20 Autumn Renovations, Kill or Cure

Koro1.jpg The success of your end of season renovations will be governed by many factors and the end result will inevitably dictate the performance of your pitch or facility next year.

The extent of the renovations will be dependent on the current conditions of the facility and any future objectives the club has to-up grade their facilities.

It is important to understand the objectives, why you are carrying out these renovations. You may also have particular problems you need to address, such as surface drainage, surface re levelling, black layer or dry patch.

The needs and extent of the renovations will dictate what type machinery and amount of materials should be used. Ideally you should take a number of soil core samples to enable you to identify any underlying problems.

Sending away a quantity of soil for analysis will help you establish the condition and nature of your soil profile.

Knowing soil pH, soil type and nutrient status of your soil will help you to choose the right products to maximise the performance of your soil in relation to top dressings, fertilisers and seed selection, or in some instances when changing or up grading the materials used on your pitch / facility. For example, the introduction of the Koro Fraise Mower has revolutionised the removal of unwanted sward vegetation and levelling of squares in one efficient and effective process

Care should be taken when deciding to use the Koro. It is a fantastic machine and is very efficient in taking off soil and vegetation. Some Groundsmen have removed excessive amounts of loam with this machine, adversely effecting the performance of the pitch the following year. Ideally cricket pitches should have at least 100mm depth of clay loam on their wickets.

Generally the main objectives for autumn renovations are:

· To repair worn areas.
· Prevent a build up of thatch layers (scarification).
· Restore surface levels (top dressing).
· Alleviate compaction (aeration).
· Re-establish sward densities (overseeding).
· Application of pre seeding/autumn fertilisers to promote sward and root establishment.

The success of these renovations can often be dictated by a number of factors.

· Timing of operations
· Weather conditions
· Type and, often, the condition of the machinery used (aerators, scarifiers, overseeders and top dressers).
· Choice of materials
· Knowledge and experience of the persons undertaking these works.
· Budgets Available

If you do decide to use external contractors to carry out your renovations, ensure you have checked their credentials and they have the relevant skills, experience and machinery to do the job. Obtain references.

It is important to ensure that all materials (seed, fertilisers, topdressings and any hired machinery) have arrived and are secured and stored safely on site ready for use. Often, when ordering materials late, you may be faced with delays on delivery or not being able to get the products you want in time for your planned works.

Timing of operations

The earlier you can get on with your renovations the better (mid September through to mid October are usually optimal times for renovations). It is important to make good use of the warm soil and air temperatures that will aid seed germination.

Also there needs to be some moisture in the ground to allow adequate penetration of both the scarifiers and aerators.

Plan your work well in advance and notify all the relevant parties involved, you may need to secure additional labour to help carry out these works.

Weather conditions

It is important to work with the weather conditions, particularly when applying and spreading top dressing materials, the surface needs to be dry. However, there needs to be adequate moisture in the soil profile when applying granular fertilizer products so that they become activated and made soluble, enabling then to be taken up by the plant.

Types of machinery

Choice of machinery is vital for successful renovations; ensure that scarifiers and aerators are fit for purpose and that the blades and tines are sharp, clean and of the correct length.

Also check that they are safe to use and have the appropriate guards fitted.

There are many different makes and models of machines available, all of which offer different techniques or modes of action. Some scarifiers are more aggressive than others.

Ideally, you need to take a soil profile of your green and measure the thatch layer present. If it measures 10mm you will need to ensure the scarifier is capable of operating to this depth, therefore being able to eradicate the thatch layer you have.

Aerators come in many different forms offering different tine spacing and depth and size of tines. Again you need to choose the appropriate aerator for your needs.

In most cases the biggest factor dictating the clubs choice of machinery is often what they have or what they can afford to hire?

Watering will be essential if you are faced with a dry period soon after seeding. Make sure you can water uniformly. The choice of sprinkler will be dictated by what water pressure you have on site. Also, do not over water. I have seen instances where some clubs switch on their water systems every night without fail, thus ending up with a waterlogged facility.

Choice of materials

Ensure you use compatible top dressing materials. Changing materials can often have disastrous results. Layering of different materials can cause root breaks and interfere with the hydraulic movement of water through the soil profile.

Seed should be used from approved suppliers and be certified. The use of old seed (more than twelve months old) may decrease its germination rates.

Above all ensure that these materials are available and delivered in time to undertake these renovations.

Knowledge and experience of the persons undertaking these works.

The experience and knowledge of the Greenkeeper in choosing the right materials and methods of work are critical to a projects success.


The overriding factor that can influence the level of renovation undetaken is the budget. This dictates the labour, machinery and quality and quantity of materials available.

Please see following link for more information on products sold in the Pitchcare Shop

: -Pitchcare store _ www.pitchcare.com/shop for a range of quality machinery, tools and materials including seeds from the leading brands in the UK.

Good luck with your renovations

Editorial Enquiries Editorial Enquiries

Contact Kerry Haywood

07973 394037

Subscribe to the Pitchcare Magazine Subscribe to the Pitchcare Magazine

You can have each and every copy of the Pitchcare magazine delivered direct to your door for just £30 a year.