Now is the time to start planting trees and hedges
by TurfPro Editor, Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR
Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR

You might think that hedges are an expensive option but hedging plants can be bought very cheaply, especially when bought as bare root stock.


What a great few weeks of rugby we have enjoyed during this year’s Autumn Internationals Series, with our home nation teams doing well against tough opposition - particularly the Irish and Welsh teams who beat those significant giants of rugby, New Zealand and South Africa.

However, the real winners for me were the stadium grounds teams who for four weeks on the bounce delivered excellent playing surfaces - no doubt helped by the investment in reinforced pitches, lighting rigs, hi-tech machinery and a robust feeding regime.

The combination of all these inputs have helped enormously, coupled with the dedication of the grounds teams who in the last few years have had to learn many new skills when using these new technologies.

This four-week fixture list is very challenging with so much activity going on between matches. Once the match has finished the grounds team then spend the next few hours cleaning up the pitch, hovering up surface debris, trying to get the sward to stand back up, before they then start the whole process of preparing the pitch for the next match.

Each and every stadium will have its own unique set of problems and issues to overcome between each fixture. For example I know one of the most problematic issues is the use of logos on the pitches. Speaking to Keith Kent at Twickenham, he says has soon as the game has finished, he will pro-core the whole pitch, and then get the logos washed off as quickly as they can. They then set up a mobile lighting rig to help dry out and encourage some regrowth on the logoed areas. It will then be a case of helping the grass recuperate and preparing the pitch for the next match.

After the Barbarian game, Keith and his team will have staged six international games, six captain’s runs and several warm ups on the hallowed turf of Twickenham, along with coping with over 25mm rain during the All Blacks Match. The combination of having a free draining sandy pitch profile coupled with tireless work of the grounds staff definitely helped the pitch cope with the heavy deluge of rain.

Which brings me on to discussing the benefits of carrying out effective aeration work during this time of the year. Most, if not all, soil based pitches will benefit from a regular programme of aeration work, or better still investing in some deeper tine and linear aeration work using either a verti-drain style punch aerator or alternatively using a linear deep blade aerator. Both can aerate to a depth of 220mm.

As for golf courses, this time of the year generally sees the start of the winter work programmes, usually centred around major drainage work, tee repairs, bunker repairs and ditch and pond cleaning. During my time working as a greenkeeper, I really enjoyed these jobs. You are able to learn new skills and get a lot of satisfaction in seeing the work completed.


Other works included a lot of tree management such as crown reducing / thinning and lifting. All a good excuse to have a fire and keep ourselves warm during the winter months.

Now is also the time to start planting trees and hedges, particularly planting bare root stock material which tend to be cheaper than containerised plants and trees. I personally believe we should encourage more planting of hedges.

Some hedgerows are so important that no amount of planting could replace them. The government has brought in legislation to protect hedgerows of key importance (currently in England and Wales only). Hedgerows provide food and shelter for many species. Because they often link small woods, they are essential protective corridors along which wildlife can travel.

Hedges may support up to 80% of our woodland birds, 50% of our mammals and 30% of our butterflies. The ditches and banks associated with hedgerows provide habitat for frogs, toads, newts and reptiles. Hedges are an excellent feature to plant, providing a wealth of benefits, acting as a wind break, barrier or screen.


The species of hedge has a big influence on the amount of clipping work. Some, such as privet, lonicera, cotoneasters, Leyland cypress and Monterey cypress are very rapid growers, capable of making a decent hedge in four or five years, but they also need most maintenance. Lonicera and privet may need clipping as often as four times each year in order to maintain a formal shape.

Slower-growing hedges, such as beech, yew, griselinia, thuya, lawson cypress, hawthorn, hornheam, berberis, olearia and holly hold their neat look with a single clipping each year.

For a neat, formal hedge you could use conifer, laurel (which has the added bonus of white flowers in spring), privet and beech or try holly or yew for their red berries. Box hedging has suffered considerably in some areas with box blight, so check your area carefully before planting this as an option.

For security, try thorny plants like hawthorn or berberis, which will have the bonus of flowers and berries.

You might think that hedges are an expensive option. This is not always the case; hedging plants can be bought very cheaply, especially when bought as bare root stock. Bare root material need to be planted between November and March.

