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Dr Ian Plummer

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Lawn Care
Croquet Lawns: Their establishment, improvement and maintenance

Editor: John Beech
Published by The Croquet Association, January 1999






  1. In 1975 R.F. Rothwell, Secretary of the Croquet Association (CA) produced a paper for Croquet Clubs entitled 'Notes on the Construction of Croquet Lawns'.
  2. The CA Development Committee decided, in 1998, to update that information and this booklet seeks to assist Croquet Clubs, other Sports Clubs, hotels and others into the new millennium, in the preparation, improvement and maintenance of their lawns.
  3. Much of the 1975 advice has been reproduced here and the CA is indebted to the detailed research undertaken by R.F. Rothwell at that time.
  4. The turf experts in the UK are the officers and advisors of the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI), Bingley, West Yorkshire, BD16 1AU.
    A symposium of their work on fine sports greens is contained in their publication 'Bowling Greens, their History, Construction and Maintenance. R.D.C. Evans' First published 1988, the second fully revised edition was published in 1992. STRI also publishes Information Leaflets and the 'International Turfgrass Bulletin'. A list of publications is available to clubs on request. This is the source of much of the new material in this bulletin.
    The CA has a copy of this publication which is available to registered clubs. Full details of the loan terms and deposit required are available from the Secretary of the CA.
    The Institute of Groundsmanship produces a Monthly Magazine 'The Groundsman', provides courses in groundsmanship and sponsors an annual exhibition, which some croquet clubs have found useful for viewing specialist turf machinery, and provide consultancy services. Enquiries to 19-23 Church Street, The Agora, Wolverton, Milton Keynes. MKI2 5LG. Telephone 01908 311140. 
  5. Reference made in this publication to 'the Laws' means 'The Laws of Association Croquet and Golf Croquet' published by the CA.
  6. Neither the CA, nor the editor of this booklet can accept responsibility for actions of clubs or their members, nor can they be held responsible for any editorial omissions or errors. John Beech, the editor, is happy to discuss projects or problems with members of clubs, and although technically qualified in the field does not claim to be an expert in turf culture.

Playing Area

  1. The playing area of a standard full sized croquet court is defined in Law I as a rectangle 35 yards by 28 yards. It will be noted that the ratio of the length to the width is 5 to 4. These dimensions are of the playing area measured to the inside of the definitive boundary lines. The Laws do not define the boundary lines except that they shall be marked out clearly. They are usually chalk or whiting lines 2" to 3" in width. It is important that they should be as straight as possible.
  2. The playing area of a Short Croquet Court is 24 yards by 16 yards, but the practice in most croquet clubs is to bisect a full court with a string line so giving two short courts each 17½ yards by 14 yards.
  3. If the ground available is too small for laying out a full-sized court the dimensions may be scaled down, keeping to the 5 to 4 ratio for the length and breadth. For details of recommended Modified Court see Law 56.
  4. It is desirable to have at least one yard all round the playing area of similar surface to allow for free backswing of mallets but more important to make possible the moving of the court one way or another periodically to permit the moving of the hoop positions. Wear tends to occur between the upright of the hoops due to constant passage of balls through them, particularly in wet weather, and to relieve wear on corner spots groundsmen need to be told how important boundaries and comers are to the game. A tolerance of 6" is allowed on all court dimensions of 7 yards or more to assist with this problem. (Law 1g).
  5. The ideal grass surface for croquet is a perfectly level area of even, fine and closely mown grass, as one would expect to find on a first class flat bowling green or tennis court. A good firm, hard, fast court is preferable to a soft, spongy slow one.

Establishment by development from existing turf

  1. It is quite feasible to develop a croquet lawn from an existing lawn in a garden or hotel providing that the turf is reasonably level. It is even possible to develop a general sports turf area for croquet, subject to it being well drained and basically flat. High quality turf surface will however take much longer to establish using this method, but it is considerably cheaper than court construction. A long-term regime of top dressing, hollow tining, scarification, mowing, nutrition, weed and pest control and in some cases overseeding will repay all the hard work with better quality finer turf. Advice on each of these turf improvement treatments is given below in the section on maintenance. Croquet lawns prepared in this way can cost as little as 10% of the cost of new court construction. Whilst it is true that 'you get what you pay for', development from existing turf is well within the capability of willing volunteers in a club. The highest element of the cost of contracted work is labour or time.


