Bromsgrove rfcI am sure many rugby pitches up and down the country will have suffered from the dry summer we have experienced this year. Local Authority, junior clubs and school pitches that were unable to be watered being the worst affected. The net result for many clubs are pitches with very little grass cover and very hard. A worry coming into the playing season.

However, the recent rain should have helped the situation. Grass is very resilient and will recover once the roots receive adequate moisture content. The grass plant soon responds with a flush of much needed growth. However, it will be important to control this spurt of growth by regular mowing.

To help the turf recover more quickly, and while the grass is still growing, a dose of autumn feed would be beneficial. Most groundstaff will be applying autumn N P K fertilisers, perhaps something like a 12/0/9 or 3/12/12 (Application Rates: 14-28 bags(25kg) per Ha 35g-70g/m2) to maintain grass colour and vigour. The choice of materials and how well they work will depend on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and air temperature being the catalyst for growth.

Grass should be maintained at between 35-100mm, it important to maintain a dense/thick sward to provide a cushion and to protect players from possible injury.

With the season just starting presentation skills will be at the forefront of most groundstaff's minds, setting the maintenance standards for the coming season. Presentation and cleanliness is an important part of the job, ensuring the playing pitch is level, safe and appealing for play.

It is important to ensure your line markings conform to current RFU laws and conditions, these can be found in the RFU handbooks that are usually issued to the club's secretary.

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.

Aeration When conditions allow
Hand or machine aeration to aid surface drainage, at varying depths of penetration to prevent the development of a soil pan and provide adequate air space for roots to colonise. Depth of aeration between 100-225mm
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.
Disease Daily/weekly
Keep and eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. Fairy rings and Red Thread can often be widespread during September. Regular brushing to remove dew will help reduce disease attack, coupled with keeping the grass plant fed with appropriate required nutrients.

After matches and training Repair and replacing divots after matches is an important part of the maintenance programme to restore playing surfaces


Inspect posts and sockets to check they are safe and secure.
Harrowing/ raking When conditions allow
Helps to restore levels and keep surfaces open. Ideally carry out after matches.
Irrigation As required
September can often be a dry month so irrigation will be a priority, especially when surfaces begin to dry out.

It is important to irrigate uniformly and ensuring the right amount of water is applied. Ensure that the water gets deep into the root-zone to encourage deep rooting. Allowing areas to dry out can lead to dry patch, a condition that prevents water infiltration into the soil, thus forming areas of non-uniform turf quality.

Marking out As required Use approved marking compounds / materials and ensure all line markings comply with RFU rules and regulations.
Machinery (Repairs and maintenance) Daily/Weekly
Inspect and clean machinery after use; service and repair damaged machinery.
Mowing As required Remember to check the height of cut; at this time of year, the pitch can be cut at a height between 35-100mm. Continue to mow the on a regular basis, ideally weekly while grass is still growing.
Pre and Post match inspections and renovations renovations. As required

Replace divots.

Repair worn areas, top dress to restore levels (localised).

Inspecting pitch surface and line markings.

Checking post safety and fit post protection covers for matches.

Seed bare & worn areas When conditions allow
Seeding of sparse or bare areas can be carried out. 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.

Weeds As required
It's now getting late into the season for applying selective herbicides; soil and air temperatures are not ideal for effective responses from these herbicide products. Hand weeding will be the most effective method of weed control during the winter months.