By Eddie Seaward
Our work on preparing the courts for the playing season usually starts in earnest in March. The exact timing will depend on the weather conditions. It is vital that the court is not so wet and soft that the machinery will damage the surface. The following timetable is a description of our preparation at Wimbledon. As with all the procedures the timing is influenced by weather conditions.
This continues at 12mm throughout the month; frequency of mowing will depend on growth the grass should not be allowed to grow so long that more than 2mm is removed at any one time.
The operation of firming the surface starts with a light roll across the line of play. This will Rectify any soil movement from frost heave that may have occurred during the winter. Following the first roll the court will benefit from one or two passes of the roller along the courts length. When considering using the roller it is advisable to first roll outside of the playing surface. If the roller causes damage such as ridging then leave this operation until the court is drier. This procedure will avoid the risk of damage that may affect play at a later date.
Mowing will continue with the frequency being increased to three times per week. We introduce verti groomers and set these at 1mm below the height of cut. The height of cut is reduced to 9mm (8mm if play commences in April).
With play scheduled to start in mid May, rolling will be a regular operation with the frequency being increased during the second half of the month.
Fertilizers will be applied at the very end of the month or at the beginning of May. We use a cyclone type spreader. To ensure an even distribution two passes are made with the machine. One pass along the court, the other across the line of play.
Any court or area of the court which shows a sign of a thin grass sward should be oversown.
The application of some fungicides are on an 'as and when required basis' all year round.