To plant a bare root hedge, first clear the ground of weeds. Next, dig out a trench of about a spade depth and add well-rotted muck or compost to the soil at the bottom as this will give the hedge an excellent start and keep it going for many years to come.

The plants can be placed in the trench up to their original soil line, adding soil and incorporating bone meal (for root development) and a slow acting fertiliser. Plant at a distance of between 38-45 cm (15-18"), depending on the variety, and make sure they are well firmed in to avoid movement during winter wind and rain.

In an area where security or vandalism is a problem, a temporary fence can be erected alongside the hedge to help nurse it towards maturity, after which it may be taken down allowing the hedge to stand of its own accord.


Next time you are out walking, take the opportunity to admire our wonderful countryside and see for yourself the impact hedges have made over many generations. It now down to us to continue to properly manage these precious heritage landscape features for future generations to enjoy.

Described as 'definitive'
IOG Prospectus

The IOG says their newly launched Prospectus details the many training courses and qualifications available from the institute.


The new IOG Prospectus is described by the institute as the definitive guide to their Training and Education, detailing the many training courses and qualifications available. The 44-page booklet outlines the qualifications, training courses and advisory services available to help support individual career development and future opportunities.



Also included is an ‘at-a-glance’ career roadmap showing how all the different options dovetail to create progression pathways.


In addition, there is an explanation of the IOG’s Pitch Grading Framework - guidelines that match pitch quality standards with the skills required to maintain them, at every level from volunteer grassroots playing surfaces needing introductory certification through to foundation degrees for professionals at elite stadia.


The IOG say the Prospectus offers something for everyone; a blended learning system that allows access to IOG courses in the workplace, the classroom or online, to enable everyone to enhance their skillset and knowledge.


A host of IOG training courses are outlined, for winter pitches, cricket, bowls, racecourses, warm season grasses, reinforced pitches and artificial surfaces, as well as ‘general’ and bespoke courses. The qualifications offered by the IOG include:

  • Technical Awards, Certificates and Diplomas in turf surface maintenance;
  • Certificate in sustainable turf management;
  • Professional Certificate and Diploma in turf surface management;
  • Professional Certificate in turf surface consulting; and
  • Supervisor Management Level 3.

Commenting on the launch of the IOG Prospectus, chief executive Geoff Webb said: “The IOG is committed to encouraging continual skills development and is passionate about supporting those wanting to learn how to improve playing surfaces at every level of the sporting spectrum.


“Thousands of grounds people train with us each year, as well as the many who undertake IOG qualifications, and the IOG Prospectus now provides an easy-reference guide for everyone involved.”


A PDF copy of the IOG Prospectus can viewed in the Learning area of the IOG website here and printed copies are available from the IOG by calling 01908 312511 or via email: Learning@iog.org

Starting new company
Reece Watson announced his departure on his LinkedIn

It has been reported that head groundsman at the Emirates Stadium, Reece Watson, will be leaving the club in February 2019.


It has been reported that head groundsman at the Emirates Stadium, Reece Watson will be leaving the club in February 2019.


Reece Watson's LinkedIn


The Mirror said that Reece has been an integral part of the club for 13 years, progressing from assistant groundsman to head groundsman and that he worked very well with former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who liked the pitch to always be in top condition to match his passing style of football.


Reece said on LinkedIn, "After 13 years at the club, I have decided to move on to the next chapter. I will leave my position in February to start a new and innovative company which will approach things differently and I’m confident will have a great impact on our industry.


"I would like to thank Arsenal FC for the amazing opportunities they have provided me, for which I will be forever grateful.


"I leave behind a fantastic team and indeed some of my closest friends, all of whom have had such a positive influence on my life. I’m very excited for what the future holds, watch this space."

Entitled 'Adapt & Survive'
Amenity Forum

During February to April 2019, the Amenity Forum will be running a total of 13 free Updating events across the UK.


During February to April 2019, the Amenity Forum will be running a total of 13 free Updating events across the UK.



As half day events, the Forum says they are open to everyone involved in or with an interest in amenity management. They will provide updates on topical issues and recent developments with contributions from policy makers and practitioners.


With the review of the UK’s National Action Plan underway, the Forum believe these days will also provide real opportunity to hear your views and concerns.

