Do you need a solution to fix a waterlogged pitch?

Waterlogged sports pitches can present a challenge for players, coaches, and groundskeepers alike. Excessive water not only renders the field unusable but also poses risks of personal injury and long-term damage to the sports field turf. With the right approach and timely action, it's possible to fully restore a waterlogged pitch to its optimal playing condition.

However, before taking action, it's crucial to assess the extent of the damage across the entire pitch. By evaluating the severity of waterlogging, the type of soil, and the pitch's level and runoff, quick-fix solutions and more extensive remedies can be considered. It's also important to investigate if the pitch already has a poorly performing drainage system in place, which may need reviewing.

Understanding all these factors in detail will help in developing an appropriate strategy for pitch restoration.

2023/2024 Winter weather causes waterlogged pitches

To ensure you can prevent a waterlogged pitch in the future, it is important to understand the recent rainfall levels and assess the predictions for the coming years.

Over the winter months of 2023 and into the beginning of 2024, actual rainfall was significantly higher than the long-term average1.

Month Long Term Average Actual Rainfall
October 2023 52.6mm 189.48mm
November 2023 96.1mm 156.74mm
December 2023 89.1mm 131.07mm
January 2024 49.5mm 66.2mm

With the excessive rainfall, it naturally led to significant issues with waterlogging on sports pitches across the country. Such a sustained downpour on already saturated ground was a disaster waiting to happen for many. 

Predicting the weather accurately over the winter months of 2024 is challenging. However, if the winter of 2023/2024 is anything to go by, there may be more waterlogged pitches requiring repair or have preventative measures in place, prior to the winter season

Reasons for a waterlogged pitch 

There could be a wide range of reasons that your sports pitch could regularly become waterlogged. 

Heavy Rainfall: Persistent or heavy rainfall, as we have seen over the winter of 2023/2024, can saturate the ground, leading to waterlogging. If the rain continues, the ground may not have enough time to drain properly.

Poor Drainage: Inadequate drainage systems can prevent water from properly draining away from the pitch, resulting in waterlogging.

Compact Soil: Soil compaction reduces the soil's ability to absorb water, leading to surface runoff and waterlogging.

Low-lying Areas: If your pitch is situated in a low-lying area or a basin, water can collect and accumulate more easily, causing waterlogging of the pitch.

Saturated Ground (Water Table): Even without rainfall, if the water table is high or if the ground is already saturated from previous rainfall, any additional water may lead to waterlogging.

Poor Pitch Construction: Inadequate construction or maintenance of the pitch, such as incorrect slope or insufficient surface grading, can contribute to waterlogging issues.

Poor Pitch Design: A poorly designed pitch may not have considered proper drainage mechanisms, leading to waterlogging during rain events.

Fixing a waterlogged pitch

There is an important process to go through to fix a waterlogged pitch. Below highlights our detailed approach to repairing a waterlogged pitch. Following your initial enquiry, we will visit your pitch as soon as possible to assess the ground while the water is still present. If it's left for 2-3 days, then it is more difficult to see the full issue.

If we can assess the grounds while water is still on the surface, it will help determine where the water is coming from, for example, heavy rainfall, surrounding areas, or even blocked drains.

Following this assessment, we can then determine the need for primary and/or secondary drainage but also consider the options if there would be a quick fix to return the ground to a playable condition.

Verti-draining a sports field is a quick way to assist with waterlogging, although not the operation’s primary function, it does help alleviate the issue.

If an existing pitch drainage system is not present, we will advise on the best drainage options available to you and undertake a levels survey to determine the topography of the pitch and the surrounding area. This then enables us to plan where primary drainage would run if it were to be installed.

If required, we can also install secondary drainage in the form of sand or gravel banding.

It is worth noting that some of the drainage required to run off into watercourses or storm drains requires permission from either the Environment Agency or the local water board respectively.

An additional element to consider is that water can also be directed to a purpose-built soakaway to hold the water and let it drain freely into the subsoil.

We fully understand that, in some cases, pitch drainage may not be a viable option due to costs. In these cases, we can also advise on other courses of action to try to redirect any surface water coming from around the pitch areas. This could be in the form of swale gullies or culverts to move the water away from the pitch.

In every example of waterlogging, we know that there isn't a single solution that fits all. So, each issue is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Options for fixing a waterlogged pitch

Option 1 – Waterlogging quick fix for the short term

If you need to fix a waterlogged pitch quickly in order to maintain use until the end of the season, then there are a couple of quick fix solutions that will help. 

We can remove all the standing excess water by using our Verti-draining system. It is worth remembering that the sooner you can eliminate excess water, the better chance you have of salvaging the pitch.

An alternative to Verti-draining is Slitting. This system, similarly to Verti-draining, provides short term pitch drainage solution.

Option 2 – Complete pitch drainage system

A professionally installed drainage system, perfectly matched to your pitch issues, can help to reduce the need for extensive maintenance and repair work due to water-related damage. In addition, this drainage system installation can help to save you money on labour, materials, and downtime required for pitch maintenance in the future.

We can install different types of drainage systems dependent on your specific requirements, these include:

  • Sand-Based Systems
  • Gravel-Based Systems
  • Perforated Pipe Systems
  • French Drains
  • Subsurface Drainage Systems
  • Surface Drainage Systems

Option 3 – Completely new pitch construction

We have been constructing Natural Sports Fields for over 10 years. We only employ the very latest techniques and machinery to ensure the highest quality results.

We understand how important it is to accurately plan and design the surface, surrounding areas and drainage systems to fully match your long-term requirements. We discuss these plans and designs with you from the start to ensure every characteristic will be included into the final construction.

Preventive measures to help avoid waterlogging:

Prevention is better than cure, so there are a number of steps that can be taken to help prevent the worst water damage. 

Improve Drainage:

If at all possible, it will help to upgrade the drainage systems or install additional drainage, if necessary, to prevent waterlogging in the future. It is important to regularly maintain the drainage system to prevent blockages and ensure proper function.

Proper Pitch Maintenance:

Establishing a regular and comprehensive maintenance schedule will help to maintain the standards of the playing surface. These should include mowing, fertilising, and aerating, to keep the pitch in optimal condition year-round. 

Here at SHERRIFF, our team is highly skilled and experienced in helping to repair and restore waterlogged pitches to future-proof your pitch for the years to come. 

Call 01727 640270 or email to discuss a solution for your pitch.

Sources 1:

Sports Field Construction

  • Experts in Sports Field Drainage
  • Sports Field Maintenance
  • Sports Field Renovation


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