22nd April 2018

What a gap since my last post!  The winter saw about 30% of the area under water, from November to mid February.  With most of the surface clear of standing water, we removed all the leaf debris, raked the bare areas and seeded them.  Sadly the rain came back and the pools reappeared, though some germination did occur.  The two falls of snow were not welcome, either for the water or the cold temperatures, and John has been keeping a close eye on the conditions and all the weather forecasts to try and find a suitable window for the contractors to return.  It happened on Wednesday 18th.   20 tonnes of sand were used to fill the depressions that had formed and filled with water so often, then the levels were checked by laser.

Pre-seed fertiliser was applied and the whole area was seeded.  Finally this odd machine was driven all over the surface – its knobbly tyres created indentations in the surface and pushed the seed into the soil/sand.    The contractors left on Friday afternoon.

And now – oh the irony of it! – although the soil is wet underneath, the top is dry, especially the sandy areas, so John has recruited a band of helpers to irrigate the whole area until germination has happened and the roots get down to the water.  We should be on a path to flat grassy covered lawns in the foreseeable future.

Wednesday 15th November

As promised, here is evidence of the grass appearing.  This picture was taken on the North boundary, where most of the germination has started.  At the very start of germination the shoots are red, and you can see this in several places if you look very carefully.

It’s pure green, my lord!

Some signs of germination are quite remarkable, e.g.


Who cares about a bit of moisture?
Is it grass or has some rice seed found its way into the mix?

Monday 13th October


I am delighted to be able to pass on news from John Wallace that there are signs of the seed germinating, particularly on the north boundary.  There are even some green shots appearing in one or two flooded areas.  I will post some photographic evidence soon.

Monday 30th October


When I arrived at about 10am the pre-seeding fertiliser had been spread and Graham was loading the Cultipac with seed.  He then ran the machine over the whole area 3 times in different directions and the lawns are, to our great relief, seeded.

Monday 30th October – seeding

The local pigeons soon took an interest in the food we had provided, so our bird scarer, in the form of a hawk shaped kite, will be deployed shortly.

News from here on will be intermittent as we are mostly waiting for the grass to germinate, which will take a few days.

Monday 30 October

The seed is in! The pigeons didn’t take long to notice but the bird kite will go up tomorrow

Sunday 29th October

The weather has behaved for once and the whole area has been raked over ready for tomorrow’s long awaited seeding.

Ready for seeding

Geoff paid a visit.  As all of our equipment is in good order, he decided to do some maintenance on Talbot’s Cultipac (the seeding machine).

Geoff at work

Roll on tomorrow!

Saturday 28th October

Graham and Steve from Talbot Farm are back on site and the conditions are dry enough to undo the damage to the surface done by the downpour just over a week ago.  They are going all over the area with hand rakes, using some additional sand to get the surface as level and smooth as possible.

Hand raking on Saturday 28th

The raking is opening up the surface so that the air can get in and speed the drying process. The weather is set fair for Sunday and Monday, so the area will be left to dry on Sunday and the fertiliser will be spread and the seed sown on Monday

Friday 27th October

Two dry days have brought about an improvement.


Friday 27th – puddles nearly gone.

Very little surface water now, but the surface is still too soggy to get the seeding machine onto the lawn areas.  A couple more days of dry weather may get us there.

Incidentally, Kathy and John spent some time soaking up water from puddles with squeegees!

Wednesday 25th October

More wet weather I’m afraid.

Wednesday 25th – puddles

The weather forecast is hopeful, as it has been several times since we started.  Please let them be right this time.

Sunday 22nd October

Sadly the Met Office did not get it right.  The shower on Thursday was followed in the afternoon by very heavy rain that left standing water over much of the surface.  The hope had been that the area would have dried enough over the weekend to enable seeding to be done on Monday.  A visit this afternoon (2pm) found this.

Sunday 22nd October, 2pm

Clearly there will be no seeding tomorrow.

Keep watching this blog.

Thursday 19th October

The seed bed is fully prepared –

Ready to seed

Sadly the conditions are a little too moist for this operation, so we have to hope that the Met Office has got it right and we will be able to go ahead tomorrow.  In the meantime the contractors are repairing the damage to the track leading to the club caused by the sand delivery.

Wednesday 18th October

My apologies for the lack of updates for over a week.  This is largely because the progress has been so slow and uncertainty about what the next step will be.  The problem has been excessive moisture in the soil, particularly at the southern end, which ahs made the use of machinery almost impossible.  Either the soil has been too ‘claggy’ to work or the ground has been so soft that wheeled equipment ( which includes anything towed by a tractor) has created ruts.  Consequently a great deal has been done by hand.

By Wednesday 11th the area was essentially level, minor adjustments being made using the stone rake (where the ground was firm enough) and hand raking, thus:

Our main man, Graham had been laid low with novovirus, so no work had been done on Monday or Tuesday and his replacement had not been able to start until after midday because of wetness, work being interrupted in the afternoon for more showers.

By Friday13th, with Graham back, this had been achieved.

The fruit of Friday’s labours

Not bad, but the southern end is not so pretty.

Work continued over the weekend, and now we were into fine tuning.

