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The complex completion of Lancaster Park

Turf construction and grow-in can be challenging at the best of times, especially if the turf in question is on the historic Lancaster Park in Christchurch. Carrying out this project proved to be a massive job, but one Readylawn Managing Director Roger Morgan says the team can look back on with pride

The Lancaster Park stadium, previously known as Jade Stadium and AMI Stadium and host to countless sporting events and concerts over the years, was damaged beyond repair in the Christchurch earthquakes and demolished. The Christchurch City Council decided to rebuild a stadium elsewhere in the city, and turn Lancaster Park into a green recreational space and community sports fields, which can be used for sports such as rugby and football in the winter and cricket in the summer. This reflects a long-standing arrangement that its only use was to be for community fields, preventing it from being sold for housing or commercial use.

To turn the park back into something vibrant, Taggart Civil was selected as the lead contractor on this design-build contract. This meant improving contouring and drainage, which required approximately 50,000m3 of river gravel to recontour the site and provide a drainage profile.

Readylawn was contracted to install 3.5ha of popup irrigation in sand-lined trenches, put down 4km of piping and cover all the infrastructure ready for topsoil.

A pump shed was also installed to boost water pressure to the irrigation system.

A massive undertaking

Readylawn managing director Roger Morgan says it was a huge operation - 17,000m3 of topsoil was imported and contoured, and it took more than 700 truck and trailer loads before it was all on the ground!

“Next, 320m3 of compost needed to be spread over the 3ha sports fields at 10mm before installing the rugby post infrastructure and a five-wicket, clay cricket block in the centre of the field,” says Morgan.

The Readylawn team cultivated and prepared the seed bed and drilled a turf ryegrass blend on the three main sports fields, as well as an amenity rye/fescue/browntop blend on the surrounding areas. As the soil prep was completed, seed was sown in stages – with K lines utilised

for germination.

Just under 4ha of the grow in were by K line and travelling irrigation, which was time consuming given the dry summer.

Readylawn’s maintenance contract has been extended to ensure the field looks its best at the grand opening in April.

“The field is regularly fertilised with a slow release fertiliser from PGG Wrightson Turf as well as agricultural fertilisers from Balance and Ravensdown, as the topsoil needs some extra nutrients after being stockpiled,” explains Roger. “Mowing is done by seven set reel gang mowers to provide the best finish.”

A job well done!

Before the project was wrapped, Roger says there was one more job to be done.

“Our contract stated that no stones or debris were allowed to be in the soil. However, it was impractical to screen 17000m3 topsoil, so a number of techniques were employed to ensure the surface was clean of any debris. A final hand pick of the entire 67000m2 ensured the surface was spotless.

“It was a big project, but the team did an outstanding job. We completed the grass installation to an excellent standard, on time and under budget with no lost time to injury or health and safety issues!”

The Christchurch City Council is refining the final landscape plan for future park development and will look to include car parks, toilet amenities, practice cricket nets, basketball and BBQ areas, a perimeter path, landscape planting, perimeter chain/bollard fencing and a remediated heritage gates on Stevens Street.

“Once completed it will be outstanding,” says Morgan, “and we’ll be proud to say we’ve played our part.”

New Learnings

Big projects take longer to do and cost more than anticipated.

Grow in and maintenance periods on large projects are almost more important than the construction phase and are the periods most likely to cost the contractor money.

Always resource the maintenance period properly. A long defects list can be daunting, especially if you’ve under-priced your maintenance period - which can last up to 12 months (or longer, if hand-over standards aren’t reached).

Roger Morgan is managing director of Readylawn Industries in Christchurch, which provides turf, landscape contracting services, synthetic and sportsfield construction, and maintenance services. The Readylawn system is franchised with farms around New Zealand.

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