It’s easy for sports pitches to deteriorate in the winter months. While there’s a desire to continue play where possible, pitches need to be looked after and not over-used to preserve playability and prevent lasting damage. Poor maintenance and over-use can have a detrimental effect on any the pitch for the rest of the year. It can take months to recover from this kind of lasting damage, and it will hamper the chances of a decent standard of sport being played on it.
Every year we witness many local community sports grounds in Essex turn from lush green grass to a muddy quagmire, usually as a result of cars parking by the side of the pitch. However, with some simple tips from Essex’s All Weather Access team, it is possible to keep your community field in top condition all year.
Steps to take
Irrigation – you may not need to water pitches during the winter, so drain the watering system (where applicable) fully to avoid frost-related damage.
Wear – goal mouths and other ‘high footfall’ areas can wear and become hollowed out. Re-turf in good time.
Wet ground – the pitch will be wetter during the winter, so be careful when accessing the surface. For heavy machinery access or for higher footfall sections such as spectator areas, specialist temporary protective surfaces such as all-weather Trakmats could be used.
Frost – it’s advisable to not even try to work on frosty ground.
Usage – try not to over-use pitches: rotate pitch use regularly where there are multiple surfaces, and don’t let training or matches take place when the pitch is unfit for use such as during heavy frosts or after excessive rainfall.
Dressing and maintenance – a degree of sanding, top dressing and spiking may be required as the surface deteriorates during the winter. Try not to overdo sanding and top dressing though.
Mowing – still likely to be required in winter, but only a light one to keep the grass at the optimum height.
Overall, careful winter maintenance is important to keep the pitch – or pitches – as playable as possible to facilitate good quality play and reduce injury risk.