Regular maintenance is key to maintaining a good playing surface. As more and more
players are expecting better and better surfaces we have found the standards of natural
grass pitches are improving through better routine maintenance by the ground staff.
- Where clubs do not have the necessary time or machinery we can carry out any of the processes on their behalf.
- Regular mowing is essential.
- The pitch is a living organism so it needs fed.
- The roots need air to survive so compaction relief and aeration are essential.
- Sand top dressings are needed to maintain surface drainage rates and prevent a capping layer from building up on the surface.
- Scarifying to remove thatch.
This is one of the single most important aspects of annual maintenance, recommended twice a year. It is used to aerate the soil without damaging the playing surface. Aeration of the soil is vital to encourage a good sward.
- It relieves compaction caused by maintenance machinery and player traffic.
- Encourages essential oxygen and water infiltration.
- Helps develop root growth.
- Helps to reduce the build up of organic matter and thatch in the upper profile – ‘capping layer’.
Tony Patterson’s has both large verti-drainers for playing pitches and small verti-drainers for golf greens and bowling greens.
Verti-drain tine diameters range from 5mm to 25mm. With our experience and expert advice we can deliver exactly what the clients surface requires. The pitch is immediately ready to play after vertidraining.
Top dressing is usually carried out along with vertidraining depending on the surface conditions. It involves placing a fine layer of specially selected sand or sand/soil mix over the existing playing surface. It is recommended that top dressing is carried out at least once a year in conjunction with vertidraining. Top dressing improves the structure of the soil and assists in the breaking down of the ‘capping layer’. Heavy applications of sand on sports pitches can help to improve the drainage of the surface. Frequent light dressings in the growing season will help provide first class surfaces.
Firm fast greens will require regular top dressings to provide the necessary resilience. Suitable top dressings can be used to connect the surface with the drainage layers beneath by brushing them into the holes left by the vertidrainer or hollow corer. Soils can be improved and even exchanged by the application of a suitable top dressing and hollow coring program.
Direct seeding or over seeding is used to restore areas of the grass surface which have become sparse due to over use or heavy traffic, as well as maintaining or re-establishing the desired ratios of grass species in an individual playing surface. New grass species are being bred continually to develop disease resistance, faster recovery after play and better colour.
Direct seeding is often used in conjunction with top dressing hollow coring and vertidraining. At Tony Patterson Sportsgrounds we have both the larger machines for sports pitches as well as the smaller machines for golf clubs, and bowling greens. The over seeders we use place the seed directly into the turf giving the new seed the best possible chance for germination. The rollers attached to the machines ensure that the surface is left in an even and playable state immediately after use.
This system is now widely used in the U.K by most Premiership Clubs, Local Authorities and schools. There has been extensive and ongoing research into the best type of grass species for sports pitches. The desired grass species on a pitch is perennial ryegrass. This type of grass stands up to wear and tear better and recovers faster after play. If not looked after properly the pitches can become infested with weeds and meadow-grass (which is a comparatively shallow rooted grass).
Fraize mowing allows the removal of 90% of the organic material on the surface. Just 6mm of the surface material is removed. This leaves the majority of the root structure in place ready for immediate re-growth. It provides an ideal situation for direct seeding as the young grass plants do not have to compete as much with the existing tall grass.
This operation looks severe when carried out but the pitch can be completely recovered again with stronger, more desirable structure after only 8 weeks. Tony Patterson Sportsgrounds is one of the very few specialists in the industry that carries out this process.
Any green over time, if managed incorrectly, can develop a build up of organic matter in the upper soil profile. This thatch layer is undesirable. Not only does it produce a softer playing surface but it will hold water like a sponge, which discourages deep root growth and leads to a higher risk of turf grass disease. Aeration can modify the profile, by promoting the exchange of material which can effectively dilute this accumulation of thatch.
Hollow coring is one such process which removes some organic material from the green and in turn allows soil exchange to take place through top dressing. The process of hollow coring removes a ‘core’ or ‘plug’ from the existing soil to aerate the soil without damaging the playing surface. Used mainly on golf courses and bowling greens, it enables deeper rooting for fine fescues and bent grasses which provides better playing surfaces. Cores removed from the ground are lifted using a core harvester.
This process has minimum disruption with the holes either filled with a free draining top dressing, or left open which enables the surrounding soil to breakdown, opening the soil structure. It can also revitalise greens suffering from a build up of salts using soil exchange. It is calculated that after 16 treatments using 25mm diameter tines at 100mm centres, approx 96% of the green will have been removed and changed.
By scarifying and lifting the grass in a one pass operation, Tony Patterson Sportsgrounds inflict less damage to the surface. By scarifying at a close spacing it ensures that a good percentage of the undesirable vegetation is removed from the surface. It is recommended that the pitch be rested for 2 weeks afterwards.
Scarifying opens the surface ready for the next stage in the maintenance program, which recommends topdressing, verti-draining, direct seeding and fertilising.
Tony Patterson Sportsgrounds also specialise in synthetic pitch surfaces. These pitches may be synthetic, but to keep these state of the art playing surfaces in top condition, they still require a regular maintenance program. This depends on the nature of the surface, and can include brushing, watering and top dressing.