With competitions in most countries to resume in the coming weeks, here are some tips to get grass pitches ready for the start of the new season.
Re-introduce frequent mowing. In order to maintain the health of the grass plant, it is important to only ever remove 1/3 of the existing leaf blade. Where possible, aim to mow once or twice per week in order to maintain a thicker sward. Keeping the grass a little longer will help with root growth, particularly when the plant is under stress (heat, drought, cultural practices) because the longer the grass, the deeper the roots.
The presence of thatch is not a bad thing immediately. It all depends on the use of the facility. As long as the thatch is not causing a problem, don’t waste too much time on removing it. Regular thatch control is a task that can be incorporated into your maintenance plan. It’s important that thatch is kept under control because too much of it will prevent water and nutrients moving through the soil profile, limiting root growth.
Aeration will help support healthy turf if you choose the right time and conditions to aerate; if it is too dry, the tines won’t properly enter the soil. If it is too wet, you will end up causing more damage.
Try to understand why you are aerating; this means understanding that soil is a combination of mineral and organic matter as well as all-important air and water. For those working with only a garden fork, applying too much ‘heave’ will damage the structure of the soil. The key here is to remember that you are not digging up the soil, rather simply relieving compaction.
Properly managing resources will ensure that you are organised in your work and will help you achieve the best results. Start by keeping a simple diary of work carried out – this will prove invaluable in the future when looking back at when work was carried out, how much time was spent on it and most importantly, whether it had an impact.
Another key task of resource management is to carry out checks on your machinery before and after use. This is simply about maintaining your equipment because without it, you can’t work and without your work, the game can’t be played. A rough annual maintenance on machinery can help with the planning of budgets.
The annual maintenance plan
When it comes to the ordering of resources during renovation periods, think about what it is you want to achieve during the following season and plan from there. It is all very well saying you want to achieve a suitable playing surface, but what will you write in to your plan to achieve that?
This article was produced with input from the Grounds Management Association (GMA)