Spring heralds pitch renovation for winter sports facilities and techniques can be adapted to suit different requirements, time windows and budgets suggests Charterhouse Turf Machinery's Nick Darking.
At clubs and schools where the pitches are used as outfields for the cricket season or other summer sports, the pressure is on to get any renovations done and the rejuvenated turf off to a good start before play begins again.
"Local clubs can get good results simply by using a Verti-drain to get air into the soil profile and encourage root growth," he comments, "Whereas at the other end of the scale premiership clubs may wish to strip the turf before Verti-draining, top dressing and overseeding to get a refreshed sward."
Timing is always key, but in our unpredictable climate that can present its own difficulties, Nick points out: "A warm, wet spring produces ideal conditions for germination after overseeding, and can help the Verti-drain get into the ground. But if it is too wet, groundsmen risk smearing the hole created by the tine and it simply fills with water. Damp soils facilitate the shattering effect of the Verti-drain which allows air and nutrients down to the roots and encourages deep rooting for a healthy sward."
Using a disc seeder such as the Charterhouse Overseeder gives the best chance of successful germination in a tight time window or difficult conditions as it places the seed into the ground, using pairs of discs in a v-formation.
"Seeding should be in at least two directions, but three or four is even better for really good emergence, especially if the pitch is still in play and groundsmen wish to minimise the visible drill lines that disc seeders can make," suggests Nick.
Overseeding at the end of the winter sports season can give the early germination needed when the pitches are needed during the summer, as the seed can still be played on when dormant, he points out.
"Royal Grammar School in Guildford does all its seeding in late March, before the end of the spring term. Then the seed has the three week Easter holiday to establish and gets a head start before the summer term."
Charterhouse Turf Machinery also offers the Speedseed range of dimple seeders which are ideal for fine turf where drill lines need to be avoided.
"The Speedseed range gives a great finish if conditions are suitable, but timing is crucial to get the desired amount of ground penetration."
"Where clubs are looking to tackle black anaerobic layer the pitch can be totally stripped before reseeding," Nick explains. "But as the equipment can work at variable depth it can also be used to fraise mow and stimulate growth of favourable grasses. It is particularly applicable to the stadium environment where poor air circulation affects turf health."
Top-dressing can be highly beneficial after seeding to get the seeds off to a good start, and the Rink DS range of spinning disc machines is ideal for applying the light dressing required.
"Traditional heavy top dressings applied twice a year have been replaced with more frequent, lighter applications. At a club in the New Forest, the Head Greenkeeper is also using a light dressing of sand and topsoil to true surfaces up, so the DS topdresser can be an extremely versatile tool," Nick comments.
Charterhouse Turf Machinery Ltd., Weydown Industrial Estate,
Weydown Road, Haslemere, Surrey GU27 1DW UK
Tel: +44 (0)1428 661222 - Fax: +44 (0)1428 661218 - www.charterhouseturfmachinery.co.uk