Thursday 21st September

Regrettably, we still have a quagmire.  The compressed air treatment does not seem to have had much effect.

Thursday 9:30 am

Tuesday 20th September

John’s trenches took away a vast amount of the standing water, but the localised depressions, for example from the tractor tyres, were still filled with water.  Although there were some firm dry areas, much of the surface looked like this.

The swamp, Tuesday morning

The contractors were already at work with this piece of equipment.

Improving the drainage

The probe at the front is driven into the soil in the same way as a pneumatic drill.  The compressor can be seen nearby.  Compressed air is driven down the probe to break up the soil down to a depth of about a foot and so enable the water to drain through.  This process was being carried out at 2 m intervals.  It will take a few hours for the water to soak away, but another 8 mm of rain is forecast for tomorrow.  We will have to wait and see how long it takes before the grading can be started.

Tuesday 19th September

More rain last night.  In addition to the inch of rain that fell on Friday 15th, a further 2 inches have been deposited since then.  This was the scene at 11 am.

Flooded lawns on Tuesday at 11am

John had been busy enlarging the canal network, and the water flowing through this one had to be seen to be believed.


We left at about midday, surface water still draining steadily away, but with the lake significantly reduced.  A representative visited the club during the afternoon and rang John to say that the flooding was much reduced from Sunday and that they would return tomorrow with equipment to speed up the drying operation.  They were impressed by the effect of the drainage channels and will use this technique themselves.  I hope to be able to show you work in progress tomorrow, but in truth it will be amazing if any levelling can be undertaking until Friday, and more rain is forecast for Thursday.  Fingers crossed everyone.

Monday 18th September

The weather has been awful for our project.  With no grass and the soil compacted, it seems to have little capacity for soaking up the rain. This is what the area looked like on Sunday evening.

Flooded lawns on Sunday evening

John, remembering the skills he learned as an army cadet, has dug a trench to help the standing water run away. The contractors have visited today for an inspection and are keeping in touch regularly.

Thursday 14th September

We were told yesterday that in view of the wetness of the soil and the weather forecast, no work would be done today or tomorrow.  This is very disappointing as these autumn days are critical for the speedy germination of the grass seed and its early development.

I can however show you one of the contractor’s sprinklers (we will have the use of two of them) that will be used to provide irrigation once the seed is in.

Self propelled sprinkler

The metal cable running from the sprinkler to the bottom right hand corner of the picture is secured to the ground.  The water supply not only drives the sprinkler head but also spins a turbine connected by a gearbox to the drum on the trolley.  Thus the drum rotates very slowly, pulling in the cable and pulling the sprinkler trolley along at about 10 m per hour.  At the end of the run the water supply is automatically shut off.  Using the 3/4″ hose brought by the contractor, the spread of the sprinkler is a little over 20 m (10 m radius circle).  We are hoping that using a 1″ hose will increase the pressure at the sprinkler and give a spread approaching 30 m.  If this turns out to be the case, two of these sprinklers will be able to irrigate the whole area in one pass without intervention, thus avoiding the need for club volunteers to attend the club several times a day to reposition the equipment.  We shall see.

Here is a closer view of the sprinkler trolley.  The turbine and gearbox are on the other side of the cable drum.

Mobile sprinkler close-up.

I will report tomorrow if there is any progress, otherwise the next report will be on Monday.

Wednesday 13th September

Unfortunately the overnight rain has made the soil too wet for the grader so no work will be done today.  Bother.

Tuesday 12th September

Firstly, a look back to the last time croquet was played on our lawns.

True enthusiasts

The second pass of the Koro was completed yesterday, then the tractor was run over the whole area to seal the surface in case of further rain.  This is how it looked first thing this morning.

Turf and thatch removal completed

It was curious to see that the position of many of the old line markings were still visible

The boundary markings

The next phase is to cultivate the area with the beast pictured below.  This not only develops a fine tilth to a depth of about 15 cm but also buries most of the stones to this depth.

The cultivator

Here it is in action.  The powered blades that break up the soil are at the front and the direction of their rotation brings the material forward – the pile of soil being brought up can be seen in the next shot.  The fearsome toothed roller at the back is just that, an unpowered roller that smoothes the soil.