  1. The establishment of a flat court will depend upon a level subsoil. If the area to be prepared is basically level, that is, no variant point higher or lower than six inches, and the topsoil is good quality and free of large stones it is possible to level the topsoil only. Obviously this is the cheapest method of preparation prior to seeding or turfing. The work is best done in reasonably dry conditions.
  2. There is always the danger if the above short-cut method is used that it may be regretted later as it is very hard to put right. The outcome may be that what was the high end finishes up with little or no topsoil and what was the low end has more than is necessary. The grass on what was the high end will never make such good growth as at the other end and what was the lower end will produce richer grass and remain softer. This state may well remain for decades. When considering such elementary levelling it must be borne in mind that grass requires a minimum of four inches of topsoil in which to grow.
  3. Topsoil is fertile living material which supports plant growth. Subsoil, which usually starts 10-12 inches below the surface is infertile and should not be mixed with topsoil.
  4. If the ground is not level enough to employ the simple method mentioned above it will be necessary to strip off the topsoil from the entire area to a depth of about 6 inches and stockpile it off site. The subsoil is then levelled by cut and fill, and as a third operation the topsoil is then replaced. This sounds simple but involves a lot of soil moving.
  5. It should be noted that when consolidated soil is excavated the volume will increase and quantities of shifted soil can appear enormous. DIY projects should not be started without, at least, some initial professional advice.
  6. At the outset the site should be surveyed to establish levels, preferably professionally using modem electronic equipment (the CA has a set of this modem equipment which may be hired by clubs. See appendix 1) or the old-fashioned Dumpy Level. The DIY alternative could be a good long 'straight edge' and a spirit level, which is cheap, but labour intensive and certainly not as accurate as the other methods. Nonetheless, pegging levels at frequent intervals depending on the length of the straight edge, but not further than 10 feet, provides the opportunity to level the soil either by cut and fill or by importation of new material to make up the level of all the low points. No more than a six-inch layer at a time should be built up without mechanical consolidation, the tramping of many feet, or allowing time for settling naturally.
  7. The cost of moving soil in any quantity will be reduced considerably and much time saved if machinery can be used to do the heavy work.
    An earthmover with a good operator (this is essential), will shift more soil in a day than many men. If machinery of any weight is used, it must have access to the site and the amount of damage it may cause in getting to and from the road has to be taken into consideration. Again, it has to be assessed according to how much soil has to be moved, whether heavy machinery is justified, commensurate with the damage it may cause through compaction of the soil, especially if it is a heavy wet clay site. Permanent damage to the natural drainage of the ground may result.


  1. The question of artificial drainage will need to be determined at the initial planning stage. Good independent advice is worth far more than prejudiced views of drainage engineers who want the contract. Not all soils require this very expensive operation. If the land drains quickly after heavy rain do not try to improve what is already satisfactory. On the other hand, land with an impervious substrata or even a sticky clay topsoil will need to have a drainage system installed. This is best done at the stage when the subsoil has been levelled, or before final levelling of topsoil, if only topsoil levelling is required.
  2. It is essential to establish the outflow route for the drainage water and suitable outfills for the drainage, before embarking on the project.
  3. Either a herringbone pattern or a diagonal system of parallel drains should be considered.
  4. The depth will depend on the porosity of the soil, but a good average depth would be 21".
  5. The main drain needs to be 4" or 100 mm and the lateral or subsidiary drains 3 or 75-80 mm. The pipes can be either unglazed clay (known as agricultural tiles) or perforated plastic drainpipes.
  6. The distance between the lateral drains will again vary depending on the soil, but generally between 15 and 20 feet is adequate. The pipes must fall to the outflow points at least 1 in 200 but should not be steeper than 1 in 100.
  7. Pipes must be laid to true line and steady fall on a firm foundation. Stone chippings about 6-10 mm (¼"-½.") should be used to backfill above the pipe to within 200 mm (8") of the surface.
  8. The installation of silt pits with inspection and empty facilities are recommended between the main drains and the outfalls. Finishing the construction work
  9. At this stage a total herbicide should be applied to the whole area to kill all vegetation and to suppress regrowth of perennial weed roots latent in the subsoil following earth movement on levelling the substrata.
  10. The best modern lawn construction includes a complete layer of aggregate across the whole of the court above the level of the drainage pipes. This costly and may not always be necessary. When installed this should be between 4" and 6" deep, of material similar to that used for backfill. Great care is needed not to damage the newly laid drains or to compact the subsoil too much. The best designs incorporate a layer of construction membrane between the subsoil and aggregate, but not between the drainpipes and the aggregate. The whole area needs to be blinded with 2" of coarse sand.
  11. Finally the topsoil is spread over the whole court, filled and levelled to level pegs no more than 10 feet apart. The pegs should be 12" x 1" x 1" (100 are required per court).
  12. The quality of the topsoil can be improved by adding coarse sand but this would need to be mixed before spreading and the labour involved, even using motorised mixers is considerable. Work on the Court at this stage needs to be done by hand and wheelbarrow or lightweight machinery and dumpers.
  13. Hand raking to achieve the flat level surface should be the final operation.
  14. Sometimes screeding battens tamped, pushed and pulled across the soil achieves a more accurate level than raking alone. This is a very labour intensive process particularly as treading in or "heeling in" is often required to achieve even consolidation.
  15. Any lime, fertiliser and/or insecticide should be applied at this stage. A balanced fertiliser would be applied at the rate of 2oz per square yard with a hand-propelled spinner. Seaweed based fertiliser is often used to promote root growth.
  16. Lime should be used only after scientific analysis of the soil and professional advice, as croquet lawns are best slightly acidic, although there is no such thing as the ideal pH value.

