The green lawn is the same obligatory and familiar part of the stadium as the stands and the backlight. Few people know that maintaining it is the daily work of a large number of employees. Life around visited the Petrovsky arena shortly before the match, talked to the chief agronomist Natalya Belikova and learned how to make the lawn evergreen.
With the onset of autumn, a stressful time begins for a team of agronomists. To keep the grass green, the weather has to be resisted daily. "We are fooling nature, think for yourself, the grass is not a tree, it is not supposed to be green in winter, and we have summer all year round," Natalya says. In fact, the most ordinary plants make you believe that the warm season has not ended. They do this with the help of light and heat: the sun is replaced with special lamps, which necessarily illuminate the lawn 12 hours a day. And special pipes located under the football field maintain soil temperature at the level of 10-15 degrees. But when -25 on the street, no ultra-modern technology helps, the grass has to be warmed up almost manually: to melt the ice on the field and prevent the formation of snowdrifts. In the context, a football lawn resembles a layer cake: grass, below - sand and gravel, even lower - heating pipes, the basis is a drainage system. Excess water, so that there is no puddles, is removed through special drains outside the stadium.
Enemies of the agronomist
“Hear bird cries? We have such a zoo here every day,” when there are no games or concerts at the stadium, the cries of birds of prey in the recording sound from the speakers. Such sounds should drive away pigeons from the field, which in flocks flock to the lawn after sowing new grass. True, now this measure has stopped working: before the pigeons were afraid of frightening signals, but they got used to it over time and realized that they would not become prey to the hawk. Stadium workers have to run around the field screaming and clapping themselves. Agronomists joke that such physical activity saves from frost.
Abroad, people involved in sports lawns are called greenkeepers (from the English greenkeeper - literally "keeper of the grass"). They are taught to look after golf, rugby and football courses in highly specialized colleges. There are no such educational institutions in Russia, and landscape designers usually go to work in stadiums. True, they have to show their basic skills infrequently: the type of lawn and grass height are strictly regulated by FIFA, not higher than three and a half centimeters. At Petrovsky, at the request of Spaletti, the height of the lawn is two and a half. Cut the football field three times a week.
Stripes on the field - traces from special lawn mowers. It is customary to crush grass in a different direction. This is not only visual diversity - such a drawing helps the judges more accurately determine the position of the ball on the field.
Chief agronomist of the stadium "Petrovsky"
It is no easier to look after a football pitch than a rose garden. We are dealing somehow with what to do ... it’s possible for a footballer not to score a penalty, referring to a case, this is inadmissible in our work: ice, frost - everything is against you, and the grass should be green. Well, imagine, you worked all day, almost every blade of grass was grown with your own hands, and they go out onto the lawn with iron spikes on the soles, and all your work is worthless!
Games and Concerts
The field requires special attention before the game. Sometimes employees even have to spend the night on Petrovsky in order to water grass and fertilize a few hours before the match. Agronomists prefer not to watch the game itself: it is too nervous for them. After football competitions, the lawn resembles a plowed field, and it takes about two weeks to restore the lawn. Employees manually sow bald spots that remained from the boots. The performance of Red Hot Chili Peppers last summer agronomists recall with horror. After several thousand people jumped on the lawn, the field had to be restored from scratch.
Natalia Belikova: “A few days after this concert there was a match. The players then approached and complained - they say, there are only goats to graze on such a field. It offended us very much. How do you explain to them that we did everything possible? Sometimes you want to drop everything and go to grow roses in my pleasure ... well, who will be involved in the field then? "
Photos: Egor Rogalev