0 Town Council give pitches a sporting chance

Thorpe St Andrew.jpgA local authority has transformed two worn-out sports parks into healthy and hard-working public pitches thanks to Barenbrug's specialist grass seed mixtures.

Darrin Sayer, town amenities officer for Thorpe St Andrew Town Council in Norwich, Norfolk, manages two sports parks in the area. The first is the recreation ground on Laundry Lane, which has been open to the public since 1936. This site comprises three full-size adult football pitches, two junior pitches for 11 to 15 year-olds and a mini pitch for under-11s as well as a training ground. The second at the nearby Dussindale Park consists of an adult football pitch, junior pitch, mini pitch and training area. The site also features a large cricket square surrounded by football pitches that double as the cricket outfield during the summer.

As with all public sports parks, high usage and wear took their toll, as Darrin explains: "The parks are open to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We have club football usage seven days a week, including training sessions and league matches, plus local youngsters play in the goalmouths throughout the season. This either left them in standing water during bad weather or completely barren when it was fine and dry. Dussindale Park was worse affected as 18 inches of its topsoil were removed in the development of the Dussindale housing estate before the park was turned over to the council by developers."

Darrin turned to Kings Lynn-based Collier Turf Care for help and advice. It was his local technical sales representative, Jennie Roberts - supported by Barenbrug's sales manager for East Anglia, Neil Pettican - who recommended he try Barenbrug.

"The Laundry Lane pitches had a high infestation of yarrow and weeds as well as bad wear and tear, including bare goalmouths," Jennie recalls. "And with Dussindale left with only four inches of topsoil, it was prone to ground movement, wet areas and poor root establishment, leaving it with no grass coverage most of the season. Better quality grass seed cultivars were needed to cope with the conditions, so I suggested Darrin overseed with Barenbrug instead of the construction mix he had been using."

Darrin began by overseeding both parks with Barenbrug's BAR 7 five seasons ago. Renowned for its rapid establishment, outstanding wear tolerance and excellent shoot recovery, Darrin was impressed with the initial improvements. The following year, the cricket square was also successfully sown with the close-mowing tolerant Bar Extreme.

Jennie also recommended overseeding Dussingdale's football pitches with Barenbrug's original BAR 10 tall fescue and perennial ryegrass mixture. "The first two years saw a significant improvement in grass establishment, with the tall fescue holding its own in the goalmouths and 25-yard box areas," says Jennie.

But the introduction of Barenbrug's unique rhizomatous tall fescue (RTF), with its deep-rooting capability and waterlogging and drought tolerance, brought even better results when Darrin trialled the newly launched BAR 10 with RTF in 2007.

"I've certainly noticed the difference," Darrin enthuses. "This is our fifth year of using Barenbrug seeds and for the first time in all the five years I've been here we actually have turf at the end of the football season!" Jennie adds: "The Dussindale pitches now have 95 percent grass coverage thanks to BAR 10 with RTF."

Switching to Barenbrug, however, was a substantial investment for Thorpe St Andrew's Town Council - so does Darrin feel the extra cost was worth it? "The amount we've spent on seed in the last five years is significant for the public sector," he says. "But the investment has paid off. We're committed to this programme because we're getting the results we wanted. We're able to provide facilities throughout the season - each of these pitches plays 90 to 100 games per season, which is a high yield for a public pitch."

Jennie agrees: "Because of the tight budget, it was important to get the best possible germination from the selected mixes - Barenbrug offers the diversity and quality required. The improvements have been well worth the cost. What's more, the pitches are far safer to play on now thanks to the improved coverage."

Barenbrug UK headquarters is based at Rougham Industrial Estate, Rougham, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP30 9ND. Telephone 01359 272000, fax 01359 272001, email info@baruk.co.uk or visit www.barenbrug.co.uk.

Photo caption: One of the Dussindale Park full-sized pitches photographed at the end of the football season in 2007 and then again at the end of the 2008 season, showing the improved wear rate thanks to Barenbrug's BAR 10 with RTF.

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Contact Kerry Haywood

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