When I tell people that I'm the landscaper who looks after our team's football field they are really impressed, and a little jealous. I don't think they know how much work it is though - it's definitely trickier than keeping your backyard looking green. Not only does my football field need to look lush, it also needs to be perfectly even so that the ball doesn't bounce at crazy angles, and not so soft that the players boots sink in. I need to keep up with all of the latest tricks that landscapers have, and I write these up here so that everyone can give them a try on their own fields.
If you are remodelling a leisure facility, you may be considering installing new sports pitches, or you may have existing pitches that need to be renovated or replaced. It's easy enough to find guidance on the sizes that you need to provide, or the pitch markings, but what about the playing surface? A quick search online will reveal a vast choice of different types of turf that you could use. It can be difficult to know where to start.
The best turf, like that at Quality Turfing, for you will depend on your specific circumstances, but here are some guidelines to help you decide:
Natural turf comes in a range of varieties. Couch grass is often the cheapest to buy, and kikuyu is also inexpensive. In terms of value for money, kikuyu has a range of well-known problems which may outweigh its low purchase price unless you are anticipating extremely high wear to your pitch. Other varieties such as zoysia or Queensland Blue Couch (not actually a couch grass, despite the name) will be more expensive, but if their attributes are the best match for your particular circumstances, it may be money worth spending.
You will also need to consider the maintenance characteristics of the different types of grass. Buffalo, for example, is not very robust, so is unlikely to be suitable for sports use.
Couch grass, kikuyu and Queensland Blue are all fairly hard wearing, but kikuyu and couch grass grow very quickly so need frequent mowing, up to once a week in summer. Couch grass and especially kikuyu are also invasive species, so if your pitches are near flower beds, gravel paths or anywhere else you don't want grass growing, you will need a pretty intensive weeding regime. On the other hand, these grasses are also very good at repairing themselves quickly if they do get damaged.
Zoysia is somewhere in between these hard-wearing grasses and the more delicate buffalo. It is hard wearing but slower growing, meaning less frequent mowing but also that it is slower to repair itself. It is also less invasive than couch and kikuyu grasses.
The amount of rainfall, sun and shade, or salt in coastal areas can all affect how well a natural turf will establish and grow. If you're local to the area, you'll probably have a good idea about these already, but if not then it's worth talking to people who know the area or checking online for details about the local climate.
Couch, kikuyu and zoysia are all pretty resistant to drought. Couch grass requires very high levels of sun, and will not establish or survive in shady areas, while zoysia is much more shade-tolerant. All of these varieties can tolerate a degree of saltiness in the atmosphere, but if you are in a very exposed, coastal area, you may want to consider saltene grass. It's not as attractive as some of the others, but will grow in areas where nothing else will.
If you're planning on holding competitions on your sports pitches, or hosting a local club, then you will need to be aware of the specific requirements of your sports' governing body. These can cover things like the length of the sward or how it is drained and mowed. The Australian Football League, for example, recommends that a drought-resistant grass is used and requires it to be regularly aerated and fertilised.
The time of year that your sport is played will also have a bearing - high summer sports will need a much more drought tolerant lawn than those played in winter.
With a little thought and careful planning, your new or renovated sports pitch will be a real asset not only for you but for your local community.