Sports Pitch Design & Construction

The derelict and overgrown land adjacent to The Cardinal Wiseman School in Middlesex was, despite its good size and close proximity to the school, not an ideal candidate for transformation into a top class sports pitch. In addition to undulating levels and difficult access through the nearby bus depot, the field was infested with Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed.

Japanese Knotweed is an invasive, noxious plant – known as ‘pig weed’ in Japan for good reason – spreads quickly, grows strongly, and can be very difficult to eradicate. Indeed, it is so pernicious that it can penetrate brickwork and destroy buildings, and is therefore subject to strict regulations on its transport. Giant Hogweed, meanwhile, is highly allergenic, and has toxic sap that can cause burns and blisters. However, The Cardinal Wiseman school was impressed not only with Turfdry’s design for the pitch, but also their track record of delivering projects even in difficult circumstances, and trusted that they would once again deliver first rate sports facilities.

After careful consideration of the options, the Knotweed and surrounding material was excavated and transported to a fenced off region of the site where it was eradicated using a specialist herbicide. Meanwhile, the Hogweed was destroyed in situ through further herbicide application.

In addition to the difficulties posed by these aggressive plants, the site was also subject to environmental concerns stemming from a population of slow-worms, which are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. As such, the advice of professional ecologists had been sought, who performed an extensive survey to assess the likely impact of construction work on the wildlife’s habitat, and outlined a methodology for the mitigation of any potential harm to these protected reptiles.

The earthworks phase of the project was complicated by the tension between the need to limit any excavation on site to 300mm – due to the site’s unclear history – and the minimum gradients set for pitches by ‘Sport England’, which are designed to assist surface water run-off and prevent waterlogging. This was overcome through the importing of a significant volume of additional topsoil, which was graded using a CAT D5 laser-controlled blade machine connected to sophisticated 3D land re-modelling software to achieve optimal levels for sports turf.

A Turfdry Drainage System with Hydraway Sportsdrain at 4-metre centres was installed through the excavation of extensive trenches and backfilling with pipes and drainage aggregate. A ‘Rain Train’ irrigation system was also installed, to help maintain a high standard of play surface even under drought conditions.

Finally, the area was fenced and the pitch was turfed, rather than seeded, to comply with the school’s desire to get it into use as soon as possible. Despite the challenges, this project has been another unqualified success, and Turfdry have delivered a pitch worthy of the school’s location – within the view of the Wembley Arch.


Project Summary

Services Provided by Turfdry

  • Pitch Survey
  • Site Clearance
  • Pitch Design & Construction
  • Drainage Design & Installation
  • Irrigation System Installation
  • Pitch Turfing
  • Drainage Design


The Cardinal Wiseman School



Cardinal Wiseman School
Greenford Road