No More Pitch Patterns in the Premier League

The Premier League has recently announced that groundscare teams can no longer work creative patterns and club logos into their pitch.

A statement issued on the official Premier League website reads, “Pitch patterns and designs will no longer be allowed in the Premier League in 2017/18.

“Rules state that the playing surface must contain no markings other than the traditional horizontal and white lines.

“This amendment brings the Premier League Rules into line with UEFA’s regulations for its competitions and follows consultation with the Premier League Club groundsmen.”

Our blog back in June covered this topic, praising the likes of Leicester City FC for their original and unique designs, such as poppies mown into the grass to commemorate Remembrance Day, and the beautifully intricate outline of the club’s badge towards the end of the 2016/17 season.

409BF65600000578-4527098-image-m-8_1495370179239

Other top flights clubs such as Southampton FC also sported impressive circular patterns on their pitch instead of traditional stripes.

Not only was it wonderfully creative and fun, it was no doubt inspiring youngsters to consider a career in groundsmanship. It also helped the Premier League gain worldwide recognition, and demonstrated that it IS possible to get your lawn looking more like a snooker table!

Advertisements

Summer lawn care for domestic gardeners and professionals

If your lawn tends to turn brown and look like it’s suffering over summer; don’t panic, this is a fairly common problem. If it’s compacted or patchy; don’t worry, you can take steps to improve it and fix it for next year.

Grass is one of the strongest and most versatile plants on the planet, able to grow in almost all climates, from the snow-covered mountains to the scorching African plains. So, generally, grass is very capable of healing itself and with time it will recover of its own accord. We’ve collated some tips that will help to speed this process up.

  1. Mowing

At this time of year, the grass will grow quickly and will require, at the very least, fortnightly or even weekly mowing. You can use a cylinder mower to do this, which is best for small to medium domestic gardens and small areas of communal or public green spaces.

This type of mower will cut the grass very finely, giving you a precise finish. It also leaves the glass clippings behind, which will help the lawn to retain vital moisture and nutrients.

If you’re looking after a bigger patch you may want to consider a large ride-on mower.

  1. Aeration

You can aerate lawns twice a year, and it is best to do it in spring and summer, or at least when the soil is not too wet or water-logged. Aerating now will help to make the grass healthier, thicker and greener for next year. For large areas of grass, choosing a motorized aerator takes most of the effort and hard work out of the job and takes significantly less time than using manual aerator tools.

If the lawn has been aerated once already in the last 12 months, or it is only lightly compacted, you only need to make one pass with the aerator. If the soil is heavily compacted or you haven’t done it for a while (or ever!), then make two passes over the area.

  1. Watering

If the weather is very hot and sunny, avoid watering your lawn during the daytime, especially during the afternoon when the sun is likely to be at its hottest.

Water in the grass will evaporate quickly in these conditions, scorching the lawn as it dries and causing it to turn brown. Instead, water as late as possible when the sun is cooler and beginning to set. Sometimes daytime watering cannot be avoided, and the grass will still benefit more than it would without any moisture at all.

Weekly watering should be enough for most lawns, especially if it rains in between, too.

  1. Repair patches

The best time to repair patchy lawns is in spring, although it is still possible at this time of year, but any new grass shoots that sprout now may still be vulnerable to autumn frosts.

First, cast seeds over the turf by evenly sprinkling them. Then spread about half an inch of compost or topsoil onto the lawn. This will help the seeds to ‘bed in’ and will prevent birds from reaching them. Next, water the seeds very lightly with a fine rose or mist setting on a hose or sprinkler. Take care not to simply wash the seeds away with too much force.

Do this early in the morning and evening until the seeds germinate. Once sprouted, water on alternate days, or every day in dry conditions. Avoid mowing the area at this stage until the sprouts have spread, become thicker and more established.

This year’s flower shows teach us how landscaping can make a garden practical AND pretty

The gardening and horticulture world is in full swing at this time of year. We were watching the events at RHS Chelsea, the inaugural RHS Chatsworth and BBC Gardener’s World with eager excitement and we liked what we saw. As RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is this week (4th – 9th July), we are thrilled to recap some of the key themes of this years’ best-loved gardening shows.

