Pitch Perfect - Part 2
Welcome to blog number two for Kent Groundsmen, written by award winning K Sports Head Groundsman, Scott Byers.
Hello to you all again
After moving on from the difficult summer for pitch improvement’s, my team and I are now looking forward to another long and busy season here at K Sports.
Like many of you our pitches haven’t had a full renovation during the summer which makes for a challenging start to the season. Managing a pitch with limited resources can be extremely difficult especially without having the required maintenance carried out during the off season.
My grounds team and I have been working hard to try to improve the condition of the playing surfaces during the off season with the resources we have available. Prioritising the work load between 6 pitches has been very difficult but we are pleased with the small improvements we have made.
Top dressing, over seeding and feeding has been our priority during the late summer as we look to prepare our pitches for the season ahead. The recent weather conditions of rainfall, morning dew and warm temperatures make for perfect growing conditions. If you do have top dressing and seed available, use these recent conditions to your advantage and carry out any early repairs.
Goal mouths are usually the most difficult area of the pitch to maintain. Like many of you, our goal mouths are often damaged after just a few matches and repairing them is extremely difficult due to the constant pitch usage. Last season we simply asked teams to avoid using the goal mouths during pre-match warm ups and this did help to prolong the condition of the area. Fortunately for us we maintain our surrounding areas to a similar cutting height to our pitches which means teams can warm up on the surrounding off pitch areas. Warm ups can be very damaging as a small area of the pitch is often being used week in week out.
As you can see in the picture below after just 2 weeks we already have areas showing signs of wear due to pre-match warm ups
Having a positive and understanding relationship with home teams and managers can be very beneficial. Managers and coaches will want the best playing surface possible throughout the season so it’s important they respect the pitch throughout. Not only is it important to maintain the surface to the highest standard possible but also to ensure the pitch is safe for the players.
Further into the season the weather conditions are likely to become more challenging which again will encourage further wear to our pitches. It’s important we apply the correct fertilisers to allow for stronger root growth and a healthier plant.
Our main tips as we move further into the season are:
• Try to encourage managers and coaches to use off pitch areas for pre-match warm ups to help prolong the quality of the surface throughout the season
• If you have top dressing, seed or fertiliser available try to make good use of the current weather conditions before temperatures start to drop
• As we move forward and conditions become more challenging, try to ensure you are using the appropriate fertilisers for the time of year. For example, during the winter it’s important to encourage strong root growth
As mentioned in the previous edition, try to carry out Verti draining during the Autumn/Winter months as this will help avoid compaction and provide healthier and deeper root growth. If you don’t have access to a Verti Drainer then any sort of aeration, including hand forking, can only benefit your pitches especially in those high wear areas.
I wish you all the best for the months ahead
Head Groundsman at K Sports.
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.