Drainage: As with any grass playing surface the importance of drainage cannot be overstressed. A sound pipe drainage system should be installed, and regularly maintained to ensure good working order. To gain maximum use of the drainage system it is important to maintain a link between the surface and the drains themselves. Effort should therefore be taken to spike to a depth of 100-250 mm using either a hand fork or self-propelled pedestrian machines, for limited wet areas. For larger areas, the use of a tractor-drawn spiker can be used when conditions allow. This will give easy access for surface water to escape to the subsoil and allow oxygen to reach the roots.

Surface restoration: The surface of the hockey pitch needs to be true or it will significantly affect the pace, accuracy and quality of the game. The pitch should be scarified using a grassland chain harrow to remove any undulations, divots should be firmly replaced, scars repaired and, depending on the soil type, it may be advantageous to top dress with sand ensuring it is worked well into the surface. It may be necessary to roll the pitch, but this needs to be done with discretion as rolling can also lead to compaction and may restrict water movement to the drains.

 Scarification: On pitches used exclusively for hockey, excessive amounts of thatch can build up. This can be kept to a minimum by scarification work, using wire rakes or rotary scarifiers. This job should be tackled in the spring, even on well-used pitches, to remove dead material and to improve aeration and assist in new growth.

Aeration: Aeration is an important operation as it encourages deep root development which, in turn, will bind the soil together, improving the surface, and increasing the traction for the players. Spiking should be carried out as a matter of routine to penetrate compacted layers.

 Fertiliser: The removal of grass clippings is preferred if problems such as weeds, worms and disease are to be avoided.
A fertiliser application at 350 kg/ha of product such as GSR Tri-Phase in spring prior to seeding is considered prudent. It may also be advisable to give further light dressings during showery weather during the growing season.
It is important to ensure, however, that the fertiliser input is balanced as over-use of nitrate will discourage finer grasses and cause ‘soft’ growth.

 Over-seeding preparation: The amount of cultivation necessary for effective over-seeding will depend on the amount of damage. In goal mouths and central areas it will probably be necessary to cultivate to a depth of 75-100 mm. This should be worked to a fine, firm seed-bed. In other areas where grass is still in good condition it may not be necessary to take on major renovation work, perhaps just harrowing or raking to achieve a seed-bed where levels need adjustment. Dressings of sand and soil should be worked in to give a true surface.

 Seeding: Established pitches are typically composed of a knitted bent and fescue turf.  To maintain uniformity, a comparable seed mixture of high quality cultivars should be used for all seeding and over-seeding works. However, difficulties do arise with the short closed season because of the reduced time for establishment. Where ryegrass already exists extensively in the sward, a seed mixture containing the new turf-bred varieties of perennial ryegrass such as Meteor could be used. This is quick to establish and is very hard wearing. The seeding rate depends on the surface conditions but should be in the region of 17-35 g/m2.

For a new pitch construction the following mixture is to be recommended:

A7 Olympic Sportsground Mixture

Product Name A7 ('Olympic Quality' Sports Ground)
Mixture Breakdown 20.0% ABERCHARM SLENDER CREEPING RED FESCUE (Festuca rubra litoralis)
30.0% CADIX PERENNIAL RYEGRASS (Lolium perenne)
35.0% PROMOTOR PERENNIAL RYEGRASS (Lolium perenne)
15.0% TETRIS SMOOTH STLK MEADOWGRASS (Poa pratensis)

View A7

Watering: Given the extremely short closed season, the importance of quick establishment cannot be over-emphasised. To aid this, irrigation may be necessary.

Mowing: Mowing should be carried out every seven days during the growing season to ensure a good dense turf. The cutting height depends on the sward, but care should be taken not to mow too close on recently renovated areas. A light rolling will be of benefit before the first cut to firm the soil and grass roots and prevent the grass plants being ripped out by the mower. Clippings are best boxed off so there is no return of organic matter to the surface as this encourages soft spongy growth and possibly disease.

Worms: It is recognised that worm activity in the soil is of benefit but is considered undesirable in fine sports turf. Therefore, the judicious application of worm-killers may have to be considered during the spring and autumn.