May Rugby Diary


By Laurence Gale

May is a busy time for most Rugby facilities with the end of season renovation works either started or programmed to start in May. There may be a few exceptions when some clubs have to complete end of season fixtures and cup games late into May. The level of renovation and how it is achieved will vary greatly and will be dependant on a number of factors:

  • Type of facility, its construction and soil. composition.
  • Drainage capacity
  • Extent of wear and damage to the pitches
  • Budgets available
  • Equipment available
  • Skills and resources of the ground staff
  • Time available to complete the works and allowing for establishment
  • The use of specialised Contractor services.

Any major resurfacing or drainage works are usually programmed to coincide with end of season renovations works.

Most of the tasks detailed can be undertaken within a limited budget. Local conditions and circumstances will need to be taken into account.

If any members are undertaking any specific work not detailed, please let us know by adding a comment in the section below the diary.

May tasks for Rugby





When conditions allow

Hand or machine aeration to aid surface drainage, (varying depths of penetration to prevent the development of a soil pan).

Brushing / sweeping

Daily / weekly

To remove dew and remove surface debris. Using a brush or a SISIS quadraplay will restore levels and produce striping or banding aesthetics.


Daily / weekly

Keep and eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas.


Immediately after game

To repair scars and surface damage.



Inspect drainage outfalls, channels and ditches. Ensure that they are working.

End of season Renovation As required Posts are taken down, repaired. repainted, labelled and stored ready for next season. All bare areas are cultivated, levelled, top dressed and over seeded. Other works may include aeration works which need to coincide with applications of top dressing materials, fertilisers and seed. See article on spring renovation
Fertiliser programme If grass shows signs of stress (weak growth, discoloured) Fertiliser treatment and turf tonic can be continued in accordance with your annual programme. If you haven't got a fertiliser programme, have your soil tested; try an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results.

Most grounds staff will be applying a spring/summer N P K fertiliser, perhaps something like a 9/7/7 will effectively get the grass moving during May then, towards the end of May, look to putting on a slow release fertiliser to see you through June/July. However, the choice of materials and how well it works can be dependant on many factors, soil type, weather etc., with moisture and air temperature being the catalyst for growth.

Harrowing / raking

When conditions allow


Irrigation equipment


Inspect installations for leaks. There may be a need to irrigate during any renovation programmes, as air temperatures and day light hours are getting longer, increasing the likelihood of the ground drying out. It's important to ensure that the water gets down deep into the root-zone to encourage deep rooting. Allowing areas to dry out can lead to problems of dry patch, a condition that prevents water infiltration into the soil and thus forming areas of non-uniform turf quality.

Litter / debris

Daily / Weekly

Inspect and remove debris from playing surface litter or any wind blown tree debris, litter, twigs and leaves.

Machinery (Repairs and maintenance)

Daily / Weekly

Inspect and clean machinery after use; service and repair damaged machinery.


As required

To maintain sward height 50-75mm. Frequency of mowing will increase to maintain sward height as soil and air temperatures begin to rise initiating grass growth.

Post match renovation

After matches

  • Replace divots
  • Repair worn areas (scrummage / line out wear areas)

Pre match inspections

As required

  • Inspecting pitch surface and line markings
  • Checking post safety
Seed bare & worn areas When conditions allow Seeding of sparse or bare areas can be carried out, the rise in temperatures will help germination. Use germination sheets to aid this process but remove the sheets regularly to check for diseases. Remember that without good seed to soil contact the operation is useless.

Ensure you use new seed as old material may not give you the required germination rates.

Soil tests Ideally once or twice a year, or as required. Soil sampling is an important part of groundmanship. The results will enable the manager to have a better understanding of the current status of his soil and turf. There are many tests that can be undertaken, but usually the main tests to consider are:
  • Particle Size Distribution (PSD) this will give you accurate information on the soil type and it's particle make up, enabling you to match up with appropriate top dressing materials and ensuring you are able to maintain a consistent hydraulic conductivity (drainage rate) of your soil profile.
  • Soil pH, it is important to keep the soil at a pH of 5.5-6.5, a suitable level for most grass plants.
  • Organic matter content, it is important to keep a balanced level of organic matter content in the soil profile.
  • Nutrient Levels. Keeping a balance of N P K nutrients within the soil profile is essential for healthy plant growth.

Once you have this information you will be in a better position to plan your season's feeding and maintenance programmes.

Top dressing Sand / rootzone materials

As required

Localised spreading of top dressings to repair divots and scars of turf surface.