Our pitches have suffered from waterlogging and worm casts. We experienced a large number of cancellations due to waterlogging in the 2019/20 season. We also had to spend a considerable sum booking the Uckfield 3G pitch to fulfil our fixtures. So we commissioned a Pitch Improvement Programme report from the Sussex FA.
The report recommends:
- improving the drainage;
- renovation aimed at producing a thick grass sward;
- fertiliser programme for spring / summer and autumn / winter.
We want to follow the report’s recommendations with the aims of:
- improving the quality of the playing surface;
- reducing postponement of matches;
- allowing for the hosting of one more adult team (hopefully a women’s team) and hopefully another junior team.
This will be a six year project for us which we are calling our Pitch Improvement Project. The costs of doing everything we want to are considerable. We will be keeping a photo diary of the works below with more photographs stored here.
We are tracking pitch usage and postponements here.
We had a nasty shock in the autumn when we discovered that we had a chafer bug infestation. The wildlife had stripped back the turf to get to the bugs. This caused considerable damage and we had to play our U11s games away for the second half of the season. We repaired the damage using rootzone mix and A30 grass seed.
We were also lucky enough to receive a grant from the Football Foundation which, together with funds raised by the club and community, allowed us to purchase a turf grooming tractor attachment called a quadraplay.
We have been very fortunate to receive a grant from the Football Foundation for the six year pitch improvement project and a grant from the Gatwick Airport Community Trust for pitch works. So we have started on our six year project. Vertidraining was the first major job performed in October, quickly followed by fertiliser and clear cast. The vertidraining certainly improved the way the pitch drained through the season. We overseeded the green in April using PRG Seed Mix Eurosport, Europitch, Berlioz and Monroe supplied by TT Supplies and a contractor called Peter Mannington.
The pitches are looking fabulous. They are in the best condition we’ve seen them in for many years. This is mostly due to the hard work of Hamish Norris. These efforts have been recognised in the latest Pitch Power report from the Football Foundation which rated all our pitches as “good” (we started with a rating of “basic”).
This season Hamish has been regularly cutting the grass and using the turf grooming Quadraplay attachment. This, together with the reseeding and fertiliser applied last season, seems to have made a big improvement to the grass coverage, health of the grass and the drainage.
27-Feb-23 We've just had the green vertidrained again.
18-May-23 We had all the pitches overseeded on 3-May-23. A tractor with a disc-seeder on the back planted 380kg of grass seed. We've had near perfect weather for germination and the seed is up and away! If you look along the slot line you can see new grass of a slightly different colour.
21-Aug-23 There were a large number of plantain plants on the playing surface at the Green. These weeds have broad spreading leaves which block the sunlight to the grass and they spread rapidly when they seed. They result in bare patches of earth in the winter. The photograph below is of a section of the 11v11 pitch on 30-Jun-23. The weed coverage was close to exceeding 10% (it might just have exceeded it). The plantain coverage was not being reduced by the cultural controls (they had just spread too much). There were too many of them to remove by hand. It was felt that a selective amenity herbicide designed for this environment was the right thing to use to get on top of these weeds and to stop further spreading. It was applied on 21-Aug-23 and most of the plantains have been removed.
The Football Foundation funding has been provided to improve the quality rating of our pitches to at least “Good”. Their expectation is that in September a “Good” rated pitch should have no more than 10% weed coverage and have at least a 75% grass coverage. The football club and FGMC have signed up to this project.
It is widely recognised that herbicides are not good for biodiversity and the environment in general. It is hoped that the cultural methods will now be sufficient to keep the weeds at bay at the Green.