The Groundsman

February 2016

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MAINTENANCE CALENDAR 46 the Groundsman February 2016 Visit for more information and digital editions MARCH OPERATIONS Bowling green • Aerate whenever possible - usually with slit tines, although some greenkeepers will be moving over to solid tines. • The green might benefit from a light rolling to smooth the surface following the ravages of winter frosts etc. It is important to take a soil sample and check that the correct amount of moisture is available before commencing this operation. • Some greens in the south of England may be ready for a light topdressing at the end of the month, although be careful not to smother the grass. Ideally wait until April though if the bowls season starts early; on some greens this could pose a problem. • Commission the irrigation system before a typical dry spell appears. • Sweep and clean out ditches. Cricket square • Rolling and consolidation of the square should be the priority this month. Start with a relatively light roller, say 5 cwt, and gradually move up to a medium-heavy, say 30 cwt or so, one by the end of the month. • The square should be regularly drag brushed and the height of cut should be reduced to about 18 mm or so. • A light scarification may be possible if growth is reasonable, but be careful not to overdo this operation. • Ensure the square is correctly set out with the corners being at exact right angles. Cricket outfield • Check for any small undulations in the outfield and topdress them out. • Make any final repairs to worn areas especially in the bowlers' run up areas. Football • Keep the surface as presentable as possible by drag brushing and divoting as required. Light sand dressings on thin and bare areas may help to maintain a dry surface. • Aerate the pitch whenever possible. • Additional overmarking will probably be required where grass coverage is absent or sparse. • A light topping when the ground is dry will also help to improve appearances. Golf • Aerate whenever possible - usually with slit tines, although some greenkeepers will be moving over to solid tines for the end of the month. • The desire to topdress towards the end of March should in most cases be avoided. It is best to wait until good grass growth is occurring to help the material be incorporated as quickly as possible and with minimum interference to golfers. • Consider spending as much time as possible on the fairways, such as aeration, topping and divoting before the main spring renovation of the greens and winter tees. Racecourse • Re-commission the irrigation system. • Prepare for the start of the flat racing season by increasing the mowing frequency. • Be careful not to set the height of cut too low otherwise a cold spring will slow any grass regrowth. • Aerate if soil conditions permit. Rugby Union • Early spring growth could require the pitch to be topped. • Aerate if soil conditions permit. Do not aerate just because a pitch might not have had this operation carried out for some time, otherwise more harm than good will take place if soil conditions are unsuitable. • The end of season is now in sight so keeping the pitch playable is essential. Don't worry too much about excessive wear at this time of year as spring growth will start to 'kick-in' and will assist in slowing a thinning sward and may even increase overall coverage. Rugby League • The playing season should be underway. Weather conditions and damage from games will dictate what maintenance tasks need to be completed. • The most important tasks to complete are divoting to repair the surface and try to stand up as much grass as possible. • If the weather conditions are favourable then maybe you can apply seed and spring/summer feed. • With this the surface may also be drying up. If this is the case then a rolling may be required before it firms up too much. • On the amateur side, you will be coming towards the end of the season. Do not worry about too much damage now as spring is just around the corner. Keeping your pitch up to a standard to play on is the most important issue. Rolling of the surface before it dries out too much and leaves large ruts may be required, if soil and weather conditions allow. Constant divoting would also be helpful. Tennis • Solid tine aerate, if suitable conditions permit. • Start light rolling of the court. • An early 'false-spring' may require frequent topping of the grass, but be careful not to lower the height of cut too early. After a wet winter – and especially after a wet summer, too, pre-season work to synthetic pitches is as important as the pre-season work to natural surfaces. Over the winter, aggregate-based pitches expand as they soak in moisture from their surrounds, releasing compaction. This needs to be addressed before the season starts to ensure pitches continue to play well, and during March and April they should be rolled, with a light roller, to compact and squeeze the moisture out. If this is not carried out, more moisture will be absorbed in subsequent years and the base will rapidly deteriorate and the bounce will get lower and lower. Pitches without shockpads should have the surface fully removed and the aggregate levelled and compacted directly by raking and luting, as the base surface can be damaged by ball impacts from the previous season. A little annual care and attention may save the cost of having to employ specialists to rectify a major problem in the future. Contributed by Peter Dury, Verde Sports Cricket, Synthetic cricket pitches need preparation, too

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