Irrigation expertise

Irrigation expertise benefits Hurlingham Club

With some 42 acres of the finest landscaped grounds and award winning sports surfaces to manage, the Hurlingham Club’s Grounds and Gardens team is dedicated to sustainable horticultural practice. In carrying out their meticulous management and maintenance programmes, the team has worked closely for some 20 years with Andre Holt of Holts Irrigation, the East Sussex based specialists in sports turf, commercial and residential irrigation.

The iconic, diverse natural landscapes of the Hurlingham Club include sensitive historic areas, ornamental lawns and paths, hedging, herbaceous and mixed borders, rose beds, lakeside and wet area planting adjacent to the Thames. World leading sports turf facilities are in use through the year including grass tennis courts for members and showcase courts for pre-Wimbledon and other classic events. There are well manicured croquet lawns, finely preserved bowling greens, a cricket pitch and a 9-hole winter golf course.

Conserving water 

Neil Harvey, Head of Grounds & Gardens, Deputy Head Tom Clarke and Head Gardener Aby Parrott lead a 26 member full time team. Eco-friendly horticultural practice is well established and includes the use of battery powered equipment and machinery, soil management through composting and mulching, green waste compacting and recycling management, generation of bio-fuels, rainwater harvesting, elimination of chemical pesticides, the use of bio-degradable materials and the eradication of single use plastics. Conserving water throughout the extensive irrigation regime is a key component of this approach.

The two-acre lake is the water source and its quality is maintained by sophisticated lake aeration and filtration systems. At the heart of the irrigation management is a central computerised control system which enables the Ground and Gardens team to program, adjust and monitor watering schedules for different areas. To optimise water usage and prevent evaporation during daylight hours, irrigation is applied overnight.

There are some 270+ fixed sprinkler heads used for sports turf and landscape irrigation throughout the estate. Andre Holt has recommended and installed Rain Bird 950, 750, 8000 and 5000 Series Rotors with MPR matched precipitation nozzles across all the different areas. The show tennis court and croquet lawns were fitted ten years ago, the golf course rotors some 12 years ago and other surfaces in the intervening years. They bear testimony to the reliability and durability of Rain Bird technology.

Drip irrigation 

There is now a concerted move towards the benefits of drip irrigation. The Gardens Team favours Dripline for its low pressure, precisely directed irrigation whereby water is applied slowly and directly to the root zones of plants in well mulched areas. It is delivered throughout the day, matched to the soil’s infiltration rate so that wastage through run-off, wind drift and evaporation is eliminated. The risk of damage to delicate plants such as roses, which can be caused by misdirected spraying, is also no longer a risk.

Some two kilometres of Rain Bird’s low water volume surface XFS Dripline now features across the estate, both in new areas and to replace spray irrigation, with installation being rolled out by Holts Irrigation. This sensitive dell that surrounds the historic ice house, featuring curved flower beds and contoured landscaping, is one of the latest areas to benefit. “ Dripline unobtrusively ensures the necessary hydration with minimal environmental impact. It also has a number of advantages including simple layout, pressure reducing emitters that regulate water flow as well as a good range of lock type compression fittings,” says Andre Holt.

Dripline operatation

Rain Bird’s TBOS II BT Bluetooth battery operated controllers are used in conjunction with Dripline  in many areas of the estate where mains power for irrigation controllers would be too costly or impractical to install. The controllers are have long life batteries, are highly durable with IP68 rating. Bluetooth allows Aby and the team to use smartphones with the dedicated Rain Bird App to pair with the controllers. Watering schedules can be configured, usually for two hours per day in the summer, and performance monitored. Features such as sequential start times, seasonal adjustment and rain delay programming all promote close control over water consumption.

With Dripline operating during daylight hours under separate TBOS II control, the onus of taking additional time for irrigation scheduling through the central computer is removed. To further improve efficiency, a weather station and soil moisture sensors are used so that irrigation schedules can be fine-tuned based on actual weather forecasts and soil conditions to prevent overwatering and unnecessary usage.

Andre is considered a full member of the Grounds and Gardens team. His service contract, product knowledge and installation expertise, coupled with his understanding of the sustainability values of the Hurlingham Club, are invaluable. From reconditioning the booster pump set for the irrigation system, to replacing and repairing sprinkler heads, pump servicing and proposing aeration systems, his support will continue to make a significant contribution to the club’s environmentally friendly horticultural practice.

“ We place a strong emphasis on regular maintenance of the irrigation infrastructure, as well as continuous assessment of new water saving opportunities.  We can cover the quick fixes, but Andre Holt’s experience and service will continue to be indispensable,” says Tom Clarke.


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