Rugby & Football Pitch Maintenance
The following notes are taken from the Football Foundation notes. Much more detailed notes can be found at Sports England see link below. Whilst produced by the Football foundation they are equally true for Rugby fields.
The quality of Football pitch maintenance during and after the playing season is easily the most critical factor in providing a playing surface that is fit for purpose and that lasts. The demand and expectation for good quality grassed pitches is ever growing and funding may be available from the Football Foundation for the provision of appropriate maintenance equipment.
The annual maintenance of winter pitches is not only important in improving the quality and quantity of sport played at a site, but is also important in reducing injuries to players. Whenever possible a robust maintenance programme should be implemented and procedures outlined below should be regarded as routine and incorporated into the year round maintenance programme.
Mowing- Regular mowing is critical in developing a satisfactory sward particularly during the growing season. The height of cut should be kept at between 25 to 37 mm all year round.
Fertiliser application-Around April or early May an application of fertiliser will assist in promoting growth and recovery after being in use over the winter months.
Sand Top Dressing-Helps maintain a sandy upper profile thereby maximising rates of surface drainage. Application should be made each Spring and the sand should be well worked into the base of the sward to avoid smothering the turf. This treatment is critical if a sand slit system has been introduced.
Over Seeding- Normally some over seeding will be necessary as part of the renovation programme during spring. As a minimum the main worn areas should receive this treatment.
Weed control- Well maintained pitches and should not require the application of the selective herbicide on an annual basis. But a treatment every few years may be required to keep weed levels under control. Spraying of selective herbicides is carried out in early summer when both the weeds and Grasses are growing strongly to help resultant bare areas infill with grass.
Worm Control- Where Worms become a problem chemicals are available to optimise control. These are best applied in mild moist weather most likely during the autumn and spring when the Worms are active near the surface.
Winter work- For best results it is necessary to carry out maintenance work throughout the playing season. During the winter months the use of tractor mounted equipment should be limited. The ground is rarely dry enough to support a tractor without some damage to the playing surface. Heavy rolling should be avoided as this causes compaction but light rolling can be beneficial on occasion to smooth the surface. This should only be done when the ground is just moist and not when wet or dry
Renovation- This needs to be carried out promptly at the end of the playing season in order to produce a healthy sward within a short time available before the start of the next playing season. Even in a good year there is barely sufficient time and those areas that are not promptly dealt with will start the next season with an already weakened sward.