Turf Words - Issue 23

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SISGrass — the latest in hybrid turf technology

With an eye to the future of hybrid turf technology, our general manager Cameron Mexted brought a state-of-the-art SISGrass Universal stitching machine from the Netherlands to New Zealand this winter, in conjunction with Australasian distributor G5 Sports Turf, to conduct trials at eleven highprofile venues around the country including the Basin Reserve, Eden Park and the Bert Sutcliffe Oval. Mexteds also demonstrated the machine to turf managers at the Fine Turf Seminar in Taupo in June. The electric-driven, European-engineered, laser-guided machine stitches five percent polyethylene monofilament yarn into

natural turf, improving durability and stability of the profile, and helping to create a consistent playing surface. SIS Pitches have been installed at many of the world’s most important sporting venues, including Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, and the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow for the World Football Cup 2018. The New Zealand trials set up by Mexteds focused on highuse areas such as goal mouths, cricket wickets and even a golf tee-box, where the yarn was stitched at 2cm x 2cm spacings and a depth of 80-90mm. After a pass the yarn is trimmed with a reel mower and from then on the turf is maintained in Continued page 2

The SISGrass Universal machine can operate 24 hours a day to complete jobs in the shortest possible timeframes the same way as natural turf, including mowing and aeration.

and he’s looking forward to evaluating it over the next 12 months as they start playing on it.

Feedback from the New Zealand trials has been very positive, with clients keen to add further hybrid stitched areas in the future.

“We think it’s got a lot of potential to make a big difference in the way we manage our cricket pitches moving forward. We are looking at extending the life of a cricket pitch and getting more games played per pitch than has been done before, which is going to take a lot of pressure off.”

At Porirua Park, home of Wellington Jubilee Cup champions, Northern United, Porirua City Council decided to stitch an area in middle of the park that was prone to being ripped up, leading to complete loss of grass cover. PCC’s turf manager, Glen Smith, says he’s very impressed with the results. “The stability of that area now is ten-fold what it was. What I really liked about it is you could play on it straight away afterwards. [SISGrass] were on and off and it was right to go.” An added bonus at Porirua Park was the two heavy rollers on the machine that have helped level the slightly uneven surface, where turf had been placed previously. Glen says, “We are really happy with the result. There is very little wear and tear, if any. We will look at targeting other high use areas in the future.” SISGrass also demonstrated the benefits of hybrid stitching into cricket wickets with successful trials at the Basin Reserve and Bert Sutcliffe Oval, home of New Zealand Cricket. Ian McKendry, New Zealand Cricket’s General Manager Grounds and Facilities says SISGrass is an exciting initiative

Maidstone makeover

A major redevelopment of Maidstone Park - home of the Upper Hutt Rams - to a full sand carpet will offer rugby players in the region top-class facilities once the project is completed and handed over next year. Mexteds was able to bring integrated in-house services to complete this major project, from surveying, set out and asbuilting by our contracts manager, Shane Maddren, through to construction, irrigation and grow-in by our operations team. Mexteds started work on the large four-hectare site in March, removing the turf layer using a purpose-built planer. By limiting the planing depth to just 20mm we were able to win 15mm of topsoil across the whole area, reducing the requirement for imported soil by nearly 500 cubic metres. The old playing fields had never been built to a uniform level, so our laser-controlled land-levellers fitted with hydrauliccontrolled tines were used to cultivate the surface, and 2,500 cubic metres of cut-to fill and grading work was carried out across the whole park in an extensive re-shaping exercise.

Our irrigation specialist, Rob Willis, is overseeing the installation of a high-performance irrigation system, which requires trenching of the main lines and sub-mains, installation of valves, a bore pump, booster pumps and tanks. Though work on the site has slowed during the winter months, we’ve continued to make progress around the periphery of the park, including running a new power cable to the pump shed, and installation of the pump headworks. Mexteds have another eight to ten weeks work ahead to complete the grading and primary and sandslit drainage, followed by the installation of the sand carpet layer. The new fields will then be seeded with ryegrass and the three month grow-in phase will begin.

The clean lime saved from an on-site softball diamond was transported to nearby Whakatiki Park where we recycled it and built a new temporary court for the Totara Park Softball Club. A seam of river boulders running through the centre of Maidstone Park was the next challenge we faced as we began the installation of new main and lateral drainage lines, leading to many pick replacements on our Maletti rocksaw trenching wheel.

