© Ella Ling

Wimbledon image

How to have a lawn like Centre Court


Wimbledon head groundsman Eddie Seward on how to prepare your grass court:

Work on the grass the whole year round
“This is what we do. We cut it throughout the year. Many people make the mistake in September of letting out a big sigh of relief, and putting the mower in the shed for another year, and thinking that they don’t need to cut their lawn again until the spring. Whereas if you cut the lawn regularly, that really helps.”

Get some air into the court
“This is very important, as that allows the roots to develop in the autumn. We punch holes.”

Check the compatibility of the soil
“You’re going to top-dress the court with soil, and you should check that it’s compatible with what’s already there. Normally, you can do that with analysis, to make sure that it’s the same sort of soil all the way through.”

Scarify the lawn in the autumn
“This is one thing that people often don’t do – they think that it’s going to cause a big mess. They are then making a bigger problem for themselves, as they are getting a lot of thatch, and the court becomes very soft and spongey and therefore the ball won’t bounce very much. That’s a common problem.”

Keep foxes and pigeons away from the lawn
“Urban foxes can be a real problem for your court. If a vixen gets on to the court and urinates, that kills the grass and kills the soil. Pigeons and other birds can also be a problem as they will eat the seeds, and the sulphur in their droppings will burn the grass a little bit. The ammonia in the droppings can also make your courts look like they have measles. At Wimbledon, we fly a hawk three times a week, which keeps pigeons away.”