Patches and Thatches

Grass is one the most resilient plants on the planet. Natural grasslands are found across the globe and can survive the harshest of conditions including wildfires, drought, flooding and frost.

Your lawn is no different; moss, compaction, pets and children can all put extra strain on your grass but somehow, with a little help from us, it always finds a way to recover.

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To tackle bare patches on your lawn, the easiest method is to first clear the grass of any debris, such as leaves. You can do this by raking the grass, which will also help to aerate the ground, allowing essential light, air and moisture to reach the soil beneath.

Then, scatter a layer of top soil over the patchy areas. Next, sprinkle some grass seed evenly over the patches. Take care not to overload the ground with seeds, there should be a nice even spread without the seeds being too close to each other.

It is a good idea to scatter a little more top soil over the seeds at this point, but be careful not to cover them completely as this will block out too much light. Covering the seeds in this way means they are better protected from birds, although you might want to consider taking other precautions against birds, too, such as hanging empty tin cans that will rattle in the breeze or making your own scarecrow!

Finally, water your newly sown seeds regularly using a watering can with a fine rose head – a hose or watering can without a rose head will be too strong and wash away the seeds.

Thatchy Lawnsthatch

Thatch is a common problem in many lawns. It can go unnoticed because it is usually underneath the top blades of grass, but can become worse if left untreated.

Thatch is a build-up of dead and living debris, shoots and roots that occurs in-between the layers of soil and grass. A little thatch in a lawn can be beneficial, but too much and the grass on top will start to root into the thatch and not into the soil beneath. This causes the soil underneath to become extremely dry and compact.

Scarifying is the term given to the process of getting rid of this thatch. By hand or with a rake it is a daunting, exhausting task, but there are machines available for this very task.

The steel blades of a scarifier de-thatch your grass using a cutting action, resulting in a firmer lawn that allows a better passage of air and nutrients into the ground. Use the blades of a scarifier to also cut into the soil, opening up the surface, making it ideal to then scatter new grass seed.

This cutting action also helps to ‘prune’ your lawn – unlike mowing which cuts the grass across, scarifiers cut downwards – and just like pruning a shrub, this process causes new shoots to grow from the base, thickening your lawn and encouraging that firm, lush green finish that we all strive for.

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Racecourse maintenance is not just a one-horse race

We are still trying to catch our breath from the excitement of Cheltenham Festival last month, and the Grand National is already nearly upon us!

On the big day, (8th April), understanding the surface of the race course is crucial, and can make the difference between winning and losing. How the track performs as dozens of horses’ hooves thunder along can determine how fast or how slow the race is run and jockeys, trainers, bookmakers, racegoers and groundsmen will all be paying attention.

The majority of race courses in this country are turf, with just a small number opting to use a surface made from a mixture of sand and synthetic fibres.

When the going gets good…

For turf race courses, the race can be affected by the ‘going’. The going refers to the state of the race course surface and how firm or soft it is.  Heavy – Soft – Good to Soft – Good – Good to Firm – Firm, that all depends on the moisture content in the ground, something which has to be closely monitored and maintained by groundsmen.

Generally, the softer the ground, the more water it contains and the slower the pace of the race will be.  Some horses prefer it that way, but most prefer a slightly harder ground so that they can run faster. Think of it like running through sand – wet sand can feel like trying to wade through mud and can be far more tiring.

Making sure the surface is not too heavy or too dry depends on year-round work. Aeration, drainage, fertilizing, irrigation, rolling and seeding are just some of the tasks needed to nurture the perfect course.

Maintaining a race course isn’t just about the track; there are parade rings, lawned gardens, hedges, flower beds and hanging baskets to look after as well, all of which require care and attention throughout the year.  Cheltenham_racecourse_(13177855375)

Raking Over The Ashes

Not many people realise the amount of time and effort that goes into preparing a cricket ground at the end of each season, ready for the new one.

In fact, work begins on the field the very next day after the last action of the season has been played in September, and continues throughout winter, right up to just before the seasons begins once again.cricket-724614_1280

First, a heavy duty scarifier works its magic on the grass, digging up the cricket square in different directions to keep an even level, get rid of organic matter and prepare the ground for a new seed bed.