The new softball diamond takes shape at Whakatiki Park

Wide ranging upgrades at HIBS Hutt International Boys School has invested in its playing fields and outdoor areas this autumn, with Mexteds undertaking renovations including disc seeding seven fields in two passes with Reliant turf ryegrass, as well as weed spraying and fertilising. Peter Watt has recently taken on the role of groundsman, having worked as a teacher at the school. He admits it’s been a steep learning curve, and appreciates the advice he’s received from our general HIBS artificial turf ‘rage cage’, a popular spot for basketball and three-aside football manager, Cameron Mexted, an alumni of the school, as well as our operations team. Peter describes the HurriShifter as a fantastic piece of Peter Watt says, “Your guys were fantastic to work with. Nothing was a problem and they were all professional. I appreciated them sharing their knowledge with me.”

equipment, and says he’ll be getting it back to remove the rugby posts again before the cricket season. “You wouldn’t do it by hand, it’s just too dangerous.”

Peter is convinced the intensive turf renovation work this year has really held the playing fields together over winter. He’s also seen a reduction in worm casts, despite not applying any chemical controls, which he attributes to more grass growth and less bare patches.

Peter’s also been building up his own equipment to carry out more sports-turf maintenance work in-house, and our workshop manager, Clayton Tume, engineered a custom-built drag broom for the school to use on their artificial tennis and hockey courts.

HIBS also decided to widen one of its rugby fields, leading to the relocation of the goal post sleeves. Once Mexteds had completed installing the new sleeves we used our purpose-built goal post lifter, the HurriShifter, to safely lift the new rugby posts into place.

Rounding out our work for HIBS this year, Mexteds also renewed the artificial turf in the hugely popular ‘rage cage’ area, where students play basketball and three-aside football. “It’s one of the most utilised areas in the school and it takes a real hammering,” says Peter.

New Upper Hutt maintenance contract Mexteds is moving into the weekly sports field preparation arena, having recently been awarded the Upper Hutt City Council sports fields preparation and maintenance contract. The three year contract covers the preparation and maintenance of the sports fields, training areas and artificial surfaces for all the Upper Hutt City Council parks. Mexteds will be looking after cricket, softball, league, football and rugby facilities at the council’s eight sports fields, ensuring they are up to the required structural and playing standards, as well as being well presented. While much of the work will be business as usual for Mexteds, especially when it comes to renovation work,

we’ll also have two staff fully dedicated to the contract. One will be looking after the tractor and surround mowing aspects of the work, while the other will be focused on weekly sporting preparations including line marking, cricket wicket preparations, softball diamond marking, levelling and artificial turf maintenance. Seasonally, extra staff will be involved, especially at code changeover times when goal posts are being installed, fields set up and renovation work is required. Cameron Mexted says, “We are really looking forward to working more closely with Upper Hutt City Council and building on our good relationships with the clubs and regional sporting associations who use the parks.”

Artificial transformation A growing interest in artificial turf solutions has seen Mexteds transforming outdoor spaces and sports facilities for private clients, schools and tennis clubs recently. Our artificials expert, Jules de Vries, recently led a small team at Carncot School in Palmerston North, converting two old asphalt tennis courts into synthetic courts, subcontracting to Unreal Grass Ltd. Baz Woodcock of Unreal Group says “The existing asphalt grounds were worn and tired and the hard surface didn’t lend itself well to some of the school activities and sports the school wanted to promote.” Carncot has a very active sports programme and decided to create a multi-sport area catering for netball, hockey, tennis and basketball, as well as a high-quality surface that could be used for ‘pop up’ activity days.

The Mexteds crew set out, laid and installed Unreal Grass HF12mm multisport turf, with lines for the different codes marked out in bold white, purple and yellow. Baz Woodcock says, “From start to finish, the communication and installation expertise has been top drawer from Jules and the team. We have contracted Mexteds several times in the past for specialist sports turf work and because of their attention to detail and professionalism, we will certainly be using them again.”

Best croquet courts in Wellington region The Hutt Valley Waimarie Croquet Club held its top tournament of the season at the end of March on new greens built by Mexteds, with the winner on the day declaring the courts ‘the best in the Wellington region’. It was a great outcome for the club following Mexteds’ revamp of Taita’s disused bowling greens into five new croquet courts and a practice area. Mexteds worked for head contractors, PCL Limited, installing full primary drainage and 2,500 metres of secondary sandslit drains. Our irrigation expert, Rob Willis, also designed and installed a powerful irrigation system, laying the lines with a mole plow for convenience and speed. After spreading topsoil and achieving the finished grades we sowed a blend of brown top and chewing's fescue, and managed the grow-in over the next few months. Waimarie Croquet Club chairman Kevin Fellows sent Mexteds a message of thanks as the grow-in came to an end and the first matches were played. "Your efforts over many months, along with the double

mowings and closer cutting in the final week, combined to produce courts of excellent flatness, uniformity and sufficient speed for high level tournament play."

