Latymer Upper School is a fully co-educational facility situated on the banks of the Thames in West London.
STRI was commissioned to re-design the school’s playing fields to overcome waterlogged conditions and provide near all-year-round playability of the pitches. A fully integrated gravel raft design was chosen and installed.
It was noted that the pitches were developing a silty layer which slowed drainage and sometimes destabilised the surface. This was mainly due to organic matter development, from grass clippings and the accumulation of fines. Initially, increased aeration and sand dressings were applied but this did not fully resolve the situation.
In stadia pitches of a similar design regular re-surfacing occurs in the close season to refresh the surface and address any organic matter build up. This was difficult to achieve as the venue is a multi-sport site and the close season is short. The solution was to zone the site, surface plane off smaller areas and remove “silt” before sanding and seeding. This made it possible to bring the areas back into play quickly enough for the start of the school term, although the new areas needed to be managed carefully and wear restricted. To assist in ensuring the process could be undertaken in a timely manner, the school purchased its own Koro Topmaker.
The result has been to set the clock back to the time of construction and increase the ryegrass percentages. However, as it will take around five renovations to fully fully clean the site, it was planned to keep the process going over the longer term to reduce the issue.
The profile allows for a high level of growth control, so a combination of liquid and granular feeds are used as growth is needed. The site is aerated as frequently as schedules allow (normally monthly) and dust sanding and seeding of worn areas is essential to retain grass cover. As the site is small, regular surface rotation is needed to retain good grass cover on wear areas.
The installation of a fully integrated gravel raft was very successful and gave significantly increased wear and playability.
Successful re-design of the site has given near year-round playability.
STRI continues to support the school, providing agronomic advice.