Once that is complete, the square is then brushed and completely flooded ready for reseeding and top-dressing. That is when the cricket square starts to get that perfectly flat, earthy appearance.

Then the square is quickly put to bed for winter. Once the grass has germinated, it is monitored, drained and cut regularly up until the start of the playing season.

It is important to ensure that the ground can drain well, as floods and water-logging are common in between seasons. This involves deep spiking of surface, (our aerators are perfect for this!) going down as far as eight or nine inches, to help air and water move freely within the ground.

With uncertain weather conditions, cricket pitch groundsman are always keen to get the initial work done as quickly as possible, so that the aftermath of any bad weather or flooding can soon be dealt with effectively to ensure matches can go ahead in the new season.

Howzat!

Reap What You Mow

Groundscare men and women are often overlooked when it comes to sports and community playing fields. Maintaining a large area of turf is no easy task – it requires planning, hard work and specialist equipment to get the job done.

Just like sports itself, a lot of time and effort goes in to making sure the pitches and playing fields are looking and performing at their best.

One team that made headlines last year was Leicester City FC, not just for their fairytale Premier League winning season but also for the hard work of head groundsman, John Ledgwidge. Throughout the season, Leicester’s pitches took on all manor of designs.

For example, to mark Remembrance Day, the groundscare team at Leicester City FC’s King Power Stadium meticulously cut poppy shapes into an extravagant pattern on the pitch – and not a blade of grass was out of place.

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What a wonderful, touching tribute to all those who have served our country, past and present.

It got us thinking – nowadays much more care and attention is paid to the quality of a playing surface, gone are the days when teams, rugby and football players alike, had to turn out to play on pitches like this…

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You would be hard-pushed to find a pitch in a state like this today, even at semi and non-professional sports grounds.

The Institute of Groundsmanship strives to promote quality surfaces and services throughout the UK. Founded in 1934 by W H Bowles BEM, head groundsman at Eton College, the IOG is recognised by the National Governing Bodies of Sport and the public, private and voluntary sectors for its industry knowledge and technical expertise.

Groundscare teams up and down the country have been recognised in the Institute of Groundsmanship’s Industry Awards 2016. This time, the Football Grounds Team of the Year Award went to Tottenham Hotspur FC, with Leicester City FC scooping the award in the previous year. The IOG Industry Awards also recognise students who have made promising and commendable progress on their first steps to a career in the field, helping to strengthen and encourage the profession in the future.

Pitch perfect!

When looking after large playing fields, it is important to maintain the surface as best as possible during the winter months. This will save you work in the long run and keep the playing surface consistent for matches and training all year round.

It is a good idea to keep cutting the grass during January. Be careful not to overcut, however, as this can ‘stress’ the grass, inhibit growth and expose it to disease and fungi. We would recommend maintaining a height of approximately 25-30mm.

Aeration is vital to the health of a pitch. It allows air do get down into the soil, easing the pressure between the soil particles and allowing rainwater to reach the grass roots.

To achieve this on a large scale like a football pitch or school playing field, you will be need the right machine for the job. Billy Goat’s AE1300H 30” Hydro Aerator has been designed with precisely this task in mind.

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The AE1300H 30” Hydro Aerator combines true 30” wide aeration and speed up to 4.3 mph to complete a quarter of an acre in as little as 15 minutes! It is also built with ‘in-ground turning’, meaning you don’t have to lift the machine to turn corners, you can aerate in reverse, do trim and edges with ease and significantly improve hole quantity and quality vs. that of drum aerators.

The AE1300H also features Patent Pending Variable Aeration Density (VAD™), to create 2-10 times more holes and drum models in one pass. This will save you a significant amount of time, because there is no need to aerate two or three times like you would normally have to with a drum aerator. VAD™ also offers you the ability to do patch repair and seed bed prep in one pass by simply slowing down over bare spots.

We love this machine, it offers unrivaled maneuverability, fatigue-free, one-man crew operation and improved production. It also has independently moveable arms that drive plug depths up to two times that of drum aerators.

