- Re-commission the irrigation system, if present.
- Spring fertiliser will typically be applied this month, with about 10 x 25 kgs required.
- Mow regularly to encourage tillering and sward thickening.
- Line marking should not be neglected just because renovation is imminent after the final games.
- Be flexible in your planning for April because the weather can be extremely variable.
- Don’t be inclined to reduce the height of cut too quickly to 3/16 inch, in case of a cold or wet spell.
- Green renovation will be the main priority this month. Include the green approach in any renovation work.
- Consider renovating fairway ‘winter greens’ at the same time, or soon afterwards.
- Winter tee renovation should take place as soon as the players are switched onto the summer tees.
- Ensure the irrigation system is fully commissioned.
- Complete topping up the bunkers. Any major competitions will need a period of time for bunkers to settle down, so bear this in mind.
- Mow the whole course twice per week, although the show paddock might have an additional cut as this will probably be maintained to a higher standard.
- Strim around the base of all track posts.
- Re-commission the irrigation system.
- Aerate the course as part of routine maintenance.
- Apply the main spring fertiliser: the total quantity of fertiliser will depend on the total area of the racecourse that is to be fertilised, as well as the application rate used, with some areas having a lighter application than others.
- This is the time to complete the main renovation of a national hunt course, which will then be allowed to rest over the summer months – assuming it does not form part of a course for flat racing.
- Mowing frequency will be increasing, while at the same time the height of cut will be gradually lowered from the winter topping height to that required for the start of the playing season.
- Rolling will be routine and carried out regularly during this month to help firm up the court ready for play commencing in May.
- Re-commission the irrigation system ready for early dry spells.
- Apply a suitable spring fertiliser. Most analyses will contain nitrogen as 8 to 15 %, but the exact analysis will depend upon individual requirements. One 25 kgs bag per court should be ample for this main spring application, depending on how much of the surrounds are also fertilised.
- If there are any thin areas present on the court these should be oversown using an appropriate grass seed mixture.
- Towards the end of the month set out and mark the court.
Additional games will probably be required to catch up on postponed and cup matches. The aim will be to provide a suitable playing surface to accommodate these matches. Don’t worry too much about excessive destruction of the surface vegetation as the season is nearly at an end and a full renovation will be taking place shortly.
A smooth surface that is well marked out should be aimed for, so divoting will be a main feature this month to see out the season. Increasing the mowing frequency will also help to give a neat finish. Letting clippings fly and spreading them evenly may make some bare areas look a little more pleasing for the short term.
- Ensure all the end-of-season renovation materials have not only been ordered but are delivered or well on the way to being delivered.
- Vertidraining can be planned for straight after the last game. If this has to be hired then plan accordingly.
Be quite flexible in your planning for April as the weather can be extremely variable.
Complete the renovation of the greens, making sure two weeks separates the end of renovation and the first bowl being played. This should ensure adequate time for any top-dressing to be satisfactorily worked into the sward. This is an important consideration as the grass is usually not too active at present.
- Open the season on as high a cut as possible, say 1⁄4 inch. This will give the grass some insurance against cold weather returning.
- Several light rollings, with a 5 cwt roller, will help to firm the surface prior to the start of the season.
- Ensure the irrigation system is fully commissioned.
- Top-up ditch material as required.
- Continue to increase the frequency of mowing throughout the month.
- Scarification will be increased to remove all surface debris within the base of the sward.
- Rolling should be continued to provide a solid base for the playing season.
- Additional rolling will be carried out for pitch preparation; however, the fundamental groundwork for the season is carried out prior to the first ball being delivered.
- Ensure the square is properly ‘squared up’ with the correct number of wickets being spot marked at the ends. Ensure each wicket is correctly squared.
- A spring fertiliser will probably be applied this month, although be careful not to apply too much nitrogen as the aim is to ensure strong root development and not excessive leaf growth.
- Measure out stripes for mowing, making sure to measure accurately to create the chequer board presentation.
- Mow outfield as growth demands. Slowly reduce the height of cut to approximately 15 mm throughout this month.
- Monitor the outfield for weed invasion, and make plans to apply selective herbicide when growth is strong and ground and climatic conditions allow. This would usually be towards May time. Only certified operatives should apply chemicals.
- Repair/redress any minor areas of damage especially in and around bowlers run ups.