The events this year are entitled ‘Adapt and Survive’ with headline sponsorship from JSD Rail and with each event hosted by a member organisation.


The full programme will be announced soon but interested parties can register interest now by emailing Admin@amenityforum.net As soon as the full programme is available, it will then be forwarded for you to book a place at the location of your choice.

Wins £1.65m National Lottery grant
Bathscape Landscape Partnership

The Bathscape Landscape Partnership officially launched the project delivery stage of Bathscape at a recent event following confirmation of the HLF funding award.


An ambitious scheme to restore and protect Bath’s local natural heritage has secured £1.65 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).


The Bathscape Landscape Partnership officially launched the project delivery stage of Bathscape at a recent event held at the city’s Roman Baths following confirmation of the HLF funding award.



The scheme will bring to life 25 projects over the next 5 years that aim to restore, and improve access to, the UNESCO World Heritage City’s landscape. Bathscape will also provide a wide range of training and skill development opportunities for local people.


Chaired by Andrew Grant, founder and director of Bath based landscape architect Grant Associates, Bathscape is a partnership of conservation organisations, community groups, businesses, universities and Bath & North East Somerset Council (BANES).


Match-funding, together with donations from partners and volunteers in the form of time and material, will increase the total invested in Bath’s landscape by the scheme to £2.2 million.


Bathscape’s projects were developed through 18 months of consultation with residents, landowners and organisations, and partnership will continue to be at the heart of their delivery.


The Bathscape area covers 101 sq km and stretches from Charmy Down to the north of the city to Combe Hay in the south, and from Kingsdown to the east to Corston in the west.


Projects in the scheme include:

  • Improving the condition and management of important woodlands, grasslands and historic landscape features
  • Providing training, opportunities and resources for local people to get involved in the study and enhancement of the local landscape
  • A five-year programme of walks and other public events in the landscape including the annual Bathscape Walking Festival and healthy walking groups linked to GP surgeries
  • A waymarked ‘round Bath’ promoted walking network
  • Working with schools and education providers to encourage outdoor learning and develop skills

Andrew Grant, Chair of Bathscape Landscape Partnership said, "We are thrilled to see the official launch of Bathscape - all thanks to National Lottery players. Bath’s green setting is world famous and constitutes an integral part of its World Heritage City status.Through these 25 projects we want to conserve the heritage of the landscape but also to create ways for many more people to enjoy, understand, engage with and benefit from this amazing asset. Along with more than 100,000 people, the area is home to a huge variety of wildlife, features of historic, geological and archaeological interest and abounds with cultural history. Over the next five years we will be encouraging people to join us in helping to protect, and enjoy, our stunning local landscape.”


Moves up Interbrand rankings
John Deere

John Deere is now ranked 88th in the Best Global Brands research which was announced recently by brand consulting firm Interbrand.


John Deere has again earned a spot among the world’s most valuable brands in an annual ranking completed by brand consulting firm Interbrand.


The manufacturer is now ranked 88th in the Best Global Brands research announced recently, moving up four spots from a year ago. Interbrand estimates the John Deere brand to now be worth approximately $5.4 billion, a 12 per cent increase on last year.



“A decade after the global financial crisis, the brands that are growing fastest are those that intuitively understand their customers and make brave iconic moves that delight and deliver in new ways,” said Charles Trevail, Interbrand’s global chief executive officer. Interbrand said its brand valuation is based on three key areas - financial performance of the brand; the brand’s influence on purchase decisions; and the brand’s strength to create loyalty and sustainable customer demand.


“This recognition emphasises the success of our 70,000 employees worldwide who work each day to deliver on the company’s core values of integrity, quality, commitment and innovation,” said Samuel R Allen, Deere & Company chairman and chief executive officer.


John Deere has been included in the Best Global Brand ranking since 2011, when Interbrand estimated the value of the John Deere brand to be $3.65 billion. The Interbrand methodology was the first of its kind to be certified by the International Organisation for Standardisation requirements for monetary brand valuation.

