Soil Matters 4 - Case study: Marsden Park Golf Course

Marsden Park Golf Course in the Lancashire town of Nelson is no stranger to heavy rainfall. The course has a number of sweeping slopes and a range of peaks and troughs, which means heavy rainfall and foot traffic during the autumn and winter often causes erosion of pathways around the 4th and 9th tees.

At the start

In the past, the course management team tried to overcome this issue by installing a number of different paving substitutes such as woodchip, solid bitumen, concrete and traditional gravel paving - but these haven’t always been successful. 

With the woodchip and gravel prone to water erosion, and the bitumen and concrete becoming slippery, the Marsden course management team needed a more suitable solution that was attractive, stable and cost effective.

The solution

Working with Walker Organics Management and the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI), Marsden decided to trial the use of BSI PAS 100 compost as a base for the creation of new pathways. This would enable Marsden to make use of a material that not only provides vital support to roots and grass – thereby creating an attractive ‘green’ pathway – but also reduce the costs associated with expensive gravel or concrete pathways.


At Marsden Park, Walker Organics Management and Marsden Park’s groundsman constructed ten trial paving plots and fitted 40mm recycled plastic geogrids to each in order to the keep the substrate stable. To the first four plots, two types of BSI PAS 100 compost were applied – either manufactured from food derived material, or from green waste. To the second four plots, the two quality compost variants were mixed with Envirosand – a product manufactured from recycled glass. In the final two plots, Envirosand was applied as a control material. Finally, one of each plot type was seeded with grass seed, while the others were kept bare and allowed to vegetate naturally.

The results

The results have been very positive. Grass development on each of the seeded plots has been impressive, with the food derived compost providing the fastest growth for healthy vegetation in the first year. The project began in January 2009 and during the spring and summer of that year the growth was swift and continued to provide support to vegetation. By winter, the test areas had reduced the damaging effects of run-off and overspill. 

The trial continues throughout 2010, and so far the results suggest that compost-based geogrid pathways provide an excellent alternative to expensive gravel or concrete pathways.