COVID-19 and grass: pitch maintenance while we wait to restart play

Stadio Vuoto

Dear friends,

Here we are in one of the strangest situations in recent years. Everything is shut down, everything is quiet. But what should you do on your stadiums and training centers while waiting for competitions to resume ?

In this article I will try to provide some advice, without claiming infallibility, in the assumption that competitiions will not restart before July or August 2020.


In my view, there is no reason maintain mowing heights at the usual 23-25 mm. This unnecessarily stresses the lawn and forces you to come and cut more often, thus contravening the current self-isolation and minimum social gathering advice. In fact, raising the cutting height to 30-32 mm should allow you to maintain a good density, quickly recovered if play should suddenly resume, but would allow the plant to (1) root deeper, which is excellent before summer and (2) photosynthesize more (more leaf = more photosynthesis) which can allow a greater accumulation in the roots of those sugars so useful for the plant in summer, and could even allow you to (3) slightly decrease the use of artificial light with the ramps.

I believe that an excellent option would be that of the additional growth control with regulators (e.g. Primo Maxx, etc.) at a dose of 2-3 L / ha every 4 weeks. This for even less cuts and much "harder" plants when entering the summer.


Personally I would advise against nitrogen fertilization at this time. At best, use a good balanced and highly coated (at least 50% coated) granular feed. In this "low-cost maintenance" phase, it would not make sense to push the lawn. Furthermore, pushing the lawn towards "hardening" and "rusticity" before the Summer can only bring you advantages in a couple of months, when the T° will start to rise.

P and K feed is a different story, and this should be privileged in this period. A hundred units of K and fifty units of P can be a good feed before entry into the Summer.

The same applies to biostimulants - these have an efficacy that is expressed over longer time and repeated applications, and do not give particular growth peaks - so they are welcome!


Here things can get tricky... Everything changes if you think that the competitions will resume in a month or if (like myself) you believe that for this season professional football has ended.

3.1. If you think we will resume in one month or so

Verticut (also weekly with Unirake) and overseed. Also add a vertidrain and a slight topdressing after the dethatch, which the calendar allows. So dethatch-vertidrain-topdress-overseed. basically a mini-renovation.

Another matter if your pitch is bermudagrass-based. In this case I would avoid overseeding and if anything I would intensify the Unirake. Begin to supply light and air to the bermudagrass.

3.2. If you think it won't restart for this season

Here the discussion becomes interesting, especially for the fields based on bermuda grass and/or hybrid pitches.

This is because, if you are confident that the competitions are over, then you can do something that can never be done in "normal" situations. That is scalp the ryegrass / poa and cross-verticut, followed by a vertidrain and a topdressing. The aim is obviously to encourage the recovery of the bermuda grass from now on (and in some regions the T ° already allow it). Remember, in this delicate phase, all the oxygen and light that can be supplied to the warm-season species is petrol on the fire of conversion. If then you even have "time" and want to cover the field with a geotextile, then you will have really done the maximum.

In a way the hybrid follow suit. You can almost never do a full renovation in Spring, and often you have to do this in full summer. For once you could have the luxury of carrying out that Koro renovation and overseed in the mild and perfect T° of Spring. Imagine what that would mean for the grow-in of that ryegrass you would be reseeding ! !

Anyway, whatever you decide to do, stay safe and keep enjoying our wonderful job ! !

Take good care,

Filippo LULLI