Pitch Perfect - Blog 4
WELCOME TO BLOG NUMBER FOUR FOR KENT GROUNDSMEN, WRITTEN BY AWARD WINNING K SPORTS HEAD GROUNDSMAN, SCOTT BYERS
Hello again to all the Groundsman across Kent.
In this month’s edition we take a look into the maintenance of 3G pitches and in particular the maintenance programme of our 3G pitch here at K Sports.
3G pitches divide opinion across groundsman, players and other interested parties, with many people believing they encourage injuries & don’t provide a natural bounce or roll of the ball. Others believe they are very much the future of the game that generates good income for companies & businesses alike.
Regardless of the opinions surrounding 3G pitches it’s vitally important that groundsman maintain the surface as best they can. 3G pitches are expensive to install and to ensure that they last the expected life span it is important to have an effective maintenance programme in place.
Today we will look into the following points and focus on our usage & maintenance programme here at K Sports: -
- Regular Maintenance
- Deep Cleaning
- Chemical Applications
- Weather Conditions
- Infill Levels
Just like our natural pitches here at K Sports our 3G pitch receives high usage 7 days a week. Hours of usage do vary depending on FA courses, K Sports youth teams and any other bookings we take. We regularly receive positive feedback on the condition of our 3G surface thanks to our maintenance programme. General rule of thumb is to brush/drag mat the pitch for every 10 hours of usage it receives. Considering our schedule on a weekly basis we aim to brush our 3G pitch most days (weather permitting) to provide the best playing surface possible for the players and coaches. Brushing your pitch regularly should help to maintain a consistent distribution of rubber infill, raise the carpet pile and aid in the removal of any rubbish or waste, such as leaf’s, dirt & debris. Like many of you any maintenance programme might well depend on your staffing levels and the time you have available.
With usage being extremely high on most artificial surfaces the rubber particles do become flat & compacted over time. De-compaction agitates the surface which will help to remove contamination, aid drainage, provide a better feel under foot & most importantly helps the pile remain upright. Carrying out de-compaction will also help to maintain the aesthetic qualities of the pitch.
Deep cleaning is vitally important to help maintain the pitch to the highest standards possible. Over time a build-up of dirt, moss & debris can not only affect the colour & presentation of your pitch but also the performance. Deep cleaning will help to ensure you get the best performance out of your 3G pitch. Unfortunately despite brushing regularly here at K Sports, this is not effective enough to tackle these problems. We carry out our deep cleaning quarterly along with our daily/weekly maintenance programme to ensure the pitch is performing at its best.
Like many of you we have problems with weeds particularly around the perimeter of our 3G pitch & we aim to monitor this carefully throughout the Year. Moss is another issue which should be monitored and treated regularly. Both weeds and moss can pose a health and safety risk to players, look unsightly and increase the wear and tear of the surface.
These need to be removed as soon as possible to prevent contamination along with any other undesirable materials which you may find. Many contractors will treat the perimeters as part of an agreed maintenance programme. There are many chemicals on the market so it’s extremely important you select the most appropriate chemical for your particular surface for moss and weed removal; the cheapest price isn’t always the best option.
Contamination from other sources like chewing gum and even animal faeces on the pitch should be removed as soon as possible.
Many people deem 3G & artificial pitches as ‘all weather surfaces’ but unfortunately this certainly isn’t the case. Artificial pitches retain moisture which in lower temperatures will eventually freeze making the surface very firm and unsafe to play on. As groundsman it is our responsibility to ensure the pitches are safe and playable throughout these difficult weather conditions. In recent times we have seen some heavy snowfall and there has been many debates about whether it is a good idea to clear snow from a 3G pitch. Going by our experience here at K Sports we let our pitch thaw naturally. This does mean the pitch is losing money & is unplayable until the snow clears, but we certainly weren’t going to attempt to clear our pitch. Apart from the risk of damaging the carpet there was also the logistics of where we put the removed snow and the labour requirements to carry out the clearance. Once the snow has frozen onto the surface it should not be disturbed as this could seriously damage the carpet. Freezing conditions can even have a negative effect on our daily/weekly maintenance programmes & brushing/drag matting should be delayed in these conditions.
For every match, training session or usage on a 3G pitch the rubber infill is being reduced. Rubber infill on 3G pitches is very important as this helps to hold the artificial grass fibres upright which should then help to give the pitch a better feel under foot. Ideally the infill should be topped up every 1-2 Years depending on usage which should then help to prolong the life expectancy of your 3G.
Best of luck to you all over the festive period!
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.