National Trust employs Old Trafford turf technology to keep visitors on the grass

A groundbreaking experiment will see sports turf technology systems used at venues like Manchester United's Old Trafford ground employed at the National Trust's Hidcote garden in Gloucestershire to help keep visitors on the grass.

Tired of closing grass pathways after rainfall, the Trust sought sports turf expertise designed to cope with the likes of Rooney and co, to develop surfaces that could handle high volumes of visitor traffic.

Hidcote Property Manager Mike Beeston said:  "We want people to walk on the grass, play on the croquet lawn and get up close to the plants but our main grass paths get very muddy whenever it rains and we have to close them regularly. So we hit upon this scheme to try the footballer's turf.

"We have installed new drainage, replaced the clay soil with specially modified soil and then laid turf on one area and used seed on another to see which reacts best.

"It is exactly the same system as laid in the goal mouths at Old Trafford and on many other sports pitches. Our visitors tend to shuffle along looking at the garden so it will be interesting to see how the grass holds up under that use, rather than the way footballers would use it."

Hidcote's Head Gardener, Glyn Jones, explained that the first priority was to improve drainage.

"The original clay soil was removed and replaced with the new modified soil which has a high proportion of rounded sand grains to encourage drainage. But it also contains nylon fibres which bind with the grass roots to make it much stronger. The grass is a mixture of types, including fescues and bent grasses which are drought resistant and take hard wear. There is also a small amount of dwarf rye grass."

It is the first time the Trust has used sports turf on this scale and the rigourous experiment will see it tested by 150,000 visitors per year.

A National Trust spokesman said:  "The turf is subject to ongoing review and will be studied after heavy rain and heavy footfall.  The information from this trial will be made available to other properties and ultimately each would make their own decision if they'd like to follow suit.  But it's cutting edge technology and seems to holding up very well so far."

The work was carried out by contractor Duncan Ross.



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