The Groundsman

February 2013

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30 AHEAD OF THE GAME the Groundsman February 2013 New creeping ryegrass Lessons in budget control Head groundsman at Farnborough Hill school, Dave Bell has to balance the maintenance of 65 acres of sports turf, mixed woodlands and gardens within a set budget. Colin Hoskins explains how Author: Colin Hoskins F Left to right Dave Bell with colleagues Nick Tunnicliffe and Simon Green The school facilities include a grass tennis court Visit for more information and digital editions arnborough Hill head groundsman Dave Bell certainly has his work cut out keeping everything in order and within budget at the school's 65-acre site in Hampshire. Charged with natural playing surfaces that include two hockey pitches, two football pitches (which swap to athletics in summer), one tennis court and a croquet lawn as well as grass car parking areas, 10 acres of mixed woodlands and up 10 acres of formal gardens, Dave has a modest budget (which excludes salaries) to keep everything in order. This includes machinery, servicing, seed, fertiliser, line marking paint and plants, as well as the cost of tree surgeons for major work and training for Dave and his team. "So, it really is a delicate balancing act to ensure the money is spent wisely in keeping the grounds at the best level we can all year round," he says. Also he admits that while the school and the bursar adopt a flexible and understanding attitude, the wide-ranging remit of the team's tasks also means that Dave and colleagues Nick Tunnicliffe and Simon Green have to be ready to undertake any number of different jobs depending on the time of year. This includes grass cutting, line marking, garden maintenance and tree work – including an occasional excursion onto the sports fields to chase off the Canadian geese. Top training Much of that expertise is gained 'on the job', though the team undergo training where appropriate. For instance, all members have completed mandatory courses in chainsaw use and spraying.

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