Establishing the Grass Layer

  1. Before discussing the merits of seeding versus turfing, the time factor should be mentioned. Seeding in this country is traditionally carried out during two comparatively short periods of the year; spring sowing from early March to late April and Autumn sowing from late August to the end of September. Seeding can be carried out at other times, but in our climate this can be risky, especially with the finer grasses that will be required to make a good croquet lawn, as the weather after the end of September may become too cold for good germination before the onset of winter, and sowing after the end of April may result in hot weather shrivelling up the young grass roots before they have become sufficiently established. Turfing, on the other hand, can be carried out with reasonable safety at any time of year, provided watering is possible if necessary, except in frosty and drought conditions, when it may be impossible to get the turves lifted in the turf fields.
  2. Turfing is extremely expensive and should be undertaken by professionals using fine turf machinery. Turf used for croquet lawns should be cultivated turf with a mixture of grasses similar to that recommended below in the seed mixtures. Only fine grasses should be used. Meadow turf, used for domestic lawns in new housing estates, will take years of improvement to establish a good croquet playing sward. Turf consisting of Fescues and Bents, free of weeds, having a good grass cover not longer than 12 mm, cut to uniform size and depth is ideal. The imported turf should be compatible with the croquet club topsoil for ideal growth conditions.
  3. Turf is delivered to site either stacked on pallets or in small (1 yd x 1 ft) rolls or giant rolls (15 yds x 1 yd). It must not be left in stacks or rolls for more than 7 days. A much shorter period is preferable.
  4. Turf is laid with broken joints, each turf being closely butted to the adjoining one. Turfers work from broad boards placed on turf already laid. The perimeter of the whole court is laid first, followed diagonally corner to corner two turves wide at least. Having laid all turf, the court is then rolled twice, at 90° to each other, with a 250Kg hand roller. Top dressing is then applied at 4 Kg per square metre evenly and drag brushed into the surface.
  5. As the turves begin to knit, more beating and light rolling may be required; also light mowing, according to the season, preferably using a sharp-bladed rotary mower or hovermower for the first few cuts.
    Given good conditions, it may be possible to allow limited play after about three months, depending on the season of laying and the subsequent weather conditions.
  6. With seeding, the work is best programmed for late August. Good fine turf seed is essential, comprising suitable cultivars of Bent and Fescue. An ideal mixture is - 80% Chewings Fescue, 20% Browntop Bent.
    Using Ryegrass strains or other sports field grasses described as 'hard wearing' or 'miracle growth coverage' which are quite suitable for Association or Rugby football, but too strong and wiry for croquet.
    Seed should be sown on a very well prepared seedbed preferably in warm moist conditions at 35g per square metre. The total quantity of seed should be halved, each half sown evenly at 90° to each other.
    Seed may be sown by hand, by spinner or by seed fiddle. After sowing the court should be hand raked lightly.
  7. Good initial maintenance is essential. When the grass is 25mm high remove all surface stones, roll with a 250Kg hand roller and do not mow until the grass has achieved 40mm height. This is best done with a rotary machine ("Flymo" type action) and the clippings collected and removed. The first cut should leave the grass no lower than 25mm. A second mowing should take place when growth has again achieved a height of 40mm. Subsequent cuts can be lower and the final cut before growth ceases in the winter should be to 12mm.
  8. In the following spring an early top dressing will be needed, followed up by several more top dressings and fertiliser treatment. If the work has been done meticulously and first year maintenance has been good it may be possible to use the court for croquet at the beginning of its second spring.
  9. Always remember that perfection will not be achieved initially. Improvement techniques are suggested in paragraphs 51-63.