In no time at all, your pitch will be aerated and compaction-free, ready for the warmer temperatures in March when the grass (and the footballs!) will be kicked back into life.

Don’t procrastinate, rake and aerate!

 

At this time of year, it is fair to say your turf may not be looking at its best. Bare patches are starting to appear, the soil feels hard, rain isn’t draining very quickly and there is a buildup of matted thatch and moss. Billy Goat has a range of power rakes and aerators designed to combat these problems, requiring minimal elbow grease from you!

We know that maintaining a large area of grass is a big commitment, so we’re not surprised that you’re looking for solutions that are fast, reliable and involve minimal effort.

Now is a good time to act, you can eliminate these problems and get your lawn in a healthy shape ready for the spring and summer.

Billy Goat’s power rakes, including the PR550, removes thatch from turf in 20” passes, and its rugged design withstands the most demanding use. It is also self-propelled, reducing energy and effort needed to control it.pr550

Additionally, because it is sturdier than other scarifiers on the market, with steel guards, heavier wheels, premium bearings, and a 10-gauge steel engine base, the PR550 absorbs much of the vibration within the main body of the machine, making it more stable and more comfortable for the user to operate.

The PR550 will remove thatch swiftly and efficiently, making light work of an otherwise daunting task!

Once the thatch has been removed, Billy Goat’s range of core and reciprocating aerators are on hand to finish off the job. Aerating lawns and turf is vital to the health of the grass, helping water, nutrients and air penetrate the grass roots. The result will be a stronger, verdant lawn.

Punching tine core depths to 2.75” (even in hard soil conditions), many of Billy Goat’s aerators, including the PL2500SPH, do not require any lifting, add on weights or have any chains, making them easy to operate and less fatiguing than others on the market.pl2500sph

It is certainly much easier than trying to do the job with a garden fork, which could take weeks (if not months) – never mind the back-ache!

The Billy Goat range of power rake and aerator equipment is available nationwide through Henton and Chattell’s dealer network. For more information and to see videos demonstrating their performance visit www.billygoat.co.uk

An autumnal display

Whilst the stunning autumnal displays of leaves of a spectrum of colours forming around the country might look fantastic, for grounds staff it can be a lot less pleasant!

When looking after large areas, conquering the fallen leaves can seem an endless task! That’s where we come in! It’s not just leaves that are a problem at this time of year, with winter coming many people are in the midst of clearing up other types of debris and litter. We can help with that too!

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To save hours of work, you’ll need a vacuum. Billy Goat has solutions for all needs and property sizes.

The wheeled, lightweight Little Billy is perfect for domestic and residential applications. At 51cm/20” wide it is designed for small gardens, yet with a wide nozzle it provides superior suction. It also has an easy height adjustment and felt bag with 105litre collection capacity making it the perfect partner for domestic gardeners wanting to increase their efficiency.

Also designed for the domestic and residential market is the KV Series, however these models are also suitable for small commercial applications. With a width of 69cm/27” and a 5 blade impeller with serrated edges, the KV Series maximises suction and tackles debris with ease. They are also available with an on-board 5cm/2” chipper to add clearing branches to your list of autumn clean up jobs.

On the industrial and professional side, Billy Goat produce the MV Series that are ideal for larger properties, commercial sites, streets, councils and festivals – you name it, Billy Goat’s MV series has it covered! With a width of 74cm/29”width, MV Series models pick up can, litter, bottles and other debris with complete ease and wolfs down rubbish. Prices of these heavy duty leaf/little vacuums start from £1750 inc. VAT.

A final addition to the extensive Billy Goat vacuum range are the unique QuietVac™s – the world’s quietest vacuum. If noise is a concern for you, then look no more. The QuietVacs’ filtration system reduces dust in dry conditions without compromising on suction power. This means that wide, vast commercial and industrial
areas as well as large estates can be cleaned up with minimal effort by these heavy duty machines. At 84cm/ 33” wide, the QuietVac™s are Billy Goat’s widest vacuums. Prices start from £1799.99 inc. VAT.

Don’t just take our word for it though, click here to see the Billy Goat’s in action to help decide what’s best to help you this autumn.