At IOG Awards
Matthew Skingle from Coventry City Training Ground, left, is presented his Most Promising Student of the Year Award at the IOG Awards by Reesink’s Alastair Rowell

Toro and Reesink Turfcare announced Matthew Skingle from Coventry City Training Ground as the winner of the Most Promising Student of the Year Award at the recent IOG Awards.


Award sponsors Toro and Reesink Turfcare, an official UK Toro distributor, say they were delighted to announce Matthew Skingle from Coventry City Training Ground as the winner of the Most Promising Student of the Year Award at the tenth annual Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Awards recently.


Matthew, who was presented his award by Reesink’s Alastair Rowell, was recognised as an ambitious and passionate groundsman who has plans to use his award to encourage others, particularly younger people, into the industry.


Matthew Skingle with Reesink’s Alastair Rowell


Matthew, who has wanted to pursue a career in the industry since first getting a taste for groundskeeping at a young age, said, “The industry as it stands consists mostly of an older generation, which is great on one hand because they have a lot of experience we can learn from, but we need to ensure the industry has a future.


“I’d love to inspire young people. I really benefitted from work experience in the industry through school and wouldn’t ever have considered a career as a groundsman without it. It gave me the chance to see what it was like. So, I think we should do more to get out there and show younger people what it’s really like.”


After a successful year studying at South Essex College while working at Coventry City, Matthew is now working full-time as a groundsman at the club. “It was great to do the course and expand on my knowledge,” he says. “I’ve learned a lot in this past year and I know I’m really lucky to be part of such a great team.”


Speaking of the awards, he said: “I was so shocked when I found out I’d won. I wasn’t expecting to be a finalist so even that was an honour in itself. The competition was tough, and the other finalist was really deserving as well, so I was chuffed to win. I’m really grateful that Toro sponsors the award as I believe this will give me a platform that will help my career.”


He continues: “In this industry if you work hard, you can get far and that’s what I intend to do. I’d like to be head groundsman at a stadium one day, or even a pitch advisor for IOG. The opportunities are limitless.”


Marketing manager at Reesink Turfcare, Holly Jones, said, “Encouraging and supporting young talent in the grounds industry is a hugely important undertaking for us and sponsoring this award demonstrates Toro’s long-term commitment to the development of the industry and our investment in the careers of young people. This is a wonderful achievement for Matthew, and we hope the award continues to encourage more young talent like himself. We will follow his career with great interest.”

At SRUC Oatridge campus
SRUC Oatridge students introduced to Pellenc battery-powered equipment

Landscaping, horticulture and agricultural engineering students in West Lothian recently participated in an event which gave them the opportunity to learn more about Pellenc’s battery technology.


Landscaping, horticulture and agricultural engineering students at the unique SRUC Oatridge campus in West Lothian near Edinburgh recently participated in an event which gave them the opportunity to learn more about Pellenc’s battery technology and gain some hands on experience with a wide range of equipment.


SRUC Oatridge students introduced to Pellenc battery-powered equipment


SRUC College is a bespoke land based industries institution based throughout Scotland which offers a number of courses at all levels from college and university level study, through to postgraduate, consultancy and research opportunities. Many of the courses at the Oatridge campus relate to the ways in which we make use of the land and natural resources around us - from agriculture and horticulture to veterinary nursing and equestrianism, and a huge variety of land based topics in between.


The College has a philosophy of continuously exploring the science that supports these land-based industries, and the way they interact with and support the environment around them. It is for this reason that Thomas Meenagh, a horticulture lecturer at Oatridge, decided that it would be a good idea for the students to become familiar with the increasingly popular battery powered machinery.


“I think that in every walk of society it is becoming common knowledge that we should be more environmentally friendly and be producing less CO2 and greenhouse gasses. An awful lot of hand held powered equipment used in land based industries comes with two-stroke engines which burn off fuel and oil, and so it is good to see the likes of landscaping and horticulture industries moving towards battery powered machinery.


“As a teaching institution we should be ahead of the game; we should be at the forefront of this kind of development - so that is why I wanted to organise some kind of event which could introduce the students to this equipment.”


Having being in the market to buy some battery powered equipment, Thomas’ research led him to Pellenc, which is exclusively distributed in the UK and Ireland by Etesia. He arranged for four sessions to take place over two days in which Etesia representatives firstly delivered a theory based session which offered a greater insight into the Pellenc technology, followed by a practical demonstration. The students were then invited to trial the equipment for themselves.


