If you watch top-level field hockey matches on TV, you've probably noticed that most professional games are played on artificial turf pitches. However, while artificial turf can make for a faster-paced game of hockey, it is also expensive, difficult to maintain and unforgiving if a player takes a tumble.
As such, if you're building a new public sports complex or setting up an amateur or semi-pro field hockey team, then traditional, living grass turf is still the way to go. A variety of turf types and grass species can be used to create field hockey pitches, but kikuyu turf is probably the most widely used—and for good reason. Here are just some of the advantages of kikuyu turf that make it an excellent choice for creating hockey pitches:
It can be tempting to start playing on a turf hockey pitch while it's still freshly laid, but any turf needs time to establish itself and send roots into the soil before it can be safely used -- jumping the gun can lead to significant and expensive turf damage. Kikuyu turf establishes itself extremely quickly in both warm and cool conditions, with its roots growing up to an inch every 24 hours, so a kikuyu hockey pitch should be usable after just a few days.
Tough as nails
Kikuyu grass is one of the most durable turf grasses out there and can take a tremendous amount of punishment without wilting, yellowing or leaving unsightly patches of bare earth. The leaves of kikuyu grass tend to weave themselves together, forming a durable 'mat' that protects both the grass and the delicate topsoil beneath.
If your kikuyu hockey pitch does sustain significant damage, you can rest assured that the pitch will repair itself quickly, often without any human intervention. Individual blades of kikuyu grass send out seeds and suckers to any nearby patches of bare earth, so gouges and divots in the pitch will usually be filled with new grass in a matter of days.
Grows (almost) anywhere
Kikuyu turf is also renowned for its versatility, and a kikuyu hockey pitch can be successfully laid on most types of soil. Kikuyu can tolerate high soil salinity, poor drainage and low nitrogen levels without dying or turning yellow, and it is particularly prized for its exceptional resistance to droughts, making it a perfect turf for hotter, inland parts of the country.
Kikuyu's aggressive growth and adaptability allows it to compete with weeds on their own terms, and common weeds will have a difficult time growing on a well-laid kikuyu pitch. Applying standard weedkillers to your pitch a few times a year is usually enough to keep a kikuyu field hockey pitch completely weed-free.