The Greenmasters' Calendar

This is offered as a general guide, but details will vary with type of lawns, drainage and intensity of use.
  1. January, February, early March
    Operations subject to good weather. No action in frost, snow or excessively wet conditions, otherwise:
    Mowing to keep grass length to about 10mm.
    Moss control - where necessary.
    Fusarium control - if necessary.
    Top dressing can be done only if the weather is suitable (mild and dry) using fine screened materials.
  2. March - April
    Mowing - gradually reduce height of cut to 5mm which is normal for good quality croquet lawns.
    Worm control - if required apply in mild moist weather.
    Fusarium control - if necessary.
    Scarification - when growth is vigorous.
    Rolling - with care using hand roller (250Kg maximum) only on one or two occasions before play starts for the season and only if advised by professional turf consultants.
    Fertiliser - apply spring nitrogen dressing if required.
  3. April - May
    Mowing. As the good weather emerges increase mowing frequency to 2 or 3 times per week. Mower - set at 5mm.
    Raking. Fit comb to mower and use throughout the playing season.
    Ball stop boards. Move to new positions at each mowing to maintain healthy grass.
    Weed control. Selective herbicide spraying when weeds are growing vigorously.
    Fusarium control - as necessary
    Scarification. Regular light scarification monthly throughout the season.
    Line marking. Once per week.
  4. June - September
    Mowing. As frequently as possible
    Raking. Leave the comb in place on the mower.
    Watering. Essential in drought conditions.
    Red thread disease - control if required
    Weed control. May be necessary if April / May application was missed or unsuccessful.
    Dry patches. Fork using a wetting agent.
    Ball stop boards - move frequently.
    Aeration. Spiking may be needed on some courts.
    Scarification. Continue monthly except in very dry conditions.
  5. September - October
    Close of Play. Groundsmen urge play to finish early in September. Croquet players urge maximum play until, at earliest, the end of October. Sensible rationalisation of maintenance and play will ensure harmony of purpose!
    Easier for a big clubs with more than 2 courts.
    Court management needs to be sharp to give both activities opportunities.
    Mowing. Continue less frequently, gradually raising the height of cut to winter level.
    Scarification. A thorough deep treatment before winter sets in.
    Renovation. Seeding, turfing, general repairs.
    Aeration. Hollow tining, verti-draining or other aeration treatment.
    Fusarium control - in damp weather.
    Worm control - in mild damp conditions.
    Top dressing. The major job (and cost) of the autumn. Essential to maintain and establish top quality courts. Best done whilst growth is still observable. 2-5 tons of dressing per court with additional quantities for low places.
  6. November - January
    Aeration and Top dressing. If not done in October, undertake as early as possible in November. Very urgent before floods and frosts.
    Mowing. As necessary. Winter length.
    Renovation. Turfing should be completed by Christmas if possible.
    Soil slitting - if required when weather permits.
    Moss control - when weather is reasonable if required.


