The summer concert series is over, the covers are off and work is already underway preparing the famous Wembley turf for the Community Shield on 11 August. Head Groundsman Tony Stones explains exactly how his team bring the pitch back to life.
Tell us more about the covering used during concert season...
The cover that is used is called Terraplas. There are two types that we use, one is for the public to stand on and the other is for the stage and trucks to drive on - they are both made from plastic. The public cover is translucent keeping the grass alive for a short-term covering. The heavy cover kills all the grass that it sits on.
What damage does concert season cause to the pitch?
With just the public cover down we don’t suffer that much damage. The pitch would be back playable in a couple of weeks. For the concert season that we have just had with the cover down for five weeks, we spray the grass off to kill it prior to the cover being laid as this speeds up the renovation process.
What does the pitch look like as soon as it is uncovered?
After the five weeks, the pitch is dead and a bit smelly. This year we have been lucky with the weather being dry as sometimes when the cover comes off, it’s wet and muddy.
What do you need to do to get the pitch back to pristine condition and how long does it take?
The first job is to remove all of the dead matter from the pitch to give us a clean seed bed - we do this by using a Koro field top marker. We then over-seed using a dimple seeder. The pitch is then covered with a sheet to speed germination. This will take around ten days and the cover is then removed. The next process is mowing the stripes back in. The pitch will be back to 100% in around four weeks from the cover coming off.
Are you using any new technology on the pitch this season?
We are using some new lighting rigs that pump CO2 into a covered area. This has helped speed post-game recovery in high use areas.