Overcoming saline water and a coastal location, Mandurah, south of Perth, is now home to a spectacular two hectare community and sports area of Village Green turf after a rapid transformation this year, which saw bushland and a bedraggled school oval turned into an active open green space within three months.

Mandurah, south of Perth, used to have a school oval that struggled to stay green with a lack of suitable water and a burgeoning community that was desperate for public open space.

But in October 2015 all that changed when, in the space of just over a week, a massive construction site was transformed into active and passive play areas with almost 25,000 square metres of Village Green turf. The new Ocean Road Active Reserve was officially opened in early November 2015 and is the result of a three month complete transformation of a dilapidated school oval watered with saline water and bushland by the Mandurah City Council.

L to R: Hon Dr Kim Hames, Ocean Road Primary School Head Girl Sarah Smith, Principal Dean Finlay, and Mandurah Mayor Marina Vergone.

The two hectare area is an excellent example of the value of green space to communities and advances in water-use efficiencies. It serves as a community open space, sporting fields, and a school oval for the adjoining Ocean Road Primary School. Mandurah City Council overcame the high-salinity ground water and narrow coastal area challenges by utilising the nearby Caddadup Waste Water Treatment Plant. The irrigation system uses water from the plant that has been treated and filtered through the soil into a subsurface aquifer and extracted via bores and pumped into storage tanks for re-use on the

The site was completely cleared during the three month construction phase of the project and the top soil completely revitalised and turfed with the more suitable Village Green kikuyu turf.

The existing reserve had a total of 16,200 tonnes of the top soil removed and cleaned for reuse, while the base was levelled and lowered, and an additional 2000 tonnes of clean fill brought into the site. The soil amendment Terracottem was added to the top soil at a rate of 180 grams per square metre and incorporated to a depth of 200 millimetres to stabilise the sandy base.

Sports Turf Technology was engaged to oversee the site development process to ensure a solid foundation for the turf was laid, and is undertaking ongoing monitoring of the site.

“Terracottem is a soil stabiliser with polymers mixed in to help with water retention and encouraging deep root growth. It is particularly useful on a site like this one so close to the ocean with a sand base,” Sports turf Technology’s Ken Johnston said.

Sports Turf Technology advised to mix the excellent quality of the bushland sand with the existing sports field sand to create mix to encourage good establishment of the Village Green turf.

“The bushland soil had an ideal pH as it was a silica sand and the particle size distribution combined well with the existing soil from the sports field,” Ken said.

The mix of existing sands and clean fill ensured a mix of particle size of 55 per cent medium sand (grains measuring 0.25-0.5 millimetres in size) and the balance equal parts of finer sand (less than 0.25mm) and coarser (0.5-1.0mm) sands.

Mandurah City Council said the Village Green kikuyu turf was chosen as the best species of grass to use on the active reserve, due to its sustainability for high usage by school children, sporting groups and the wider community. The quality of the grass needed to be high, and to minimise contamination, and as such
Village Green was chosen because it is a short internode length type of Kikuyu.

Village Green also has excellent frost and drought tolerance and is a warm season turf which keeps good colour all year and grows through winter.
For turf suppliers, Greenacres Turf, laying an area that size in a location near the ocean had unique challenges.

“Wind was a big factor for drying up the top surface of sand before laying, so the irrigation was on a syringe cycle frequently to keep the surface moist,” Greenacres’ Adrian Pitsikas said.

Incredibly, the 23,815m2 of turf was laid in just eight days with a nine man team from Greenacres working nine hour days to complete the job quickly.

“We had one man levelling the area, two laying turf with a specialised laying machine to handle the Jumbo Lay and Play rolls, three men matching in turf and four others driving the semi-trailers who delivered 32 loads of turf to the site.

The Jumbo Lay and Play rolls – measuring 22m² each – have a deeper cut than traditional turf rolls to allow more of the root base to be transplanted with the turf and means the grass settles quicker.

The larger rolls were chosen for the speed in which they could be laid and the ability to cover a large area quickly. Along with the quicker establishment onsite, this allowed for immediate play on the area.

Since its installation, the feedback on the surface to Mandurah City Council has been overwhelmingly positive from the adjoining schools, the community and the two main sporting clubs who use the reserve, the South Mandurah Little Athletics Club and South Mandurah Cricket Club.

“The turf is just amazing,” Andrew Tarrant, president of the South Mandurah Little Athletics Club, said. “The surface is flat and feels good underfoot, and the kids love it.” Now it has been laid, the maintenance of the area has begun at two sites on the reserve with equipment installed to assess the turf and soil health along with water usage and nutrient leaching through the soil profile.

Assessment and recommendations of this monitoring is being conducted by Sports Turf Technology. The monitoring sites are within the active spaces which have had the soil amendment Terracottem added and in the immediately adjacent unamended areas.

“There is one lysimeter in each of the amended and unamended areas at 400 millimetres below the surface. The lysimeters measure the volume of water passing through the soil and the nutrients in the water that has leached through the profile,” Ken said.

“There are also Hornet soil moisture probes installed near each lysimeter. These probes measure soil moisture content and the data is uploaded to a website, which the City of Mandurah and I can view.”

The actively used areas of the turf reserve are watered four times a week, while the passive areas are watered three times a week by an overhead rotor sprinkler system, using 36,000 kilolitres of water annually.

Mowing of the reserve will be weekly and turf will be kept at a height of 20mm. Mowing heights of the turf and root depth will also be monitored at monthly intervals by Sports Turf Technology with large scale plant nutrition and soil health testing being undertaken by Mandurah City Council four times a year.

The project was completed by Mandurah City Council with the financial assistance of the State Government’s Royalties for Regions 2013-14 Regional Grants Scheme, the Peel Development Commission and contributions from the Department of Education and Saint Damien’s Catholic Primary School.

For more information, call us on +61 402 816 735 or email us on charmain@villagegreenturf.com.au. Or if you already have a project in mind, request a quote today!