The Groundsman

April 2012

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52 MAINTENANCE CALENDAR MAY OPERATIONS Rugby Union • At the end of the playing season, it is important to carry out pitch renovation as soon as possible. This will allow for as long a period of establishment as possible. • Assuming there has been regular pitch use throughout the season, there will be a certain amount of compaction present within the soil profile; this will need to be alleviated by aeration. • Renovating a rugby pitch turf surface, through scarification, using a vibrating mole-plough, or by cleaning the surface layer to a depth of up to 40 mm ('Koroing') will prepare a surface for the receipt of renovation materials. • Don't delay applying a fertiliser if this has not been given in April. • The choice and quantity of grass seed will depend on a number of factors, in particular the condition of the pitch, the amount of expected use, the soil type and whether artificial irrigation is available to aid sward establishment. If grass seed is to be applied, at say an average rate of 25 g/m2 over the whole pitch, then there will be a need for about 7 x 25 kgs bags. • The amount of topdressing applied during renovation will vary considerably depending upon circumstances, but a typical amount might be 30 tonnes. Top dressings should be carefully worked into the sward surface to avoid smothering any grass. Rugby League • Cut regularly to encourage growth and sward thickening. • Irrigation should be recommissioned by this point and should be used if required. • Overseeding maybe required if temperatures dictate. Try to overseed by entering the surface to give the seed a higher chance of germination. The seed used will be dictated by budget, but try not to cut corners as this will be the foundation for your season. 25 g /m2 should be sufficient which works out at 7 bags. • A seed and soil mix to fill in untreated hollows in your surface may be required. • Drop the height of cut if necessary - 35-40 mm should be suitable depending on team requirements. • Keep on top of divoting as any untreated divots will have to be filled in. Golf courses • The spring fertiliser should have kicked in by now and the greens should be producing a fairly good grass coverage. • Mowing will typically be carried out five times per week, with the mowing height being around 5 mm. • Any areas on the green that haven't been successfully renovated should be targeted for completion. • Be careful not to verticut the greens too frequently as growth is still variable, with there still being the chance of either a cold or dry spell, as well as grass seedling establishment from any renovation work on the greens still being 'delicate'. • The irrigation system should be fully commissioned and ready for use by now. • If the greens weren't renovated until mid-late April due to the wet weather conditions, it should now be the turn of the tees, unless the grass tees were taken out of use over the winter period and renovated in the autumn. • Fairway divoting will be continuing, although with the demands on the greens and tees at this time of year this operation may need to take a back seat this month. • Another renovation task, if not already carried out, will be the reinstatement of worn traffic areas as the result of continuous winter use. • Towards the end of the month is usually a good time to carry out any selective herbicide applications, if needed. Racecourses • Mowing may peak at three times per week on occasions. • Don't neglect strimming around track posts as this will adversely affect the presentation of the course. • Irrigate as required to help produce the desired level of firmness of ground, i.e. the 'going', for flat racing courses and also to aid the establishment of renovated areas. • Consider using a ring-roller to firm and stripe the course; alternatively use a chain harrow with the smooth side downwards. • Divot and repair the course after each meeting. Typically this will be completed within 48 hours of the end of the meeting. • Other post-meeting repair work will include harrowing in the opposite direction as that of the race: - aeration - a light rolling the Groundsman April 2012 - hand forking of localised areas. • Weed control might be required on selected areas of the course, e.g. in front of the grandstand or the show paddock, or for ornamental lawns. • Summer bedding will probably be planted out around the grandstand, show paddock area etc towards the end of the month. Tennis • The season commences and compliments should be readily forthcoming from players at this time of year. • Roll the court to continue to firm the surface. • Mowing will be regular, typically three occasions per week, and the height of cut will now be at its lowest which is typically maintained throughout the summer months. • Apply artificial irrigation, as required. Dragbrush regularly to remove dew. • Use a spiked roller to maintain an aerated, yet consolidated, surface profile and to aid water infiltration. • Be careful not to verticut or groom too intensively, especially on areas of the court that may have been oversown in April. Football • The season is coming to an end and post-season renovation is the name of the game. Hopefully all materials and machinery (e.g. Vertidrain) have been ordered well in advance. • A 'typical' topdressing application rate of 5 kg/m2 6,000 m2 equates to 30 tonnes on a pitch. • The key to a successful renovation programme is to complete the task in as short a time as possible - don't forget the next season starts from mid-August onwards. • The application of a topdressing, typically sand, must be adequately incorporated into the existing soil profile: it is no use just applying it to the surface without a suitable form of aeration, otherwise this will only encourage rootzone layering and consequent summer dry spells can lead to poor establishment of the grass and the possible production of mini-dust bowls, especially on pitches without adequate irrigate - this could readily apply to many local authority pitches.

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