Tests on Optimisation of Maintenance of Grass Tracks

Main reasons for inadequate maintenance are:

  • Economies on maintenance for business management reasons
  • Lack of knowledge and experience regarding the necessary ex-tent of maintenance for preservation of the targeted vegetation
  • Missing knowledge of horticultural requirements of the greening system and the correlation of maintenance and preservation of a stable plant society

Consequences of no maintenance are:

  • Succession (changing of plant society), like decline of targeted vegetation and increasing weed presence
  • Thereby visual appearance changes, as for example jaggy appearance/thinning of plant coverage / tufts of grasses by tussock forming grasses up to drop out of vegetation
Beikraut im Gleis
Beikraut im Gleis
Beikraut im Gleis

Increasing weed pressure due to low or unprofessional maintenance. Higher maintenance effort is needed to reestablish the targeted vegetation. (Photos Schade and IASP)


Therefore our project emphases were:

  • Implementation of different maintenance measures in 3 track parts of a grass track in Berlin (intensive care, optimal care, normal care):
    Development of new maintenance technology for the track by the network partner NIRA: curry comb tractor attachment to loosen dry lawn or mulch followed by vacuuming the dry plant parts
  • Variations of mowing frequency, cutting depth, amount of fertilizer; test with raking and scarifying;
  • Adaption of maintenance measures to grass development stages
  • Documentation of the grass development during 2 vegetation periods
  • Comparison of life cycle costs of those 3 maintenance intensities and conclusion of optimal and economically justifiable maintenance

Preliminary results:

  • A higher maintenance frequency temporarily fostered the density of the lawn.
  • In the two test years several longer droughts occurred. Due to the limited thickness of the greening system in the test tracks, the temporarily low natural water supply had a greater influence on plant development than the maintenance intensity.