Work plan for end of season renovations
First thing to do is go through your season's diary for how well or how badly your individual pitches have performed. Then you have an idea of the type of work you should be looking for prior to doing the renovation.
About half way through September, take a couple of soil profiles to 300mm and make an assessment.
It may be there is different root development on certain pitches where you may have different loams compared to the rest of the square.
My own renovation work will begin with scarifying in as many offset directions as possible, about 30 degrees from stump to stump until removing normal organic matter. My wickets are very hard with little thatch but, if there is a build up of thatch, you must try and remove it by lowering the blades with each pass and going as deep as necessary to get below the thatch layer.
Clean off by brushing and then add seed at twice the recommended rate of application to get as strong a grass cover as possible and to lessen the chances of crowning next season. I use a Johnson's Mercia/Ace mix, of 100% dwarf perennial rye, and to seed the square takes about 2 bags.
I will be adding top dressing at between 2.7kg and 5kg per sq m depending on surface levels. There are a number of ways to top dress. I prefer to do it by hand with a string line from popping crease to popping crease, and concentrate on any areas that are too low. If the pitches are very flat, a belt dresser will provide an even spread and, in my experience, are very good.
I put the top dressing on a flat board and spread by shovel along the line of the string where there are low patches. I work it in with a long, flat lute and, at the ends I use a Trulute.
If you have a germination sheet use one, it will help the grass reach maturity quicker. Water if you have an irrigation system otherwise just wait for rain. However, remember - the quicker water gets on, the quicker the germination and the quicker the establishment.
Use a pre germination fertiliser or wait until the grass comes through and put on some Autumn/Winter fertiliser in accordance with your feeding programme and soil analysis results.
Once renovation is completed, fence off the square if it's in a public area.
It's also a good opportunity for tidying up - put away the covers (if you have them), and the sight screens.
On the outfield, I've noticed a lot of clubs having problems with clover. Use a selective herbicide, Clovertox or something similar, to tackle the problem, but follow the manufacturers instructions, because many herbicides will also kill off or stunt new grass seedlings. As a rule of thumb I'd allow a six week window, either side of seeding before herbicide application.
It's a daunting task to do thatch removal on the outfield, especially if you haven't got a tractor. As a tip, I would suggest partitioning into 5 or 6 areas and do one at a time every 2 weeks or so to lift some of the thatch that has built up during the summer. Collect the rubbish with mower and verti-drain if funds allow. Over seed and top dress with a minimum of 50 tonnes, although twice that amount would be preferable. Feed for the outfield should again be based on the results of a soil analysis.Important:-Make a note of everything you use, and monitor the square every 3 or 4 days to check on germination and for disease if you are using germination sheets.