dwarf ryegrass seed mixtures. With the aid of automatic irrigation systems and lighting rigs, the newly sown pitches will have germinated within ten days and mown for the first time using rotary mowers within three weeks of sowing. It is then a case of regular mowing using cylinder mowers to increase tillering with the aim of getting the pitch to a playable condition within ten weeks. The essence of a good renovation is planning and carrying out the desired work to achieve your aims and objectives. For a majority of winter games pitches at grass roots levels it should be about relieving compaction, reintroducing some new seed and repairing worn areas. Do not skimp on these works, invest in good quality grass seed mixture’s and if budgets allow top dress and fertilise your pitches. A number of machinery manufacturers have over the years been instrumental in bringing to market an array of specialist machinery and equipment to help speed up the renovation works, thus enabling the job to be dome more quickly and efficiently. Many sports turf contractors can now offer a comprehensive renovation service at a competitive cost something between £5-10K. A typical grass roots end of season renovation of a winter games pitch would usually see the contractor scarify the pitch in three directions, top dress with 60 tonne of sand, deep solid tine to a depth of 225mm, fertilise and over seed. The whole renovation process, depending on the weather conditions can now be achieved within a week. The Koro Fraise mower can remove up to 25mm of vegetation by literally planing the top off. The Koro recycling dresser meanwhile, is a heavy-duty aerator and root-zone recycler that is able to aerate the underlying soil vertically and horizontally, removing the soil from the root-zone and re-distributing it across the playing surface. The use of a Recycling Top Dresser reduces the amount of new top-dressing required, therefore saving labour and material costs and promoting sustainable maintenance. Three different working widths are available in the new range. In recent years we have also seen the development of some excellent top-dressing machines, that can spread a lot of material very accurately. Your choice of seed mixtures will be dependent on the sport you are playing and the price you want to pay. In general terms, you should be looking to invest in a good quality sports turf ryegrass seed mixture. We have an excellent choice of suppliers and seed companies who over the years have developed a wide range of seed varieties to suit your needs. Prices range from £75-£150 per bag, which is not cheap especially when you need between 8-12 bags per pitch. Giving you an average cost of around £1200 to seed a whole pitch, not wanting to waste any seed, it would pay to ensure you use a seed disc or seed drill to plant the seed into the pitch and not just broadcast it on the surface. One of the other key factors that determine the success of germination will be the fact that the pitch is kept watered. We would hope that nature can usually take care of this with some timely periods of rain soon after renovations have been completed. However, no doubt some parts of the country will experience dry spells, thus needing you to irrigate the pitch using sprinklers. Many top end sports clubs and schools have in recent years invested in either, a pop-up sprinkler system or acquired a self-travelling sprinkler system to water their pitches. With water now becoming a valuable and, in some areas, a scarce resource, we should as commissioners be more aware of how we can maximise its use and not waste it. Written by Laurence Gale