Wellington City Council is spending around $210,000 on a trial of a new playing surface at the park that could give up to 30 hours play a week during the winter sports season instead of 8–10 hours.
Council contractor Mexted Performance Sports Surfaces has started removing the top 30ml layer of turf ready for planting the couch grass. Once new drainage is installed a layer of sand will be laid and then spread with couch grass runners and more sand. The surface will be finished off by rolling it smooth and the grass will be left to grow until April next year.
This means Evans Bay Park will be out of action for sport or training this summer. The Council has been working with the New Zealand Rugby Union and the two clubs that use the park – Marist St Pat’s and Poneke – to find alternative venues.
Councillor Paul Eagle, Chair of the Community, Sport and Recreation Committee, says clubs are supporting the trial, and nearby Kilbirnie Park and the artificial turf at St Patrick’s College can provide back-up for player training.
"Unfortunately Evans Bay Park will be out of action for Sevens team training in February, but we are confident we can easily accommodate all the teams at our other grounds."
"The couch grass forms a thick mat that will stand up to some heavy duty wear and tear. Couch grass browns off in winter, so we are over-sowing with rye so players have green grass for the rugby season."
Couch grass is used elsewhere in the country, but this is first trial in Wellington.