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Monday, October 13, 2008

Wicket maintenance stuff

What with it being Autumn I'm currently continuing with my wicket maintenance madness. At the minute the field is being used by footballers, but so far the damage they've been inflicting is minimal as the field only gets used the once I think on Sunday, although saying that they may have trained on it Saturday as well this week.

I'm researching grass/lawn maintenance at the moment in preparation for the summer and I've just come across some info relating to cutting the grass - This extract has been lifted from -

Perfect Mowing

Keep it High The first guideline is mowing high. A lawn kept clipped at the correct height has more food producing ability, is able to stay greener, reduces weeds, and conserves water by shading the soil. Weed and fescues need plenty of sun and heat to sprout. Because of this, taller grass is one of the best weed presenters you can use. Shading the soil by mowing higher also reduces water loss from evaporation.

Cutting too short or too much off at once is scalping. When you set the blade too low, you may remove most of the food producing parts of the plant. The result is a brown lawn that takes weeks and weeks to recover.

Mowing frequency is the second rule to keeping your lawn in top condition. During periods of heavy growth, once a week may not be enough, while every ten days might be fine during the summer. The key to mowing frequency is to never remove more than 1/3 of the total blade height in a single mowing. This then begs the question - if you want the grass really short - and you're cutting 1/3 off each time you mow the grass - how long do you let the grass recover before you can cut it again? As if you leave it too long it'll recover it's length again and you'll not be getting it any shorter?

A Sharp Blade = A Sharper Looking Lawn. Blunt blades apparently stress your lawn. Another point is to not mow the grass when it's wet.

I reckon there's a few things I've picked up there that are useful. Cutting the wicket back in Sept so short was obviously not such a clever move in hindsight, but I reckon it's pretty much recovered. Looking at some of the fields that I've practiced on last year - 5 tree field for instance, there's no evidence there that we ever were there and wore the grass out in the way that we did. The grass it's obvious has self repaired and is it pretty good shape. It's the same with the practice wicket in the corner of the field of Valence Way wicket. This summer that took a real pounding but already it's recovered on it's own more or less with a little help from me (seeds and some good earth to level it).

I've shot some weddings recently at golf courses and been amazed at the quality of the grass on the putting greens, it's amazingly dense and carpet like when you look at it closely - how on earth do they get it like that? Reading between the lines it does sound as though mixing the grass types is part of the answer and all the other techniques like tining. I know looking around websites that when they refurbish bowling greens and the likes they really are agressive with the scraping out of dead grass that lays around the roots. Obviously I can't do that so I've just got to work as discreetly as possible with the what I've got and in a way that is as non-intrusive as I can?

I've also come across this at

Browntop Bentgrass (Agostis capillaris) The main bent grass used in the UK. A perennial that spreads with short rhizomes and occasionally by stolons. Predominantly used for fine sports turf and any close mown area.
Chewings Fescue (Festuca rubra commutata) A much used grass in fine sports turf. It is densly tufted but does not infill bare patches due to it lack of rhizomes. Quick germinating, wear tolerant and desease resistant.
Hard Fescue (Festuca longifolia) Good for close mowing and has ability to stand abrasive wear. It is more suited to dry infertile soils, particularly when mixed with red fescue. There is no production of rhizomes so hard fescue is not particularly suitable to winter sports turf or areas of intense wear.
Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne) This is the major turgrass species (particularly dwarf varieties) in the UK for hardwearing sports turf due to it's fast establishment rate, vigorous growth and high wear tolerance.
Slender Creeping Red Fescue (Festuca rubra litoralis) Densly tufted, fine leaved and low growing. This grass does very well in a closely mown turf. Once established it stands up well to abrasive wear and with closely packed tillers, spread by fine and slender rhizones, it is quick to recover from heavy damage.
Small Leaved Timothy (Phleum pratense bertolonii) Sometimes used in winter sports turf that receive heavy wear. Produces few stolons but is very tolerant of wet, heavy soils and blends well with both fescues and bentgrass in colour and texture. A very useful grass on difficult clays.
Sheeps fescue (Festuca tenuflia) Not suitable in sports turf due to its odd groth habit of forming unsightly swirly patterns.
Smooth Stalked Meadowgrass (Poa partensis) This grass can be slow to establish but once it has it is extremely hard wearing and persistant. It spreads by means of slender creeping rhizomes that quickly infill damaged open areas. It does best on fertile chalk or limestone soils and is very drought tolerant.
Strong Creeping Red Fescue (Festuca rubra rubra) Not tollerant of very close mowing but very good for knitting a winter sports turf together with its very long, slender, creeping rhizomes. More suited to chalk and limestone soils Tall Fescue (Festuca arundinacea) Not suitable in sports turfs as it forms large dense tussocks and has very course leaves.

There's a load more info here too...

1.00 Kg Golf Putting Green. 100% Bentgrass

Click to enlarge
Brief Guide: To produce a short, dense and consistent playing surface.Sowing Rate: 50-100 grams per sq metre (2-3 oz per sq yard)Mixture: 75% certified Common Bent agrostis capillaris 25% certified Browntop Bent agrostis tenuis
Additional Information:Good preparation is essential when creating a putting green. The area to be sown must be exactly the shape, size and density required before the seed is applied. Cutting should take place a minimum of 4 times per week to maintain a quality putting surface and on competition sites this may be increased to twice a day. This mixture is also very suitable for the maintainence of established putting greens. Use at half the recommended sowing rate when overseeding but cover the entire area for a more uniform colour match. For further information on Golf Greens see our Grass Matters site
Adobe Reader PDF File 2008 FULL PRICE LIST.
This product was added to our catalog on Friday 20 June, 2008.

This looks like the kind of thing I should be doing now at this time of year - Overseeding lawns

Up to a quarter of your lawn might die each year. Sowing new lawn seed into your existing lawn may dramatically improve its appearance as well as reduce weed invasion. To do this then follow these steps.

1) When the lawn is dry cut the grass very short.

2) Select a suitable seed mixture.

3) Ideally sow after a good fall of rain.

4) Mix the seed in a bucket with a general purpose compost.

5) Broadcast the seed over the area to be improved.

6) Rake the area well so that the seed gets in contact with soil.

7) Roll lightly afterwards

8) If possible keep of area where the grass is to establish.

9) If dry weather follows then water with a fine mist.

10) When grass is 2-3 inches high cut for the first time. Trim lightly and steadily increase depth to appropriate height.

Here's even more detail -
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