Cultivator / stone burier in action

During the course of the day Churngold removed more lorry loads of arisings (I understand about 9 loads have been removed so far, with more yet to dealt with) and by about 4:30 the area had been cultivated and the tractor run over several times to recompact the soil and seal the surface.

The laser guided grading will start tomorrow which should be fascinating.

By the way, if anyone wants some top quality topsoil, there are piles of it around, just come and help yourself. Be quick though, Churngold will be along to remove it.

Monday 11th September

The weather has not been kind to us (though not as unkind as hit has been to those poor souls in the Caribbean and Florida).  We had 26 mm of rain on Thursday night / Friday morning, resulting in the standing water you saw in my last post, and then the area dried up over the weekend.  Then we got another 6 mm of rain on Sunday night / Monday morning, resulting in this.

Flooding in front of the clubhouse

And this.

It turns out that on Thursday a complete pass was made with the Koro and a second one was started.  No work was done on Friday.  Forewarned of the conditions, the two stalwart contractors arrived this morning just before noon, just after the pictures above were taken.  Here they are, Graham and Rob.

Graham and Rob

They brought the grader with them.

Box grader

John Wallace ran the Sarel roller over the flooded areas repeatedly while Graham and Rob spiked with forks to try and help the water drain away

Graham and Rob improving the drainage

but to no avail. John then tried using our light roller to disperse the water to the drier parts of the area and this worked.  Planned work was resumed at 1:30, and the results will be here tomorrow.

Friday 8th September

My first opportunity to visit the club today was at about 3:30.  Given the rain overnight and in the morning I did not expect to see anyone working, and that was the case.  This is what I found.

Lawns from corner 4, lawn 1

Clearly the turf has been stripped from the whole area, and judging from the appearance of some of the ‘arisings’ from the heap in the corner, a second pass may well have been done, thus completing this phase of the work.

You will be pleased to see that the are we call Lawn 5 is included in the project, so we will have a really good practice area which will be particularly useful for coaching beginners.

Lawn 5 – also to be levelled.

When the turf stripping was finished, the contractors ‘sealed’ the surface by driving the tractor to and fro over the whole area so that rain would penetrate as little as possible.  This certainly worked as there were large areas of standing water.

I do not expect any work over the weekend, so the next post will be on Monday.

Thursday 7th September

I arrived at 9:30 to find the turf removal process in full swing.  The Koro is an awesome piece of kit.

A single pass from South to North removes more material than the tipper trailer can hold, so the trailer has to be emptied before the run is complete.  You can see that no more than a third of the area has been stripped, and this is the quantity of ‘arisings’, as they call it that has been removed so far.

The ‘arisings’ from about one third of the area.

Unfortunately we could not think of a way to make use of this material which could turn into beautiful compost, so it will be removed by Churngold very soon.  Each pass removes about 20mm of material (just under an inch in old money) and a second pass will be done to remove the rest of the thatch layer.

Keep watching!


Wednesday 6th September

Precious little happened today, but, as the saying goes, the little that happened was truly precious.  We had hoped that the contractors would arrive at 8am, but the first sign of life was at 2:45 when a van with a low loader trailer arrived carrying a tipper trailer, together with two of the team who are to do the work.  A quarter of an hour later some equipment arrived in Avening Close ….

Some equipment arriving

Getting this lot off the lorry and into the club took some time and a great deal of care as the clearances were quite tight …

The gate has been temporarily removed to give the maximum clearance.

The last piece of kit off the lorry is the Koro machine which will be used to strip off the top of the turf including the thatch layer.  I was told that they would have a trial run with this before packing up at the end of the day.

The Koro machine.

Monday 4th September

When the work is completed, the new grass will be of a carefully chosen variety, so it was important that all traces of the old grass should be killed off.  The contractor came and sprayed a herbicide on Tuesday 29th August.  The old grass although on its last legs, was good enough to play our finals, but here is what it looks like now.  R.I.P.

The next phase, stripping off the old grass, was due to start today, but the contractor had a delay on the previous job at Regent’s Park, so this will not happen until Wednesday 6th.  Keep watching for regular updates.