The football season should now be up and running and, those that are not there quite yet, may still have, or be expecting some pre-season friendly matches. So, with most of the pre-season work finalised your pitches should be looking at their best about now. With the recent run of wet weather experienced by all groundsmen up and down the country this past month, football surfaces will have a higher moisture content than would be normal for this time of year.
Those in possession of deep spikers will be finding that they are already able to get good penetration spiking down to some 12 inches. This is important in trying to keep surfaces dry particularly at this point in the season when we would want the pitches to remain in top condition for some time to come as reward for all the hard work in getting them looking the bee's knees.
Early This Month
This is going to be the last opportunity to apply any selective weed killer if you are still experiencing problem weeds (make sure you match the weeds you have, to those stated on the label as providing good control). Apply also a fertiliser as indicated by your fertiliser plan worked out earlier in the year. It may be a good idea for you to have another analysis done to see how your nutrient reserves are doing. A soil analysis once a year is good practice though some will carry out two which cannot be argued with. Continue with your program of wetting agents that will help you to manage an even soil moisture profile.
Pitch set ups
Some of you will be on your final pitch preparations now including setting out and initial marking your pitches. Always best at this stage to double check your measurements before committing to a white line as this will show up badly if it is out and needs correcting. Check that your goal sockets are set inline with the base line and are not out and that when the post is in that they are upright. Correct this now to ensure a professional look particularly with the newly painted goals posts and nets ready to be put into place.
Keep casual play out of goal mouth areas. This can be easily achieved if you have a set of portable goals that can be moved around to different parts of your field or pitch. However, if you have socket goals then your task may be a little more difficult.
Later This Month
Fixtures may start to come in now if you haven't already got them. It will be a good time to look through them picking up on and major or important fixtures that will require something special. In which case you can start thinking about any special treatments or work that will be required in the lead up and pen an advance reminder in your diary.
Make sure you have enough line marking material to hand and enough to get you through your season. Inspect your marker and ensure that it is in good working order for when you need it.
Keep an eye out for disease this month particularly as the warm dewy mornings start to appear and treat as soon as possible.
Keep your machinery in tip top condition. Grease were you find a grease nipple, oil were you see a metallic moving part, check the oil, check the water. If in doubt consult the owner's manual. Clean it when you've finished. All this may seem mundane but will keep your mower going when you need it and save you money in costly down time.
Cutting: Continue cutting regularly 25 -37mm to ensure a good sward density. It may be sometimes be helpful with newly sown grasses to lightly roll the surface before cutting to ensure that the weakly held grasses in the surface do not get pulled out. Also ensure that any cutting equipment used is keenly set to cut without tearing.
Drag matting and brushing: Continue the work of brushing to keep the air circulating around the base of the plant, particularly important for removing early morning dew and controlling disease. This will also help to reinforce the presentation of the pitch.
Verticutting: will help to ensure that the sward is kept clean of lateral growth that may be appearing and also help to ensure that good circulation of air around the base of the plant.
Spiking: Continue spiking when the conditions are right (this should only be carried out if the soil is suitably moist.) to augment your deep spiking carried out to alleviate built up of compaction. Keep your spiking regime flexible, alternating between surface spiking, deep spiking and slitting.
Marking out: Take your time over this as rushed lines will invariably wander. This creates a false impression, lowering the overall standard and vision of an otherwise perfect surface. An accurate line makes such a difference.
Divoting: This is an obvious but start as you mean to go on. At this part of the season a little addition of seed mixed with a little topsoil will soon germinate and help to repair any deep scars
Equipment Checks: Check weekly goals for loose bolts and tighten as necessary.
Check nets (make sure the net is properly supported at the back of the goal and isn't sagging).
Check team dugouts are stable and anchored securely. Make sure that they are tidy and free from litter
By Malcolm Gardner