One of the main themes addressed this year has been how we can continue to love and enjoy our green, outdoor space whilst living busy, fast-moving lives in the heart of an ever-growing city landscape.

Possibly our favourite garden of RHS Chelsea Flower Show, was RHS Greening Grey Britain, an un-judged show feature designed by Professor Nigel Dunnett. It showed us exactly how ‘urban gardening’ can not only exist, but thrive in a built-up, otherwise monotone cityscape.

The RHS’s Greening Grey Britain campaign was launched following research commissioned by the RHS, which suggested that three times as many people are choosing to pave over their front gardens compared with ten years ago.

As a response to this worrying trend, the RHS launched Greening Grey Britain, a campaign which urges people to transform a grey part of their property by planting shrubs, bedding plants or even just a window box, container or hanging basket, to bring a little colour back to an otherwise grey space. Even bringing a handful of plants into a paved front yard will provide food and shelter for all sorts of garden wildlife.

The RHS Greening Grey Britain garden at Chelsea featured creative elements which demonstrated how to make the most of small garden space and balconies, with solutions for storing bikes and recycling bins, as well as choosing plants which soak up pollution.  We particularly liked this attention to detail, and the imagination to fill the space with so many environmentally-conscious aspects, including a special wetland area designed to combat flash flooding.

It is fascinating to see the way the designer had carefully managed to strike the balance between the need for practicality in the garden and the equal need to create an aesthetically-pleasing green space. Finding a harmonious equilibrium between these two aspects is something gardeners across the country can learn and take inspiration from!

Other notable gardens at Chelsea included the Mind Trap Garden sponsored by idverde and designed by Ian Price, that featured four metal walls which created a deliberate barrier between the garden’s inner and outer sections. It also allowed for different planting, the inner garden contained plants that preferred shady conditions, whilst the outer garden featured flowers and plants that thrive in full sunshine.

To celebrate gardens which uplift the senses and encourage people to lose themselves in gardening, Radio 2 showcased five gardens at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

Our favourite was the Jeremy Vine Texture Garden, designed by Matt Keightley, that used an interesting mix of landscaping and clever planting choices to create as many different features, textures and surfaces as possible. It included a small water pond, with a smooth pathway over the top.

rhs sarah cuttle

Image: RHS/Sarah Cuttle

The garden used different heights as well, with steps leading down to small area with rounded stones on which to sit. The main feature, in our opinion, was the angular wall towards the back, which stood in contrast next to neatly clipped, feathery hedges and velvety mosses. For a relatively small plot, it was great to see how much had been included and still managed to maintain a tranquil environment.

The flower shows reinforce every year the fact that gardens, both private and public, can be so much more than a rectangular lawn with borders around the edge. Creative landscaping knows no limit, and we can adapt and create more and more innovative solutions to make sure green spaces, large and small, always have a place in modern Britain.

Who said groundsman-ship is dull?

Leicester City FC may not have managed to replicate their miraculous league-winning performance of last season this time around, finishing 12th in the Premier League in May, but they have continued to make headlines for other reasons.

The club’s team of groundsmen, led by grounds-manager John Ledwidge, has been responsible for creating some amazing pitch patterns that have grabbed everyone’s attention. We have written about it before in our previous blog and liked it so much, we decided to revisit it.

It got us thinking, who ever thought groundsman-ship had to be dull?

lcfc

One of The Foxes more understated designs – this simple stripe pattern still looks impressive

We think this display of lush green resembles a snooker table, like any well-maintained pitch should. But it also demonstrates enormous skill, creativity and represents the year-round hard work that goes into maintaining the playing surface.

lcfcc

The groundsmen showed off this stunning club logo for Leicester City’s final matches of the season

409BF65600000578-4527098-image-m-8_1495370179239

They saved the best till last! This was the final design of the season for Leicester City’s last game again Bournemouth FC

The grounds team’s work at Leicester City is not only impressive, but it is also showing the sporting world that pitch maintenance need not be thought of as boring or not creative. It is casting the profession in a positive light and we hope their work is inspiring a young generation to explore groundsman-ship as a possible career path in the future.

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.

Patchy lawns2428875105_436bc73d1a_b

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.

man-person-legs-grass

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!