Work is under way to make Newbury’s Faraday Road football pitch ready for the season.
Council workers have begun bringing the disused site back online, after a pledge by the recently elected Liberal Democrat administration to get football back on the site.
It had previously been earmarked for development as part of the London Road Industrial Estate regeneration plans put forward by the then Conservative district council.
“Converting a grass open space which until now has been maintained as meadow grass to a sports pitch suitable for Saturday and Sunday league football is no easy undertaking,” explained countryside manager Paul Hendry.
The football season starts in just under three months and council workers hope that, weather dependent, they will bring a pitch into play sometime in September.
“Typically a local authority grass football pitch will be mown to a height of between 25 and 50mm, however taking the sward [the grass surface] of the Faraday Road pitch down to that height at once would most likely kill it off and make the transformation much more difficult to achieve,” explains Mr Hendry.
“We have over the last two weeks gradually reduced the sward height to around 100mm-120mm, with the latest cut completed on Monday.
“Already the pitch is beginning to look much better in comparison to the previous cuts.
“This cut and collect operation produces significant quantities of green arisings which will be composted at our contractors’ depot and the resulting compost will be reused elsewhere in the district.”
He added that he is hoping for just a little more rain as so much of the forthcoming pitch preparation work is dependent on having sufficient moisture levels within the soil.
The next step is to cut the pitch again in a week’s time, then apply a suitable herbicide to remove some of the broadleaved weeds from the grass sward.
After that the pitch undergoes a more intensive preparation process including:
Scarification – a process which removes dead matter from the sward.
Top dressing – the application of sand and compost to help with drainage and levelling.
Fertilising – which raises the fertility of the soil allowing grasses to thrive.
Over seeding – which introduces a more suitable grass mix to the sward.
And finally verti-draining – a process that reduces soil compaction