Caring for sports fields over summer

Looking after your grass coverage over summer can be a difficult task especially in the tough Australian climate.

The first thing to know is the growing features and benefits of using certain grass species. Summer sport in Australia is dominated by cricket. Most cricket players like hitting “fours” and to make this easier they want fast ball roll and therefore short grass.

Couch grass can be mown very low and thrives under these conditions. Couch will also stay green in the heat, as long as you can get water on the ground. The best time to water is early in the morning so it has time to soak into the soil before it has a chance to evaporate from the heat of the day.

Fertilise now and this will encourage couch to spread and grow more rapidly prior to the heat of summer. The pitfalls of using couch are that is has next to no shade tolerance and it goes brown and stops growing in winter when the soil temperature decreases.

This is why you need ryegrass! Ryegrass will grow in the winter and stay green where couch will not. If your local sports field is used in winter for football, couch is not the best species to use at that time. Don’t be afraid to over-sow your field with ryegrass in autumn in preparation for the lower soil temperatures.

The pitfalls of ryegrass are that you’ll need to increase the mowing height which means the ball will not be as fast however it’s a softer much more forgiving species on the players, so reseed after the cricket season is over.

Most ryegrasses are generally a darker green than couch so your sports field will look amazing from the stands!

There you have it, just remember to keep up a strict watering schedule and the players will be very happy!

These principles also apply to home garden lawns, cricket or no cricket.