'British Seed Houses' A20 Ryesport is keeping Everton's Goodison Park pitch and the Finch Farm training ground green despite a punishing schedule for the premiership club.
With high profile televised matches every week at the Goodison Park stadium, head groundsman Bob Lennon was keen to find a mixture to offer superb colour for the cameras throughout the season, and a discussion with British Seed Houses' Paul Moreton identified the perfect solution in A20.
A four-rye blend, A20 is the ideal mixture for sportsgrounds, offering a high tolerance to wear, rapid establishment and great winter colour.
"Paul regularly comes down to look at the pitch and pinpoint the ideal cultivars, and he suggested A20 a few years ago," Bob explains. "It is ideal for the stadium due to its high visual merit, it gives excellent colour throughout the season. I also like its rapid recovery rate after matches."
At the training ground near Halewood on Merseyside, 12-14 pitches are in use during the season, and are seeded with a number of different mixtures to allow Bob to assess the ultimate combination.
Four of the training pitches are reserved for the first team, and of these Bob ensures that the match pitch is seeded with A20, giving the team identical conditions to those in the stadium.
Renovation of the training ground starts in April, with a couple of pitches taken out at a time, with the first team pitches stripped out every other year, alternating with overseeding. Eight academy pitches are verti-drained, scarified and overseeded.
The stadium completes the 10 week renovation period, and the season begins again in the school holidays with the academy pitches used for training camps before reserve games and friendlies begin.
"These pitches are in use eleven and a half months of the year, virtually every day of the week, so it is very demanding on the turf," Bob reflects. "Every pitch is treated individually and we'll overseed with a drill or drop seeder depending on its needs but I know that I can rely on A20 for rapid germination and really vigorous growth."
Once seeded, pitches are watered, fertilised and rolled and after 2-3 weeks, cut with a pedestrian mower, within a month, Bob's team are able to return to their five-unit ride-ons, and the new turf is ready for play.
"Paul has been to the ground to discuss this year's cultivars, and I have already ordered my A20 for this year's renovations," says Bob. "At this level of football, the visual merit of the pitch is vital and we are very happy with how it has performed.
"Bob always has an eye on the market for what's new and what he thinks can aid with his pitch presentation. He is very knowledgeable with his cultivars and demands the best from each individual species.
As a company the feedback we get from professionals like Bob gives us priceless technical information that can't be replicated in trials and also what potential clients can expect when they switch to A20, whatever the level of playing surface quality."