Most of your pre season work should have been finalized with your pitches looking their best about now. To the west of the country there has been a good deal of rain to cope with that will undoubtedly have hampered your preparations while to the south east of the country despite the occasional showers and rain you may still have been making use of your irrigation systems if you have them.
If your ground is drying out to much and you are without the resources to ensure complete watering the pitch, then concentrate if possible on the goal mouth and centre circle areas to ensure that the growth remains strong and healthy in these high wear areas. Those with good moisture through out their pitch soil profile may well be able to get some deeper spiking to help with the removal of water from the surface and to keep the water going down.
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).
An application of fertiliser beforehand and in line with your fertliser program will help to ensure that the weeds respond well to any application of a selective weedkiller. 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 of line and needs correcting. Check that your goal sockets are aligned with the goal line and the posts 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 requiring you to be a little pro-active in cordoning off the area when not in use
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 it is in good working order. A clean transfer wheel marker is less likely to leave drips behind when lifted at the end of a line. Similarly a well maintained spray line marker will give a better even crisp line without drips.
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 good sward density. It may be helpful sometimes with newly sown grasses to lightly roll the surface before cutting. This will ensure that the young seedlings 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 when marking out as a rushed line will invariably wander. This can create 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