Late start to season at The Hurlingham
As with most sports grounds and clubs the recent cold weather has played havoc with spring renovations. Soil and air temperatures have rarely been rising above 5 degrees during the last month resulting in very little grass growth.
We at the Hurlingham Club have suffered the same weather conditions, which have prevented us getting on with our usual seasonal duties. Like most Groundsmen we are probably three weeks behind schedule. However, once the grass gets going we will hopefully soon catch up.
I have liased with the Croquet section and they fully understand that the weather has delayed growth and preparations so they have kindly put back the start of their playing season to allow us enough time to get the lawns ready. We now have until April 14th to complete our spring renovation programmes on both the croquet and bowling green lawns here at the Hurlingham.
There are one or two patches that have obviously been slow to recover through the winter, but the grass and seed is there and it shouldn't take too long for them to recover with longer daylight hours, warmer temperatures and regular maintenance.
Our spring renovation programme this year has seen us hollow tine all the lawns using 19mm diameter tines at a depth of 100mm and top dress with Ruffords' CH45 sand which has been analysed to ensure it is compatible with our existing soil profile.
Our croquet and bowling green lawns are pushed up soil constructions that date back to 1869 when the Hurlingham Club first opened. Being soil based it is essential we promote a good aeration programme each year. In fact this winter we also managed to 'Earthquake' the lawns; this coupled with some heavy frosts have helped to keep the lawns in good condition and keep them open and free draining.
We have applied between 4-5 kg / m2 of top dressings to the lawns which equate to around 7 tonnes for each of the bowling greens and about 5 tonnes for each croquet lawn.
We have kept a constant eye out for disease this winter, monitoring any outbreaks carefully. However anything that we noticed showing signs of becoming established seemed to soon disappear which was probably due to the cold harsh winter this year. In many ways I'm very grateful that we haven't had to use any fungicides this year as the ground will hopefully be building up a useful amount of beneficial bacteria.
We are currently cutting our lawns with pedestrian John Deere 220B mowers at 7mm using solid rollers. We will change to ribbed rollers in the next few days which will probably reduce the height of cut slightly anyway. After another few days we will gradually reduce the cut down further to 5mm ready for the start of the playing season. In May we reduce the height further to around 4mm for competitions and matches.
With regards to watering, we will be monitoring our water usage carefully, watering at night to prevent losses by evaporation. Our water supply comes from a borehole and is delivered accurately using a TORO Gemini irrigation system comprising of over 100 sprinkler heads. It will be important to use water sparingly this year to conserve water.
I am sure that with some warmer weather and the continuation of a robust maintenance schedule that we will soon get our lawns into top condition. This will ensure that our members will enjoy another season of top class fine turf bowls and croquet.