Improving lawn levels

  1. Assuming that a court is reasonably flat and broadly level it is possible to improve the surface level over a period of time by selective top dressing the hollow areas. Most courts, however good, show some degree of surface undulation as a result of settling or subsidence. If hoops are not moved from time to time 'rabbit runs' can become pronounced.
    Local players will know the imperfections and the groundsmen should take note. Flooding shows low areas quite dramatically and if this occurs prior to top dressing the pool boundaries should be marked. A long straight edge - at least 10 to 12 feet will also reveal low spots, but the best method is to have the court surveyed and for elevations to be marked on pegs at 2 metre centres. The most sophisticated way is to use computer-aided design and drafting systems (CAD's). The CA Equipment Committee has access to such a system which may be available for registered clubs to borrow. Printouts are available to illustrate the court contours. Variations in level ± 18mm are capable of correction by selective top dressing.
    More severe variations will take a long time to remedy and consideration should be given to lifting the turf, levelling and returfing. A costly skilled and time-consuming operation.
  2. Top Dressing. This procedure involves the application of bulky screened and sterilised material, usually a mixture of sharp sand and loam, either to the whole area of the court or to selected low areas. The purpose is not to feed the lawn but to level the court and improve the quality of the surface soil. It is the best way of building a true surface, but takes time, money and patience. The best time to dress a court is September/October immediately after hollow tining or verti-draining. It should be applied in reasonably dry conditions whilst the grass is still growing. Apply 2-5 tons per court, or more if there is much surface levelling to do. In the case of significant hollows a second dressing in early spring will accelerate the levelling process. The material can be spread by hand (barrow and shovel) or by fertiliser spreader with a generous spread setting, but the best way is to use a mechanical top dressing spreader, which may be hired. After spreading, the dressing must be worked into the turf with either a drag mat or lute. It is possible for clubs to construct a simple lute from building timber but the best are manufactured from aluminium or steel. The lute scrapes material from high spots, depositing in low spots. The flatter the court the wider the lute needs to be. For very good lawns a 12-foot lute is best, but for lawns being improved a 4 or 6-foot wide one is adequate. Localised dressing of hollows can be adequately levelled using a plank as straight edge, 8-10 foot wide.
  3. Rolling. The heavy roller is often quoted as the easy answer to lawn levelling. Not so. It either follows the contours and compacts the entire court or it so compacts the high spots that they become impervious and hard. This gives poor drainage and makes the lawn much heavier in wet weather. Compaction of soil weakens grass roots, encourages thatch and promotes the growth of weed grasses. The light hand pulled roller (250Kg) is a useful tool if used a couple of times before play starts at Easter. The best, but most expensive is the Trulevel tandem roller which features a number of small rollers on a rigid frame which may be loaded with different weights.
  4. Scarification, or raking, forms an important part of the greenmasters' duties. This work is now done with a powered rotary tined machine, which may be adjusted for depth of penetration. Regular use of this machine lifts horizontal matted and fibrous growth and reduces the thickness of thatch and discourages its development. The machine should be set high for light scarifying in the season and can be used at 4-6 week intervals when growth is rapid. The use of a grass comb on the mower will help surface grooming considerably. After the season has closed, more vigorous deeper scarifying can be undertaken prior to top dressing, which repairs any superficial damage inflicted by the machine. Some machines have interchangeable tines and thinner ones are better for in season use.
  5. Aeration. Forking or mechanical tining to puncture the surface at least to 75 mm allows air to penetrate the turf, but more powerful 'hollow tine' machines are more effective by taking a core of soil out of the turf to a depth of up to 125 mm. Hollow tining must be done in the Autumn but general spiking or forking can be undertaken at any time. A drum spiker is a useful tool for surface pricking. Deeper aeration may be needed on some lawns where subsoil compaction is causing drainage or turf growth problems. On traditional sports fields a sub soiler may be used in winter, but resulting damage may render the lawn unusable for serious croquet for at least a season. The real answer is to use a 'Verti-Drainer'. This machine forces a long probe vertically into the soil profile and injects water or air to ensure that a clear passage is created to a depth of between 3 and 20 inches. "Verti-Draining" is also used to refer to a deep spiking vibrating machine. This operation should be done in autumn or Winter when ground conditions are not too wet. Expensive!
  6. Mowing. Every club needs to invest in a good mower and at least one secondary mower as a backup in the event of breakdown. A serious gap in mower availability could cause untold problems in the club. Buy the best mower the club can afford. A 'bowling green' mower is best. It has a cutting width of 16" to 21" and a cylinder cutter with 10 or 12 blades. These machines will give between 110 and 160 cuts per metre providing a perfect surface for croquet.
    An 8-bladed machine giving 95 cuts per metre provides a good croquet lawn and a 6-bladed machine giving 75-80 cuts per metre is just adequate for an acceptable croquet lawn, Mowers with fewer than 6 blades on the cylinder are inadequate for club lawn maintenance. The best of these machines will maintain a grass length of 2-8mm, but in practice a machine which cuts to a depth of 5mm will maintain a first class croquet court. Larger machines giving cutting widths of between 24" and 36" are generally 6 or 8-bladed and will do a good job if used two or three times a week, and for large areas of turf with at least 3 or 4 courts in a single expanse, a 'sit on' roller mower is an ideal implement. New mowers can cost between £2,000 and £l0,000 (1998 prices). Winter mowing is less frequent, done only when conditions are dry enough and the cylinder should be set at 8-10 mm. Modern mowers are able to be fitted with a comb behind the front roller. This enables horizontal stalks and leaves to be lifted for cutting. Some mowers do this even more effectively with a powered rotary brush. Your lawns will benefit from the most frequent mowing intervals you can afford, but always mow the day before a tournament or match. Mowing pattern should be varied to prevent the turf being encouraged into a pile. Alternate directions of mow at 90° can be alternated with opposite diagonal cuts. It is essential to 'box off' clippings every time the lawn is mown.
