The Groundsman

February 2014

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MAINTENANCE CALENDAR 47 the Groundsman February 2014 Visit for more information and digital editions Maintaining the pitches at Chippenham Town Council's Stanley Park Sports Ground during the winter months is basically determined by what Mother Nature throws at us. Despite careful forethought and planning by grounds staff, ably led by Nigel Harvey, we need to be flexible in our approach and adapt and change our methods when required. Before starting any maintenance works, we adopt a primary month by month, and secondary week by week back-up programme of key tasks ensuring that all resources are available with machinery serviced and in good working order. During January, February and March work will involve manually forking/aerating, applying a 70/30 sand soil mix to worn areas, deep slitting and verti-draining when conditions suit, brushing or drag matting pitches in addition to string marking each and every pitch to ensure quality is maintained. The week-on-week programme comes into effect when we have prolonged periods of bad weather, particularly heavy bouts of rain. During this time the staff still complete manual aeration by forking where possible and apply a mixed 70/30 sand where needed. Although at times it is just a case of simply staying off the pitches all together thus preventing any further wear or compaction of the pitch. Wear and tear to the multi-pitch site, which is home to 92 teams, has to be kept to a minimum. One key to our success is pitch rotation, which also ensures that spectators do not tread the same ground as this can cause more damage than the actual play on the pitches. The grounds team utilises 'keep off the pitch' days by checking and servicing machinery and ensuring that their work stations are prepped, in order and ready to go. Daily weather forecast monitoring and site walk rounds are performed between one and three times a day - depending on the weather and circumstances. This enables an 'on-the-spot' work plan to be devised to tackle those worst areas. The team check all drainage outlets are clear and suitably flowing and ensure that footballs and litter are not obstructing at any key points. Checks on surrounding trees for debris and potential hazards caused by adverse weather are routinely undertaken and in addition regular core soil samples are taken from various points across the 38-acre facility. If activity is cancelled on a In the first of our new series of top turf care tips from IOG members, grounds manager and IOG award winner Pete Hussey shares his winter pitch maintenance programme Winter pitch maintenance at Stanley Park Sports Ground grass pitch for a week or longer then the spot line-marking of pitches is key to make sure that the full pitch markings are not lost and more work at a later date is needed. In January, Nigel and myself get the out-of-season 'in house' renovation machinery booked and we set up dates for meetings with supplier representatives for our close season pitch requirements. We also review the one-to-five-year machinery replacement programme. A significant issue is handling the telephone enquiries regarding whether the pitches are playable. The team has to sometimes make difficult decisions by calling off games or moving them to our 3G synthetic pitch which could mean that the pitches are available for the next few weekends. Our users respect our decision though as, week in and week out they get to enjoy first-class quality playing surfaces in a superb setting. l TOP TIPS Pete Hussey (right) and Nigel Harvey Ensure drainage outlets are clear

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