WELCOME TO BLOG NUMBER THREE FOR KENT GROUNDSMEN, WRITTEN BY AWARD WINNING K SPORTS HEAD GROUNDSMAN, SCOTT BYERS
Hello to the groundsman across Kent once again.
I would like to start by saying thanks to the Kent FA for a fantastic awards night earlier this month where volunteers are rewarded for their hard work and dedication to grassroots football.
I would also like to thank my team here at K Sports, we were nominated, and won the Kent FA 2018 Groundsman of the Year award.
October has been an extremely busy month for the team here at K Sports.
Our continued hard work is now beginning to be rewarded, as we now have two national league teams using our facility full time & the pitch usage is exceptionally high. Some of our grass pitches are already at 50 usages & trying to keep them maintained to the high standards expected is challenging.
Earlier this month we began renovation works to improve the playing surfaces.
- Verti draining – maximum depth achieved 12” (30cm)
- Over seeding – best advice, purchase the best seed your budget allows
- Application of 80 tonnes of silica sports sand – round sand particles
With pitch usage high and works taking place during season, we needed swift results, we were rewarded with great weather, fantastic support from our suppliers, and from the clubs we work with at K Sports.
Below are some pictures of the work we carried out & the progress we made.
1. Silica Sports Sand.
2. Fertiliser Ready - 12 bags per pitch.
3. 10 Days Later.
4. Pitches Prepared.
We had germination after just 6 days thanks to the ideal weather conditions and selecting ‘quick germinating’ grass seed from our supplier.
With just 10 days until the next scheduled fixtures the most difficult challenge has been reducing the usage to allow the roots to establish. We didn’t want teams playing matches or training on the pitches until the roots were strong enough. Ideally when these works are normally carried out the pitches can be rested for anywhere between 6-12 weeks dependant on schedule, but we didn’t have this time available. We had to really utilise the last few weeks of growing season.
Our main objectives for the late renovation works were to increase grass coverage, eliminate divots & pitting in high wear areas, and to improve the overall quality of the pitches.
Since the late renovation work has taken place, like many of you we have experienced our first light frost and temperatures are dropping.
Over the next few weeks we will be raising our cutting heights to 28mm-30mm to provide the pitches with some extra protection. With the growing season coming to an end, and winter fast approaching, its vitally important we prepare the pitches as best we can.
• Aiming to have a strong, dense, healthy sward, going into the autumn and winter, will reward us over those cold, low light winter months with a prolonged playing surface.
Increasing cutting heights, applying winter fertilisers to encourage strong root growth & Verti draining are all good practices to prolong the quality of the pitch throughout the winter months.
Our main tips for the months ahead are:
• Avoid using heavy rollers these will only compact your pitches further & cause more problems during wet conditions.
• Verti Draining will reduce compaction and aid stronger root growth which is particularly important during the winter months. If you are unable to Verti drain, slitting can also be effective.
• Increase your cutting height during the winter months to give your pitch further protection. This is particularly important for those of you who have extremely high pitch usage.
Ultimately as groundsman, our job is to ensure that pitches are playable all season long despite working in challenging weather conditions particularly during the winter months. Naturally our pitches will start to show signs of wear as we go deeper into the season with wet weather & high usage both having an effect.
Always remember that player’s safety is the priority and if the pitch genuinely isn’t playable don’t be afraid to postpone a match. Like many of you cancelling fixtures is last resort for us, and can be very disappointing, although if it means protecting the pitch and preventing further damage in the weeks ahead then it’s the correct decision. Games can always be played further down the line and I’m sure managers and coaches will agree with the decision especially if there’s any doubt regarding player’s safety.
Good luck to you all & enjoy the challenges ahead.
If you have any questions for Scott or you would like your pitch to be part of the FA Pitch Improvement Programme please email Football Development Manager, Lee.Suter@kentfa.com.