Two pitches created at Tattenhall - report by Brian Jarrard

 

Introduction

 

Tattenhall cricket square is built on sandstone, which means it drains very quickly but can cause its own problems. Core samples show no clay layer and analysis shows a low clay and high sand content. Probable causes are too little top dressing at the end of the seasons and rain-washing the clay through the sand sub strata. This results in slow pitches with low bounce, which has been a problem at Tattenhall for several years.

 

Remedial actions

Changing the top dressing from Mendip loam to Boughton county loam inincrements over three years.

End of season refurbishment in house using more bags of loam per strip.

Investing in a Blec seeder to ensure greater grass cover.

Less rolling in pitch preparation to produce more bounce.

 

Background

 

A new football pitch meant a chance to increase the square size by adding extra strips at the top of the square. An idea put forward was to dig out 4inches of soil and fill with Boughton loam. At a committee meeting in February 2008 it was agreed to spend 2600 on this project.

 

Advice by representatives from Boughton informed us that 10 tonnes of loam was required per strip. A deal was made and 20 tonnes duly ordered. A member of the club loaned a mini digger and tipping trailer at a cheaper rate and a turf cutter was hired.

 

Equipment

 

Turf Cutter (hired) 20tonne Boughton County Loam (bought)

Scarifier (hired) 1 bag grass seed (bought)

Tipping Trailer (hired) Blec Seeder (owned)

Mini Digger (hired) Rakes (owned)

Scaffolding Planks (owned) Shovels (owned)

22ft metal I beam (bought)

 

Procedure

 

On a predicted dry week at the end of March an area of 24 yards by 8 yards was marked out at the top edge of the square. Using a hired turf cutter to a depth of 2inches the first layer was dug out. This contained good quality turf some of which was sold to subsidise the project.

 

A second cut of two inches followed and was removed. It was decided that the hole was not quite deep enough so a third cut was carried out. The soil was used to fill various low spots around the sports field. At the end of day one we had a hole ready for filling.

 

To create a bond between the layers the base of the hole was scarified. With several volunteers including treasurer of CAG Dave Twiney we set about filling the hole with Boughton loam. Roughly 2 inches were added at first before treading and rolling with a hand roller to help compact the layer.

 

Scaffolding planks were placed around the edge of the hole to give about 1 inch extra height to allow for loam settling.

 

The hole was filled with the rest of the loam to about 1 inch proud of the surface and leveled by sawing a 22ft metal beam resting on the wooden planks.

 

The strips were fertilized with pre-seeder and seeded three ways using a Blec seeder and drag matted to ensure the seed is covered. This was then left to germinate. The whole area was fenced off to protect from rabbits.

 

Grass appeared after about 7 days and a good cover was visible by the middle of April. The strips were rolled and bare patches were reseeded and top-dressed.

 

Problems

 

The strips must be kept irrigated to prevent cracking in dry weather until the grass cover is established.

 

Drag matting after the seeding drew a lot of seed to edges and created bare patches.

 

The loam layer should be proud of the ground level to allow for settling.

 

Conclusion

 

The principle is sound but should probably be performed at the end of the season. Many games had to be played at the bottom of the square until grass was established and any foot damaged repaired as and when.

 

The strips were treated as the rest of the square once established and end of season refurbishment also similarly. The strips will not be used until 2009 season.

 

The pitches performance will be monitored and results will be forwarded to a future CAG meeting. If successful then the three remaining strips added to the square will be similarly treated with lessons learnt from this initial attempt.