Newlands Park upgrade

A drive to improve sports facilities in its growing northern suburbs prompted Wellington City Council to invest in better drainage at Newlands Park this year, where the two fields are used for rugby and soccer. Mexteds undertook the work in two stages. A CCTV survey revealed that the existing primary drains were too far apart to be effective, so Mexteds installed 2,900 metres of extra lateral drains to create a uniform five-metre spaced system. We also reshaped an old block, changing the levels to create a better surface, before over-sowing and fertilising the drain lines and reshaped areas. Lawrence Orr, WCC’s Team Manager Sportsfields, says stage one has gone well with good

grass strike. “Mexteds has done a pretty good job, as expected.” We’re now on to stage two, installing gravel bands at 400mm centres and applying 20mm of sand across the whole surface in two applications. Once the gravel banding is complete, we’ll dimple seed the fields, apply fertiliser and add the finishing touches with a drag broom and roll. Lawrence Orr says the field will be topdressed each year to maintain the improvements to the field. Newlands Park will re-open in October for the upcoming softball season.

Renovations at the Basin The Basin Reserve Trust is on top of preparations for an early summer cricket season, after engaging Mexteds to undertake their annual block renovations in the autumn. Our team leader, Brent Dornan, grooved and swept the main block and practice block, then together with Hagen Faith’s Basin Reserve team we spread Patumahoe clay over the whole main block and laser graded the practice block. Troublesome areas where there was a build-up of thatch in the outfield were then vertidrained with Mexteds’ custombuilt corer with 50mm tines and the area was swept and sanded.

Mazengarb drainage upgrade

CCTV investigations of an old herringbone drainage system at Mazengarb Reserve’s sports fields in Paraparaumu revealed extensive root infestation, which prompted Kāpiti Coast District Council to engage Mexteds to design and install a brand new system of lateral and collector drains. The fields are used for touch rugby in summer and football in winter and are used extensively both during the week and at

weekends, so minimising the time it took to complete the work was very important, says KCDC’s Recreation Facilities Coordinator, Mark Hammond. The council chose to deal with half the playing fields at the northern end of the park this year, where we installed 400 metres of lateral drains and an 88 metre collector drain. Mark Hammond was pleased with the speed of the job as well as the effects of the drainage. “Mexteds put a pretty comprehensive team in and got to work straight away and got the work done very quickly.”

Gravel banding at Otaraua Park, Kapiti Coast Mexteds has been installing gravel banding secondary drainage at Otaraua Park for Kāpiti Coast District Council recently, following installation of primary drains last summer. The park is next to a major river and has a high water table, so drainage is a key issue for the Council according to Mark Hammond, KCDC’s Recreation Facilities Coordinator. He says they’re already seeing a marked benefit this winter on the half of the park that’s had primary and secondary drainage installed. “Where there’s no drainage you are walking in puddles, and at the first line of drainage you are walking on dry ground, it’s incredible. The gravel banding has had an immense impact.”

Otaraua Park

It’s also has meant considerably more games have been played on the fields this winter and KCDC plans to continue with more drainage of the park in the future.

Nga Puna Wai Sports Hub handover

Mexteds’ work at Nga Puna Wai Sports Hub is now complete, following the handover to Christchurch City Council of two new premier sand-carpet fields.

metres of secondary sandslit drains. We then applied a 100mm sand carpet layer before grassing with a sports turf ryegrass.

The grounds are home to Canterbury Rugby League, where players and spectators will benefit from the Council’s investment in the new facilities, including field lighting and covered spectator seating for 550 rugby league fans.

Mexteds also managed the grow-in over a 12-week period including fertilising, mowing, rolling and weed control.

Sub-contracting to HEB Construction, Mexteds began by levelling the subgrade and placing 100mm of topsoil, before installing a full primary and secondary drainage system including 1,900 metres of lateral drains and 19,000

Grant Bunting, CCC’s Team Leader Parks Sector South says they are using both the number one and number two fields this winter. “The fields are looking good and the rugby league code is loving it. Mexteds provided a very good service. It’s going to be a fantastic asset for us to maintain and manage.”

We’re recruiting! We are actively recruiting for roles in our sports turf operations team. If you are interested in progressing your career in sports turf and working for a progressive company who are leaders in the field, check out our website (under Contact > Employment), email us your CV, or call Cameron Mexted to have a confidential chat. Mexted Performance Sports Surfaces | 27 Ulric Street, Plimmerton 5026


PO Box 54-236, Mana, Porirua

P: (04) 233 0703 | Cameron Mexted, General Manager M: 027 4953 963 | www.mexteds.co.nz


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