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Groundsman's diary: A frustrating March

Grounds staff
by William Brierley
Tuesday 2 April 2013

AELTC groundsman Will writes regular blogs about the development of the courts throughout the year at Wimbledon. Here's what's been going on (or not going on) in March...

It's the end of the month and first and foremost I'd like to wish you all a very happy Easter, I hope you all had a lovely long weekend with family and the Easter bunny has delivered you all chocolate eggs.

I'd love to be writing to tell you how much we've done in getting the courts ready with spring preparations but unfortunately this current weather streak shows no sign of stopping, even though it did have a few days of trying to trick us that Spring was coming. The rain has gone and been replaced with very light occasional snow flurries but unfortunately the ground temperatures are not where we would like them to be or need them to be to start over-sowing and getting good germination. This is clearly frustrating for all the guys and in complete contrast to this time last year when we had most of the spring preparations done by this time.

That being said we haven't been completely idle as the courts are still growing, albeit slower than normal, and we have been out mowing, even taking the height down on a couple of courts from 13mm to 11mm in readiness for a light top-dressing. The courts were also fed early in the month to give them a bit more strength and colour leading into the Spring. Currently the sward density is very good with very few bare patches that will need seeding, there is very little in the way of weeds and after the early year disease, apart from a few scars, it is hard to notice any had been there at all.

Over on the practice courts, time was not on our side last year for the renovations after The Championships and Olympics and with the weather so spring preparations are essential and underway, although conditions are not ideal. They have been scarified and oversown with pre-germinated seed and then covered over with the semi-permiable growth covers to aid the soil temperatures and get the new seed establish. This should give us what we need coming into the season and looking ahead to both the opening of the croquet lawns (13th April) and the opening of the grass courts which is scheduled for 11th May. With a good April there will be no worries getting both The Championships and Aorangi courts ready for this date. As of today we will only be 12 weeks out from the tournament and that seems unreal as it only seems like last week we were finishing off the Olympics. Time at this place flies by quicker than a time-travelling DeLorean.

I promise next month will have more work carried out on the courts and we should even have some white lines painted and back looking like tennis courts.

As a side note I just want to remind you I'm running the Great North Run this September in aid of Perennial - The Gardeners' Royal Benevolent Society  - and next weekend I'll be taking place in my first warm-up half marathon in Croydon, any and all donations (www.justgiving.com/wimbogroundsman) for the Great North Run will be greatly appreciated.

Last but by no means least we would all like to wish our head groundsman Neil Stubley and his lovely wife Claire a massive congratulations on the birth of their second child.

Again have a lovely Easter and we'll see you soon.

To see what Will and the rest of the groundstaff are up to on a daily basis, follow @WimboGroundsman for updates and pictures.


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