To be fair, we have had a really good growing period this summer, with plenty of sunshine and warm weather. However, some parts of the country have experienced very hot weather which has led to many pitches drying out and in need of watering.
For most clubs, watering their pitches is not alway practical as they ofen do not have the resources and equipment; it is rather a case of waiting for some rain.
However for clubs that do have the resources, it is important you water the pitch uniformly, and often best to water in the evening when tempratures are low to reduce the chance of scorcing the turf.
Regular mowing, at least weekly, is essential to improve the condition of the pitch. Too many clubs tend to leave the grass to grow far too long, often in excess of 100mm in length, before cutting.
So, when it finally gets cut, you are left with a pitch resembling a farmer's field ready for bailing. This, in turn, causes more problems in that these arisings have a detrimental affect on grass growth and the aesthetics of the pitch.
Regular cutting and feeding will encourage the grasses to tiller and thicken at the base, giving you a better quality sward for play.
Continue to cut the grass. Do not be afraid to invest in some fertiliser; yes, it will make the grass grow and it comes at a cost, however the more growth you can get the better. Regular cutting will thicken the sward and help produce a better pitch.
Make use of the recent wet weather, it will stimulate growth and activate the fertiliser products.
Generally, August sees the start of pre-season matches. The focus will be on mowing and preparing the turf surfaces for play. Grass heights will vary depending on the type of mowers used, however most will be looking to maintain a height of cut between 25mm and 75mm.
Linemarking; check your stock of materials, do you have enough paint or marking fluid to initial mark your pitches?
Also, check your linemarking machine is fit for purpose; give it a good clean and check all working parts, and ensure the nozzles are clean on spray jet markers.
Particular attention should be made to irrigation regimes, for those who have access to water, ensuring that all areas are watered uniformly to promote healthy growth. Make sure that divoting takes place straight after play finishes, because divots will dry and die very quickly in the hot weather.
Irrigation will be a priority, especially if maintaining newly sown or turfed areas. It is important that these areas do not dry out and die. It is important to ensure that the water gets down into the rootzone 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, thus forming areas of non-uniform turf quality.
Inspect installations for leaks.
Pre-season training will be well underway, with club coaches demanding marked out areas for practices. Ensure you have enough marking materials and an efficient, quality linemarker for carrying out these tasks.
Check with the sports governing body (RFU) for any amendments to the laws and markings of the pitch. Care should be taken when initially marking out new lines, ensuring that they are true, straight and measured correctly, using the 3,4,5 method to achieve accurate angles.
There are a number of marking machines available on the market, wheel to wheel, spray jet, dry liners and aerosol markers. The choice will be dependent on cost, area to be marked and the type of line you want.
The following four points are essential requirements to help achieve accurate line marking:
A reliable, accurate line marking machine
Appropriate, approved marking fluid
Careful planning and preparation (setting out lines)
Time and care
Useful Information for Linemarking
|The importance of maintaining an AGP||Linemarking Machines|
Maintain sward height at 25mm-75mm; the top height will cushion heavy falls on any hard ground. Frequency of mowing will increase to maintain sward height as soil and air temperatures initiate grass growth.
The choice of mower will generally be dependent on budgets available, coupled with your particular requirements. Most stadium pitches tend to keep to ride on triples and pedestrian Dennis or Ransomes 30"-36" type mowers.
There is also a need to keep up with other forms of mowing to control the grass around obstructions and fencelines.
Brushing: To remove dew and remove surface debris. Using a brush or a SISIS quadraplay will restore levels and produce striping or banding aesthetics.
Useful Information for Mowing and Brushing
|Facts about mowing||Football Pitch / Rugby Pitch Grass Seed|
Fertiliser treatment and turf tonics 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 summer N P K fertiliser, perhaps something like a 12:0:9 to maintain grass colour and vigour. A slow release fertiliser could be applied to see you through August and September. The choice of materials and how well they work will dependent on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and air temperature being the catalyst for growth.
Useful Information for Fertilising
|Plant Nutrition - food for thought||Spring & Summer Fertilisers|
Inspect you goalposts and ensure they are safe and secure
Replace any damaged/ lost flags, and post protectors
Replenish materials (line marking fluid, seed, fertilisers )
Check and service all machiney