Servest Landscaping, with over 4,500 people, 57 horticulturists, and 600 years of combined industry experience, has recently used its expertise and technology to successfully partner with two high-profile clients on their exciting and challenging ecological restoration projects.
One of these projects was keeping the Centurion Golf Estate in pristine condition. The golf estate itself sits on the banks of the Hennops River and, for most of the year, can be considered a feature on its own. However, when certain parts of Johannesburg experience heavy rain, the river bursts its banks and floods the golf course with rubbish and mud. This caused the course to be unplayable, and in need of urgent corrective action. The restoration team was given a maximum of two days to remove this mud from the playing surfaces, otherwise it would have resulted in the grass dying, and massive areas would have had to be sodded, which would have created additional expenditure and delays. In an average season the course floods between five and eight times, but it also needs to be maintained at the highest level every other day of the year.
With the most recent flooding occurring over a weekend, the team had to work extra hard to get the entire course playable in just three days. All the mud had to be scraped and squeegeed off the fairways and, in some instances, loaded onto tractors and trailers by hand for disposal. Coupled with this, several tons of rubbish were also removed from the course. Mark van der Linde, Servest Landscaping’s branch manager, says, ‘I was extremely proud of our team; not once did they complain or stand back. This was a fantastic effort, in the true spirit of being a team.’
The second restoration project was preserving the grounds of FNB Stadium. Servest was proud to provide their services and skills to this prestigious multipurpose stadium, which hosts a number of events every year – from international football tournaments to popular music concerts, festivals and even National Prayer Day. Juggling these different requirements can be tricky, but the Servest team rose to the challenge each time.
For example, with only 12 days between the Afcon qualifier between Bafana Bafana and Nigeria on 17 November last year, and the muchanticipated Guns N’ Roses concert on the 29th, the team had much work to do. The specialised pitch construction crew moved in on the evening of the 17th and removed the entire surface of the pitch to create a stage-friendly platform for a series of non-football events. First was the National Day of Prayer on the 25th, and then – four days later – the heavy metal Guns N’ Roses. Three days after the sold-out Guns N’ Roses concert, music fans from all over South Africa streamed to FNB Stadium once again to watch international stars like Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Janet Jackson in the Global Citizenship Festival put on to honour Nelson Mandela.
But FNB Stadium is primarily a football venue, and the home ground of Kaizer Chiefs, so early on the morning of 3 December the team moved again to prepare for Amakhosi’s 700th PSL match, making them the first South African team to reach this epic milestone.
They had nearly a month, which seems like a long time, but it was a hot summer with daily temperatures peaking at around 35°C, and no sign of precipitation or any relief from the searing heat. Soil temperatures were measured on a daily basis, with midday recordings in excess of 35°C throughout December. The pitch was then seeded with a cool-season turf grass variety, and the maintenance team began nurturing the pitch in order to host the blockbuster showdown between Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns on 5 January.
The groundskeeping team had to adapt, utilise modern turf technology, and think outside the box in order to provide solutions to evolve with this multipurpose stadium. But they rose to the challenge, proving that, with hard work, ambition, research and sheer determination, they have what it takes to provide a world-class service in the landscaping and turf business.
The dynamic and expertly skilled landscaping team consider themselves to be valued partners to their clients. They are a force that constantly innovates and finds solutions, always making environmental sustainability and preservation a key priority. They don’t stand on the stage for applause, or raise their hands in victory when a goal is scored, but it is the work they do in the background that makes FNB Stadium a venue that can host a wide variety of events. The fans don’t see them, but FNB management, and also the rest of us here at Servest, notice and appreciate our highly skilled team.