Winter sports can cause a lot of havoc to grass pitches, having to cope with regular weekly games from multiple sports teams. When the colder months bring lots of rain and frost, it can be a challenge to keep the pitch playable and ready for each weekend’s game.
Here’s our guide for keeping your rugby pitch in good condition for the start of the season.
In September, keep on top of the mowing as there will still be a good amount of growth and try to maintain a grass height of 50mm to 75mm. It’s worth using a chain harrow to keep the grass standing up and replace the divots from games.
When October rolls around you’ll still need to keep mowing, but make sure the blades of your mower are set correctly and it’s not too wet. You can chain harrow in the morning when there is dew on the grass as it knocks off any water and leaves you with a great pattern. Towards the end of the month, look to apply your autumn and winter feed, something low in nitrogen, high in phosphate and potash.
November will likely give a lot more rain and this is a good time to give the pitches a spiking with a slitter or aerator. Do this on a dry day and leave the pattern in for the weekend’s games. You will likely do the last mow in November, unless it is fairly mild, as frost tends to inhibit growth.
The winter can be tricky for groundsmen due to constant frost so try to keep machinery off the pitch as much as possible. Chain harrow the pitches in two directions early in the week so you don’t need to go back onto the pitch before the weekend’s games. If you do have a cold frost, try to roll the pitch with a mower roller as a flat pitch will be able to save more matches. You can use sand and chain harrowing to prepare the pitch for any frost and topdress any areas that may have been agitated after scrums, rucks or mauls.
In January, stay off the pitch as much as possible and keep players off during very wet or very cold conditions. Only use the mower roller and chain harrow when you have to and hand fork any standing water away before it can freeze.
February will continue to be wet and cold so keep matches going by chain harrowing and mower rolling. It’s a good idea to spike with the slitter or aerator again as the pitch will probably have become compacted because of weeks of rolling.
Sportsmark is a sports ground equipment provider and can supply equipment to keep your sports grounds in good condition. We have a range of rugby pitch equipment including rakes, barrier rope, spiking rollers and feed spreaders as well as much more! Visit our website to see the range of equipment we supply.