Q What is the purpose of turf reinforcement?
A While practices such as avoiding close mowing, resting the ground, improving drainage, relieving compaction and oversowing with hard-wearing cultivars can help restore the sward in facilities subjected to heavy wear and the ravages of today’s extreme weather, they are not necessarily appropriate or affordable for all situations. Turf reinforcement aims to redistribute the load on the turf, take the strain and bind the sward together. In some cases, it will enable the use of the facility to be extended — perhaps for another couple of matches a week or another pop concert. Study how the area is used and who is using it, the type of traffic and whether there is a peak season of use. Such an assessment will give valuable information for future decisions.
Q Will the facility have to close while the turf is being reinforced?
A This depends on the system chosen. There may be some upheaval during installation. With pitches and sports facilities, the reinforcement process may require re-laying the surface, but the result should be a long-term improvement. Reinforcing areas such as overflow car parks may also involve temporary closure while the installation is completed.
Q What issues should I consider before deciding whether to go down this route?
A You should ensure that there are no other underlying problems causing the erosion of the turf. This means conducting an investigation of the site. A blocked drainage system could be to blame. Or perhaps the grass is stressed due to pests and disease. It may even be that the location is unsuitable, which may mean it would be better to move the facility elsewhere rather than spend money on remedial works.
Q How do I decide which type of turf reinforcement product to consider?
A The choice of which reinforcement product and approach to use will depend on how and what the facility is used for. For instance, if a sward is to be strengthened to cope with vehicle access or parking, it is the load-bearing capacity and frequency of use that become the important considerations. The choice of materials includes geotextiles, netting, high-density polyethylene grids and concrete honeycombs.
Q What about health and safety?
A Special attention should be paid to areas where pedestrians have access. Pathways and tracks — particularly the level, easy-walking ones that will be used by the very young, elderly and less able — need to be finished to a high standard to ensure there are no trip points and that none will develop in the future. Stepping-stone paving may be the answer for crossing lawns, but various meshes and geo-textiles are also available to incorporate into the surface. Some meshes can be laid on to the surface so that the grass grows through. There are also systems available that provide temporary walkways.
For sports facilities, it is again essential that no trip points develop. This usually means incorporating the reinforcement into the surface. Several turf growers supply systems based on fibres.