How soil stabilisation technology is helping construction at Venus Rock


How soil stabilisation technology is helping construction at Venus Rock
Sean Dudley
By Adam Lawrence

Cyprus, despite its economic troubles, has seen a boom era of new golf courses constructed over the past several years near Paphos including the Cabell Robinson-designed Aphrodite Hills and, more recently, Elea Golf Resort, a Faldo Golf design.

Now, Cypriot firm Aristo Developers is constructing a championship golf resort carved into a natural setting known locally as ‘Ha Potami’ (‘valley where animals came’). Construction on the first eighteen holes at Venus Rock, which will eventually become a 36-hole complex, commenced in spring of 2012, with the next phase scheduled to begin in late 2013. The first eighteen holes includes three floodlit holes for night golf. Both courses are designed by Austrian architect Hans-Georg Erhardt with British golfing legend Tony Jacklin as the signature name. The resort will ultimately feature over 2,500 private residences.

A key component of the golf course development effort has been the stabilisation of steep slopes surrounding the course, and the promotion of healthy vegetation on the site. For this, the design team and owners Aristo turned to Profile Products’ Flexterra-HP Flexible Growth Medium. The hydraulically applied product was proposed by Profile’s Gavin Kelly to address the 45-degree slopes, poor soils and limited irrigation.

The Aristo design team was made up of civil engineer Andreas Stavrinides, senior architect George Pahitis, chief engineer and project manager Andros Nicolaou, and course architect Erhardt. The golf contractor overseeing course construction on the project is Benedetti Golf International.

A Bowie 600 gallon hydromulcher was used to apply the thick and viscous hydraulic slurries to the difficult to reach slopes and roughs. Most of the slopes had gradients in excess of 45 degrees and with a limited amount of irrigation water onsite, the hydromulched areas would receive only some hand watering to aid establishment. Flexterra lasts 12-18 months before it naturally bio-degrades. Each rainfall event would recharge the lofted wood fiber matrix and give the grass plant and additional water reservoir to draw from.

The Aristo team saw the proposed solutions as green, environmentally sound and aesthetically pleasing. Pahitis says: “Our greatest challenge was to develop the course layout, taking advantage of the gorgeous natural landscape with minimal disturbance to the existing vegetation and wildlife.” To this end, the team deployed a number of best practices during construction, including the preservation of existing trees; transplanting suitable trees where possible; stock piling and capping of topsoil, sediment basins, dust control on haulage paths, storm drains, sand bag barrier to protect top of steep slopes, and stream bank stabilisation.

Kelly’s site visit confirmed the severity of slopes and the challenge ahead to stabilise and vegetate them. The slopes were composed of loose, non-compacted material of calcareous origin (high pH) with little or no organic matter.

Not all of the slopes could be compacted properly due to severity and length. To help establishment, chicken manure was used to provide an organic fertiliser. Slopes that could be tracked were tracked, while those that were too steep were compacted via the buckets and blades of excavators.

The seed recommendation was provided by agronomist Sylvain Duval and consisted of 50 per cent lolium varieties, 44 per cent festuca varieties and five per cent natives. The soil pH range was 8.4-8.7 and was mostly made up of crushed calcined rock on steep slopes cut to sculpture the fairways.

Severe washouts from September to January (up to four inches of rain per day) combined with intense heat to make the grow-in even more challenging. This process is being overseen by Derek Smith, formerly with Southern Golf.

“The site we have is very demanding as we are set in a valley with huge steep slopes and a river running through the middle,” says Smith. “Eight months of the year it is very dry with temperatures reaching over 40 Celsius. The remaining four months are also challenging as we can have heavy bursts of rain up to 80mm in three hours. “Flexterra-HP was perfect for us due to its water retaining abilities during dry periods and also its holding capacity during heavy rainfall.

For more information on the Venus Rock project or Profile Products, please contact Gavin Kelly on