Bowls - Cricket - Golf - Football & Rugby
Bowling Green Maintenance
The season will be a few weeks old by now, although there are still cold spells, especially at night, throughout most of the country.
Be careful not to set the mower too low as the grass is only realistically 'getting going' at present.
Cold snaps or May dry spells (i.e. mini-droughts) can still easily occur, retarding growth. It is sensible, therefore, to keep the height of cut setting to 6mm or higher, for as long as possible. This height will also help maintain the greens 'wearability' at this time of year, when the turf surface can also be a little on the soft side: This is a definite bonus given the way some bowlers deliver their woods making unnecessary divots.
Areas of the green which had been renovated in April, or even late March, should not be treated to any form of heavy scarification as this will only tear out young, newly establishing grasses.
Watch out for signs of fusarium patch disease, especially with wet, dewy mornings bring in prevalence. Make sure the greens are adequately brushed and/or switched early in the mornings.
Cricket Ground Maintenance
Square - Scarification of the square and during wicket preparation is an important operation for reducing undesirable thatch and this will help to improve bounce and pace, although wickets will probably still be on the slow side at present as the ground won't have been able to dry out adequately yet.
Wicket preparation will be occurring some 7 to 10 days before a game, with this time period going up to 14 days for top-class cricket.
A spring, mainly nitrogen,fertiliser should have been applied to the square, however, beware of leaching due to the wet weather as this may reduce the anticipated time for the next application.
Outfield - Early use of the outfield should provide feedback of any slight depressions which may need attention to maintain an even and safe playing surface.
Aeration of the outfield can also be considered, before the soil dries out too much.
Scarification, to reduce and control undesirable thatch build-up, is also ideally undertaken now.
A light fertiliser (low in nitrogen) application for the outfield can also be given, if needed, especially after any aeration and scarification work.
The end of May is also usually a good time to apply a selective herbicide to the outfield.
Mow regularly now to usually once per week and aim for height of cut of 10-15cm.
Golf Course Maintenance
The spring fertiliser should have kicked in by now and the greens should be producing fairly good grass coverage.
Mowing will typically be carried out 5 times per week, with the mowing height being around the 5mm mark.
Any areas on the green that haven't been successfully renovated should be targeted now for completion.
Be careful not to verticut the greens too frequently as growth is still variable, with there still being the chance of either a cold or dry spell, as well as grass seedling establishment from any renovation work on the greens still being 'delicate'.
The irrigation system should be fully commissioned and ready for use by now.
If the greens weren't renovated until mid-late April due to the wet weather conditions, it should now be the turn of the tees, unless the grass tees were taken out of use over the winter period and renovated in the autumn.
Fairway divoting will be continuing, although with the demands on the greens and tees at this time of year this operation may need to take a back seat this month.
Another renovation task, if not already carried out, will be the reinstatement of worn traffic areas as the result of continuous winter use.
Towards the end of the month is usually a good time to carry out any selective herbicide applications, if needed.
Football and Rugby Pitch Maintenance
The season is coming to an end and post-season renovation is the name of the game. Hopefully all materials and machinery (e.g. Vertidrain) have been ordered well in advance.
A 'typical' top-dressing application rate of 5 kg/m² equates to 30 tonnes on a 6000m2 football pitch.
The key to a successful renovation programme is to complete the task in as short a time as possible - don't forget the next season starts from mid-August onwards.
The application of a top-dressing, typically sand, must be adequately incorporated into the existing soil profile: It is no use just applying it to the surface without a suitable form of aeration, otherwise this will only encourage rootzone layering and consequent summer dry spells can lead to poor establishment of the grass and the possible production of mini-dust bowls, especially on pitches without adequate irrigate - this could readily apply to many local authority pitches.
The importance of adequate incorporation of the top-dressing in these circumstances cannot be overstated.
It is also beneficial to scarify the surface before applying a top-dressing; this can be in the form of a chain harrow with the tines downwards or a mechanical scarifier.
The choice of grass seed will depend upon the standard of the pitch as well as existing rootzone material and this will also apply to the type of fertiliser chosen. As a guide, 6 x 25 kg bags of either material will be required to provide an application rate of 25g/m2 on a 6,000m2 pitch.