The seeding process was finished at the end of last week after County Turf’s HERO Hybrid Grass was laid down and infilled with a rootzone sand mix up to 40mm.
Work has already started on growing grass through and alongside the new mesh-like grid, creating a top-class playing surface at the stadium that will be 95 per cent natural grass compared to five per cent polyethylene artificial fibres once fully grown and cut.
Bristol Sport Group Grounds Manager Dan Sparks said: “It’s been going really well. We have put down the rootzone layer, on top of that we’ve rolled out the carpet and then it’s been a slow process of infiltrating the sand in between the artificial fibres on the carpet.
“It’s the same principal as the old Desso hybrid product, the artificial fibres are there to provide reinforcement in the sand pitch and then the grass binds to it and grows up through it, and that’s very similar to this HERO product that we have now. The real grass similarly binds to it, just instead of retrospectively stitching in the fibres afterwards we roll out the carpet with the fibres already sown in and then grow the grass up through that.
“The next stage was the seeding and hopefully we’ll see some grass showing in about ten days’ time. We’ll be cutting it a couple of days after that, keeping on top of the growth.
“The minute the seed was in the ground, it’s back to us [the ground staff] and we bring that back in house. The contractors will finish off on the artificial turf surrounding the pitch and we’ll focus on growing the pitch, cutting and fertilizing accordingly.”
The new surface, which is the same as the one installed at the Bears High Performance Centre, is being installed ready for Bristol City’s opening home game of the Sky Bet Championship season against Preston North End on August 5th.
One of the major hurdles when installing a new pitch is the weather but Sparks added that the sunny, hot conditions and minimal rainfall have worked in their favour so far.
“The majority of the rain we’ve had has come overnight and in the evening which has sometimes caused an early end to the day as the sand needs to be really dry to brush in and be manipulated like we need it to,” Sparks said.
“In the morning we’ve had to wait for the sun to come up and dry the sand before we can work it again so there’s been a few hours of rain delay but so far, it’s been plain sailing.
“The artificial surrounds will go in over the next two weeks now the seed is in the ground. The priority of everyone has been to get the seed in and the pitch prepared first, because that six-week window before we can first use it is ever so important.”