Northern Cricket Union
NCU Facebook Page
Cricket Squares - Autumn Renovation Guidelines
September and October will be a busy month for Cricket Groundsmen with thoughts of getting organised to carry out renovation work on the square. The success of any renovation work is generally down to good preparation and timing and getting it done as soon as the season ends. If you do decide to use external contractors to carry out your renovations, ensure they have the relevant experience and machinery to do the job.
The weather will be the most important element when carrying out end of season renovations. You do not want to be topdressing when inclement weather is about because once the soil gets wet, it becomes very difficult to spread.
Timing of operations
Preparing surfaces for renovation
When you finish scarifying and have lifted the debris, cut the square several times in different directions to remove any remaining debris. Lastly, you should then brush the entire square to ensure you are left with a totally clean surface. The channels you will leave from scarifying will provide a seed bed.
Once scarification is completed you should apply the grass seed. Most groundsmen will do this by hand. Ensure that you get as even a spread as possible. There are many varieties of seed available and I would recommend that you ask your supplier what you should use on your square. Next you apply the soil. There are many soil suppliers who can offer advice on what to use. I would recommend you use a loam with a 27% - 32% clay content. Do not use a cricket wicket dressing that has a lower clay content.
Spreading of the materials can be achieved by several methods such as a drop action top spreader, by hand using a shovel and a barrow or by emptying bags of soil on each wicket. It is essential that the spreading of the loam is carried out when dry conditions prevail. The amount of loam required for each square will be dictated by the severity of the renovations and how big the square is (number of pitches on the square). Loam materials are generally supplied in 25kg bags, most club groundsmen usually spread between 5-6 bags of loam per pitch.
Do one pitch at a time and once the loam is spread on the pitch use a lute or drag brush/mat to restore the level. When all pitches are completed use the drag mat /brush to level the entire square. After top dressing and seeding, if it does not rain for 3 - 4 days, you may be required to water the square. The seed will germinate over a period of 10 - 14 days and once the sward is well established, roughly between 3 to 4 weeks after germination, you should cut your square to the height of 1 inch.
3 – 4 weeks after seeding
6 – 7 weeks after seeding
You may need to cut your square again in November depending on the growth. You should also fertilise the square at this stage to help it through the autumn/winter period. Apply a low Nitrogen (N) fertiliser product, something with a mix of 5:5:15.NPK. You should fertilise again in January/February to ensure that the grass remains healthy. Do not fertilise when frost is prevalent as this will damage the grass.
Between November and early March, AERATION IS ESSENTIAL to relieve compaction and encourage root development. Use a solid tine spiker every 4 – 6 weeks and try to spike to a depth of 4 inches.
Depending on the growth of your sward during the winter, you may need to cut your square again, keeping it at a height of 1 inch.
Towards the mid/end of March, apply a fertiliser with a higher level of Nitrogen (9% - 12%). You may need to use a fertilise that that has Iron in it as this will kill any moss that may have appeared during the winter months. The higher level of Nitrogen will increase the sward of grass which is essential to make good wickets.
© Northern Cricket Union