August football Diary
By Dave Saltman
With the league season starting this week, Professional Groundsmen will be hard at work preparing their pitches.
The order of the day is mowing. Regular mowing will encourage growth, thickening the sward to produce a uniform carpet of grass. Remember to check the height of cut; at this time of year, the pitch can be cut at a height between 19mm-35mm. Although the recent hot weather may be causing the pitch to burn up, if irrigation is a problem then leave the grass as long as is possible (30mm-35mm) to help retain any moisture in the soil.
The quality of cut will also be very important, particularly with the dry conditions. Check that the cylinder is cutting cleanly across the bottom blade before mowing takes place. If using a rotary mower, check that the blade is sharp. To avoid expensive re-grinds, walk the playing surface prior to mowing, removing any stones, metal pegs, bottles etc that may have been thrown on to the pitch.
Brush the surface before mowing, to remove dew and help the grass to stand upright.
It's not to late to weed kill, Plantains will be throwing up seed heads, so before they mature, spray the surface with a selective weed killer to remove broad leaved weeds. If you haven't a recognised spraying certificate, use a local contractor. Cost should be around £200-£300 per pitch. Click here for Pitchcare classified spraying contractors.
With the weeds dying back, regular mowing will thicken the sward, discouraging new weeds from colonising the surface.
If possible, regular weekly aeration will encourage roots to go deeper and colonise air space left by the tine/slit holes. Obtaining a good root structure now will be of major benefit in the winter. Use a solid tine or slit machine, if it is possible to do weekly aeration, vary the depth of the spikes so as not to create a pan at a particular depth in the soil.
Again subject to weather, a feed now will benefit the plants, try to use a liquid feed but if using a granular feed make sure that adequate water can be put onto the pitch. Alternatively have the fertiliser ready to use just before the weather breaks and reasonable rain is forecast.
If there are areas of new seedlings that are struggling to mature, get a hose pipe or watering can and water these areas-even a little moisture will be of benefit.
Keep goalmouths roped off to stop unwanted early use-in an ideal world the pitch should be completely out of bounds.
The pitch may need setting out and the first mark put on. Remember to use the 3,4,5 triangle method to get the pitch square. If existing sockets are in the ground, work from these to mark out the pitch. Make sure that the pitch is cut to the desired length prior to marking out.
Tidy up the edges of the pitch, strim around advertising signs and crowd barriers. Presentation on the pitch will be let down badly by unkempt edges.
Check nets to make sure they aren't full of holes (no pun intended). Erect posts if they have been painted and stored through the summer months.