For some, the football season will have started with pitches up and in use, some experiencing a flurry of pre-season friendlies, others may yet to be starting their season. Most of your pre season work should have been finalized with your pitches looking their best about now.

Of course, the weather this summer has thrown us a challenge, going from a wet winter to an incredibly dry summer and then back into some fairly torrential bursts of rain around the country. Though the grass is now greening up well in the areas where the watering resources were limited, you may well find that the grass is a little weak in places.

The addition of a good balanced feed, with perhaps a seaweed tonic, may help to fill your grass out, but bear in mind the need to apply it in line with your feeding programme. Don't be tempted to apply to much nitrogen, as you may find yourself struggling to keep up with the up and coming flush of grass growth.

The seaweed tonic will help your grass get over the stresses of the summer. If you managed to hold some of your seed back from your earlier renovations, then you can use it to help fill out the wear prone areas on your pitches. Bear in mind also that the window of opportunity for spraying a selective weed killer is nearing a close, and you will need to factor this in before the end of the month.

By Malcolm Gardner
Grounds Manager
BA Clubs

Early in the Month 1st - 15th September

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 programme, will help to ensure that the weeds respond well to any application of a selective weed killer. 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 programme of wetting agents that will help you to manage an even soil moisture profile.

The addition of a liquid iron product will help to harden the grass against disease.

Later in the Month 16th September - onwards

Fixtures may start to come in now, if you haven't already got them. Look through them picking up on 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 where 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.

Key Tasks for September
Pitch set ups

Initial setting out and marking

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 not straight and has to be corrected.

Checking for a right angle

There are a couple of ways that you can do this, but the one that I generally favour is using the equation of the 'square root of the sum of the two sides squared'. That may sound complicated, but it really isn't so difficult when you see it written like this:

c = √ a² X b²

triangle.pngIf you have a triangle where you know the dimension of two sides, you should be able to find the third.

So if a) is 65m and b) is 32m then

A = 65 x 65 = 4225
B = 32 x 32 = 1024
C = 5249 √ = 72.44m

This method will afford you the most accuracy as you can choose the biggest triangle.

The other method is to use the 3,4,5 method, which is the most common.

So long as each of the sides are divisible by the ratio above, then you will get a triangle that you can pull a line through to your desired length so hence 3 x 5 = 15m, 4 x 5 = 20m and 5 x 5 = 25m

If you are intending to use an approved line piant with glyphosate included, or are using Primo Maxx to maximize the longevity of your lines, then make sure that you initial mark your pitch first, and then over mark with your favoured product, as you may have to look at a mistake for some time.

Useful Information for Pitch set ups

Articles Products
I walk the line! Line markers

LIne Markers

Goal posts and nets

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 newly painted goals posts and nets ready to be put into place.

Try to keep casual play out of goalmouth 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 socketed goals, then your task may be a little more difficult requiring you to be pro-active in cordoning off the area when not in use.

Useful Information for Goal posts and nets

Articles Products
Goal Posts
Mowing / dragmatting / verticutting

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.

Useful Information for mowing / dragmatting / verticutting

Articles Products
Facts about mowing

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 compaction. Keep your spiking regime flexible, alternating between surface spiking, deep spiking and slitting. A very good regime would be to:

Deep spike monthly (vertidrain or Wiedenmann)
Medium spike every other week (turf slitter such as Sisis maxislit)
Surface spike weekly (Sisis quadraplay)

Of course your ground may be very hard at the moment, so you may wish to wait for suitable moisture in the ground before commencing a spiking programme. Start with surface spiking and work up to deep spiking. Choose a thin tine for your vertidrain as this may get into the ground enough to open it up for taking a thicker tine later.

Useful Information for Aeration

Articles Products
Why Aeration?
Other Tasks for the Month
  • 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: weekly, check 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.

    Pitchcare run Lantra Awards accredited courses for groundsmen on the maintenance of winter sports pitches. To find out more, visit the Pitchcare training website - Pitchcare Training