  7. Fertiliser and Lime. To encourage finer species of grass and to discourage earthworms the pH of a croquet turf should be slightly acidic. It is therefore quite unlikely that lime will ever need to be applied, but if it is suggested for any reason, you are advised to consult an independent turf specialist (i.e. STRI) before treatment. Fertiliser also needs to be carefully considered if there is enthusiasm in the club for such. The playing quality of the turf is of the utmost importance and fertilisers must be used only in the interests of improving the playing surface. To apply fertiliser to stimulate green growth on a croquet lawn could produce too much grass (more mowing needed), slow down the speed, weaken the turf through 'soft' growth and encourage thatch. Always seek good independent advice before spending money on fertiliser. If it is necessary, use a 'mini pelleted' granular type through a mechanical spreader strictly to the recommended rate and be careful not to 'oversow' or scorching of the turf will occur. Try to apply the stuff before rain, but not when it is raining! Occasionally an Autumn dressing may be needed to provide essential phosphates and potash. Always seek professional advice before action.
  8. Worm cast prevention. Switching with a long flexible rod, traditionally bamboo, but now fibreglass or carbon fibre, is the traditional way of removing overnight worm casts. This action also assists in the prevention of fusarium (a fungus disease) by removing the dew. This has to be done very early every day and is obviously too expensive for all but the richest clubs.
    The modern alternative is to control casting worms by use of a selective wormicide which kills surface casting worms but does not harm worms which do not cast on the lawn. The most common chemicals are Thiophanate-Methyl and Carbendazim. Duration of control is only about 3 months and an application at least at the beginning of every season may be necessary. Every greenmaster should encourage the turf soil to acidity which discourages casting worms. As the pH drops towards 5.5 the spraying will become less necessary. The cheapest way to lower the pH is to apply Calcined Sulphate of Iron at ¼oz (7gm) per sq. yd.
  9. Weed control. Common turf weeds are easily controlled by spray these days. A wide spectrum of herbicides is now available to 'select' certain broad-leaved plants for elimination which do not harm grasses at all.
    The most popular are cocktails of 2,4-D and Mecoprop. Sometimes MCPA or MCPB are used instead of 2,4-D. Most are effective if used strictly according to the manufacturers instructions. These chemicals are called growth regulators. After spraying the weeds appear to grow more vigorously and sometimes twist into new shapes in the burst of growth. This is called epinastic bending. You will know that the treatment will be effective if you observe this. Manual removal of isolated weeds (and their roots) can be done with a sharp knife.
  10. Moss control. Moss can become a nightmare. It is best controlled by good turf culture. Moss is encouraged by low fertility, over acidity and excessively close mowing. The best solution is to diagnose and remove the cause of moss growth. However even on the best-managed courts, moss often persists! The tried and tested remedy is by applying lawn sand in the Spring of each year. The sand itself has no effect but merely 'carries' sulphate of iron which is an effective moss killer. Sometimes Sulphate of Ammonia is added to 'green up' the turf. Apply at 4oz per square yard (140gm per square metre). Modem chemicals can be sprayed to kill moss include Dichlorophen and Phenol.
  11. Insect pests. Leatherjackets (Daddy Longlegs larvae) Cockchafers (white fat juicy grubs), fruit fly and wireworms can cause damage when present in large colonies. They are controllable by pesticides. Thiophanate-Methyl, and Gamma-HCH being most effective. Professional advice must be sought before applying these chemicals.
  12. Turf diseases. Fungal diseases are the most common, causing damage, dying patches or unsightly configurations in fine turf. No club should attempt to diagnose and cure without expert opinion. The most common outbreaks are:-
    • Fusarium Patch. Occurs at any time of year, appearing as small brown or orange spots which grow in size and number, leaving the grass dead. Favoured by high humidity and moist turf. Lime and Nitrogen applications favour the disease. Can be controlled by spraying systemic fungicide such as Carbendazim, Benomyl, nyophanate-Methyl or Thiabendazole.
    • Red Thread. Very Common. Damaged grass has red or pink appearance. Fungicides listed above are effective.
    • Dollar Spot. Patches of dead grass in spots 50mm in diameter. Dead grass is dry and bleached. Fungicides listed above are effective.
    • Fairy Rings. Four types of Fairy Rings are quite common on croquet lawns. Some result in severe damage by killing the turf in a ring others merely suppress growth and do no lasting damage but all forms usually result in fruiting bodies (or 'mushrooms') towards the end of the season, threatening spread across the lawn or to adjacent lawns. Control is difficult as only two types respond to sprayed fungicide. If rings become a damaging nuisance professional advice is needed.
    Spraying Ferrous Sulphate has been found to be effective for prevention of fungal attack and moss control.
  13. Warning about Spraying. DIY spraying of Agrochemicals can be dangerous and may be illegal depending on the chemical formulation. Obviously DIY is cheaper for clubs but each club must have a trained and qualified operative. Only he or she is then authorised to spray. This is the Law of the Land encapsulated in a number of Acts from 1974 to 1995. Training is available from the Agricultural Training Board or your local Agricultural College, as short courses, sufficient for you to pass a Proficiency Test. Otherwise hire an authorised contractor to do this work.
    If DIY spraying is done, the operator MUST wear gloves, goggles and mask and a protective overall which can be washed or destroyed after spraying. A warning notice should be provided at the courts after spraying to warn players to wash their hands immediately after playing and never to lick the ball or any equipment used on the lawn.
  14. Conclusion. The construction and maintenance of Croquet Lawns demands knowledge, good equipment and adequate funds but most important is tender loving care of dedicated and enthusiastic members. We hope that this booklet will encourage and stimulate clubs to make and maintain the very best lawns possible