Checking levels with a laser theodolite

Monday saw a lot of activity.  We had 5 contractors on site to spread the 60 tons of sand.  Motorised track mounted ‘wheelbarrows’ were used to move the sand from the sand pile to the lawn area, the barrow being loaded by and excavator.  The distribution of the sand was managed by Graham using the laser theodolite.

Spreading the sand

Delivering the sand to the lawn

A number of club members responded to a late call to arms to come and pick stones from the surface – many thanks to all of you.

Stone picking on Monday 16th

We had a visit from Talbot’s senior consultant who discussed the way forward with Graham and John.  It was decided to bring in another 10 tons of sand to be used on the southern end to compensate for a slight drop in the level and the roughness of the surface, neither of which could be addressed with machinery because of the softness of the ground.

Following the application of the sand the ‘cultipac’, the machine which puts the grass seed into the ground, was to run over the whole area to compact and level the sand.  Seeding should then be possible.

This is the Cultipac.  The roller flattens the surface and creates grooves into which the seed drops.  The seed is dispensed from the red hopper.  A feature at the back pushes the ridges of soil or sand back over the seed.


This is what could be seen today (Wednesday 18th).  The Cultipac has been run over the whole area, Graham and Rob are carrying out the final fine tuning before applying the seed tomorrow if everything goes to plan.

Here you can see the after effects of the Cultipac.

Tracks from the Cultipac

More tomorrow.


Friday 6th October

Progress has been frustratingly slow. On Wednesday John Wallace intervened as the intention of the contractor’s workman to spread the sand and then integrate it into the top layer of the soil was not following the process defined in the contract.  The man on the spot was dubious about the original plan to spread the sand in a 1cm layer to provide as smooth a surface as possible.  He was also concerned that the soil at the southern third of the area is still too wet to be worked properly.  There followed a long telephone conference at the end of which it was decided to put the cultivator over the area once more with the hope of using the stone rake on Thursday.  What is to happen next and when it is to happen will have to be judged day by day depending on the conditions and the weather forecast.

On Wednesday the cultivator was used, operating to a depth of about 10 cm (3″).  Special attention has been given to the corners. The picture below shows the result so far and approximately £2,500 worth of sand waiting to be put to the best use over by the ‘pig pen’.

After cultivation on Wednesday 4th October

Our enemy is the excessive moisture still in the soil following a very wet September.  This is particularly troublesome on the southern end as it is in heavy shadow most of the day, as you can see here.

Shadows extending from the south boundary

I visited today and found that for much of the area, the soil is in good condition for work to proceed, but the southern third, though much improved, is still quite damp and spongy.  If the weather holds over the weekend (as expected) we are hoping that the conditions will be good enough to press on, prepare a flat, smooth surface, apply the sand and get the seed in.  Fingers crossed.

Tuesday 3rd October

The soil is still damper than ideal, especially on the south boundary which is in shade most of the day.  Nevertheless, work has started again as we are expecting a week of dry weather, after which, who knows?

The laser controlled grader has been over the whole area.

Tuesday, laser levelling

The laser beam is sent from a position on the north boundary and is detected by the sensor mounted on the grader’s mast.  This controls a hydraulic ram which adjusts the height of  the grader box.

This is the result

After lser guided levelling

The surface is essentially level (we checked a few random spots and found a maximum variation of +- 1cm) but not exactly smooth.  Enter the gate grader, stage left.  Soil gathered by the first bar overflows into the next section and so on.  Here it is in action.

Gate grader

This is the finish it produces.

After gate grading

This is still not good enough to play croquet on, but each process from here on will bring an improvement.

A walk over the area demonstrates that it is quite soft and spongy in many places, and this is down to the excessive moisture present after September’s high rainfall.  It is therefore possible that there will be some settlement which will have to be remedied with top dressing next autumn, but this will be dealing, we believe, in addressing small irregularities in a fundamentally level surface.  Tomorrow’s work is planned to start with the spreading of some 60 tons of sand (a layer about 1cm thick) which will be mixed into the top 75 cm (3″) of the soil, followed by another pass with the grader.

Monday 2nd October

No work planned for today – we are waiting for the soil to dry enough for work to proceed, hopefully tomorrow.

Thursday 28th September

The breaking up of the surface using a digger/excavator was completed yesterday.

There had been a little rain overnight, so the whole area is damp, but the opportunity for drying the soil is there if the weather permits.  Unfortunately the weather forecast for the next few days is quite depressing.

Watch out for news as it happens.

Tuesday 26th September

Some progress at last!  The contractors have brought in an excavator and are using it to break up the surface, starting on lawn 3.

Tuesday, 2pm

The soil now has a chance to drain and dry.  Graham is now into lawn 4.  He expects to finish all 4 lawns tomorrow.  The next step is to cultivate the whole area once more and then start grading.  If the weather holds we should see significant progress this week.

Monday 25th September

I’m afraid that there has been no change to report since my last entry in this blog.  There has been some very welcome drying of the ground and then more rain.  The contractors arrived this morning to see what could be done.  An attempt was made to cultivate lawn 2, but the tractor’s tyres could not get enough traction on the mud to make any progress.  This is the current state of play.

Monday 25th, 10:45

There is no prospect of any more work being done until Wednesday when I will pay another visit and report back.

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.