Cultivating the Perfect Arena: A Glimpse into the Care of Longines Tops International Arena's Lush Grass Arena

March 22, 2024

If you've strolled through Longines Tops International Arena, you've undoubtedly marveled at its expansive 125 x 83 m grass arena. But behind this spectacle stands Ruud Tilburgs, the man at the helm of this emerald expanse. We delved into the secrets of his green kingdom, discovering the meticulous care that nurtures this world-famous arena.

Do you require specific grass varieties for the ultimate grass arena? How do you decide?

We have several grass species which are specially mixed for us. How many species and which types are confidential, of course.

These types of grass are selected by specialists and our representative with whom we work together closely. We get a lot of recommendations from our adviser on such matters as fertilization and maintenance.

When do you begin sowing new grass for upcoming competitions? How do you ensure optimal growth?

We plant the grass for a new season right after the last event of the year before. This will be at the beginning of October since our last competition is on the last weekend of September.

Grass needs a lot of love and attention. Every day we check on the health of the grass and the growth. Not so much the growth of the grass itself but the roots are the most important thing, actually. No roots mean no good stability. Additionally, we need to check whether the humidity is good as well. If there is less growth we start fertilizing. We do everything biologically. 

In the matter of fertilization, we have a fertilization plan that we strictly stick to, because we can't lose growth, especially of the roots, but we also don't fertilize too much because we grow on dead soil.

Dead soil is white sand, where there is no life, and we have a lot of problems with the leaching of the fertilizer, which is a waste of money. So we do small bits of fertilizing and repeat that several times.

What are your sowing secrets to get the ultimate footing?

How much grass we use to sow is a secret but believe me it’s a lot. Basically, we sow grass all year round, which we also do according to a program. This overseeding is done with a special machine. We own this machine like almost all other machines. That gives us more freedom in using them than if we would have to rent them every time.

With a lot of horses and rounds of show jumping, how do you maintain the grass during competition season?

The maintenance of the grass is of great importance during the competition season. Maintenance consists mainly of mowing, fertilizing, aerating and sanding, and watering on time. Of course, the most important thing for grass is oxygen, water, and light.

We mow every day in order to keep the growth going, and also during shows. Mostly, we fertilize once a week, which depends on the growth and the weather of course.

For fertilization, we are using granules, which we sprinkle as well as liquid fertilizers, which we spray with a special dispenser.

What are the ingredients for excellence with the LTIA grass arena?

The most important thing for a good grass arena is to take care of it every day and night. And doing the right treatments on time.

Last but not least, what is your secret for perfect grass in the arena? 

Talking a lot to the grass and giving lots and lots of love.

While Ruud Tilburg is keeping his cards close to his chest and not sharing the ‘secret sauce’ to the meticulous care behind the lush grass and ultimate show jumping surface atLongines Tops International Arena, one thing becomes abundantly clear: excellence thrives on dedication and passion. 

As the preparation for the 2024 season at Longines Tops International Arena continues, one thing is for sure, the main arena is looking better than ever!

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