Surveying Court Levels

The Equipment Committee of the CA has a set of equipment for the surveying of court levels which is available to clubs for hire (£30 in 1998-9). It is stored under the care of Alan Pidcock in Preston; during the season it is likely to be possible to arrange transportation through the tournament circuit.

The equipment comprises a laser device (photograph on p7 of Issue 256 of the Gazette), a surveyor's tripod, a 100 ft glass fibre reinforced tape measure, a mounted metre rule, and an 'offset bar' a device for facilitating detailed measurements of levels along boundaries etc.

The Robolaser is a battery operated self-levelling device that emits a laser beam that is horizontal to within a quarter of an inch in 100 ft. The beam can be detected at a distance of 150 ft (especially on a dull day) and it can be steered quickly onto a target from the target end of the beam, if required, by means of a radio controller.

The laser can be sited on or off the court. If measurements are made at the intersections of a 1 yd grid, over 1000 readings are required for a full court and a team of 3 or 4 persons is recommended. Some suggestions about procedures are available with the equipment.

Since slopes proximate to boundaries are of special concern, a device (the 'offset bar') is available to enable readings of level to be taken at close intervals over an area 2 yd wide along a boundary. Levels are first read along a line parallel to the boundary using the Robolaser and then the offset bar is used to read off levels rapidly at say 6 inch intervals at right angles to the boundary.

From these readings a detailed contour map of the boundary area can be constructed. The offset bar can also be used for detailed measurements around hoop positions.

It is perhaps important to note that a contour map is only as good as its co-ordinates, which should, therefore, have some means of accurate reference to permanent structures around the court.

Author: Ian Plummer
All rights reserved © 1999

Updated 28.i.16
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