“The students were delighted because they got to use the equipment to cut hedges, cut grass, use brush cutters and much more. The feedback was excellent and they were very impressed with the equipment. They commented on it being really light - a lot lighter than equipment they had been exposed to in the past. They also remarked on the equipment having very low vibration, being very quiet and extremely efficient.”


In reflecting on a successful event, Thomas believes that it was essential that the students got a first glimpse of the products that they could very well be using on a regular basis in the future.


“I would anticipate that in five years from now this kind of equipment will be the norm throughout the industry. By the time the students graduate and get jobs no doubt the two stroke fuel equipment will become less and less common and the battery powered equipment will be more dominant in the workplace."

Dealer sees fruits of construction partnership
Lloyd Ltd in Bishop Auckland recently hosted the 2018 Bobcat Customer Roadshow

Carlisle-based Lloyd Ltd has expanded the services it provides for customers in the construction and hire markets, which they say has brought significant benefits.


Carlisle-based Lloyd Ltd has expanded the services it provides for customers in the construction and hire markets - which they say has brought significant benefits for both themselves and Bobcat.


They say results have been especially impressive in product and aftermarket sales for the Bobcat range of compact loaders, compact excavators and attachments. As well as the construction and rental markets, the other main sectors for Lloyd are agriculture, groundcare and materials handling, where they say sales of Bobcat equipment have also increased.


Lloyd Ltd in Bishop Auckland recently hosted the 2018 Bobcat Customer Roadshow


This has been supported by Lloyd’s own finance team, with a wide choice of finance options available to suit different customers in the market. It is one of the advantages that arises from cross-fertilisation with the motor vehicle side of the Lloyd business, covering the same areas in the North of England and the South of Scotland.


Alistair Whitby, dealer principal at the Lloyd branch in Bishop Auckland, said, “The expansion in construction has delivered a 20% rise in Bobcat business. This is backed by similar increases in the number of finance packages we have sold. We are also investing heavily in our facilities and processes to ensure that it is even easier for new and existing Bobcat customers to do business with us. The Construction side is headed by our construction sales manager, Chris Stephenson, who runs out of Bishop Auckland and Newcastle.”


As well as building new premises for the Penrith branch, Lloyd say the construction expansion includes new investments in facilities together worth over £7 million, including refurbishment of the Carlisle, Newcastle and Kelso branches. The investment also includes a new facility Lloyd Ltd is planning opposite the current Bishop Auckland branch, where a new 2900 m2 building will be constructed on company-owned land that will offer an outstanding showroom, triple workshop area and a training centre.


In the six years the company has been a Bobcat dealer, Lloyd has developed very close ties with Bobcat, with regular focus meetings with Paul Hyslop, the Bobcat District Manager UK North. The focus meetings explore every aspect of the Bobcat-Lloyd relationship, with a key discussion being customer focused actions to ensure the right customers are targeted with the right solutions and including forward planning on stocks of Bobcat products to help optimise lead times for customers.


Paul Hyslop commented, “I have been very pleased with the strides taken over the last two years by Lloyd, which have provided a significant boost to Bobcat sales in the areas they cover. I was delighted that Bishop Auckland was able to host the recent 2018 Bobcat Customer Roadshow as it toured England and Scotland, providing a great Bobcat experience for existing and prospective customers alike.”

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Find our previous features here
TurfPro Feature Archive

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Catch up with Laurence Gale's recent blogs
TurfPro editor, Laurence Gale

Want to catch up with one of editor Laurence Gale's blogs? Here is the place to do so.


Recognising the value of our public green spaces


The value of leaf blowers


Keeping up to date with training


Innovation was the buzzword


A celebration of our industry


Injuries and infections in the news


At the Amenity Forum Conference


Problem highlighted by national newspaper


Dedicated greenkeepers shine in Paris


Dedication pays off


Trade show illustrates diversity of our industry


Following good practice


Challenging conditions this year


Our main industry events are a must visit


Plan and prepare early


And the selling of Wembley Stadium


Highlighting the work of turf professionals


Difficult time for our whole industry


Every pitch stood up to the demands


In praise of the The Green Flag Award® scheme

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