Ask any turf management professional and they will tell you that properly maintaining a natural grass athletic field is not an easy job. Having to coordinate with schedules of field use, budget, and weather doesn’t even factor in having to make sure the field looks good, plays well and stays that way (even after a big weekend of use).
The first step in successful natural grass athletic turf maintenance is education, so today we will be going over how to properly maintain a typical natural grass athletic field. Having a well-cared for sports field will ensure that it is clean, safe, and usable for the players and public alike.
Of all the steps, mowing is the one that must be done most often. In most cases, sports field turf needs to be mowed at least twice per week in the early spring when the turf starts to grow. Frequent mowing promotes a dense surface for activities and it reduces any clumps that could become tripping hazards.
This is an important step, because without a soil test, there is no way to know what nutrients the soil needs and what the turf plant needs to thrive. A turf professional can tell a lot about a turf’s soil health by conducting a simple soil test. This test will tell you the soil pH and nutrient levels present.
A soil test normally takes between 20 and 30 soil samples from the field, mixes them together and allows them to dry. A turf specialist can test the soil and give you the results. Conducting a soil test will help you save on lime and fertiliser in the long run.
When it comes to fertilising turf, it should be applied during the months that the grass is actively growing. If you use bermuda grass, this would be the summertime. Another time fertiliser should be applied is if the field has damage from heavy traffic or games played in inclimate weather. After fertiliser has been applied to the field, it must be watered right away to make sure it works as needed.
Depending on the climate where your field is, irrigation can be a bit tricky depending on how much natural rain you get annually. Make sure to take that into account when you begin your irrigation schedule.
Another big factor in field irrigation is how to apply water to the turf. One of the best ways is with pop-up irrigation systems, as these are easy to monitor water usage and position. You can waste hundreds if not thousands of dollars in water usage if you try to manually water the turf.
Now, how MUCH water does the field need? You will need to know the signs of drought, such as bluish-gray hue to the grass, or if the grass does not spring back up when stepped on. Make sure to not to water too often or for too short of a time-period. You want to make sure the water gets down into the root system to promote lush growth and stay away from overwatering.
An often neglected step, aeration is used to help prevent soil compaction and allows air, water and nutrients to reach the roots of the grass. Aeration should be spaced out and performed roughly 6 times during the season it is used most.
Methods for aeration vary. Many sports fields use a tractor-drawn aeration machinery, though some still use the tried and true walk-behind units. Some units rely on weight to push tines into the ground while others drive the tines into the field deeper. Hollow tines are preferred for soil-based fields and solid tines are better for sand-based ones.
The last task on the list is overseeding, which is the process of applying seed to a field to improve turf density and quality, which helps it recover faster from frequent use. If you cannot afford to overseed your entire field, focus on the high-traffic areas. Overseeding should be done after you aerate the field, as it proves a better seedbed. Make sure to water the field right after you seed to get the process started and your field looking great for another season of play.
Get Your Turf Maintenance from the Experts
A well maintained sports field provides a better playing surface, as well as keeping your athletes safe. The Garden Men can offer a proactive plan to monitor turf health, handle aeration, irrigation, and mowing, as well as putting plans in action to protect the field for any weather events that come up.
Call or visit us online today for a free quote to discuss a plan that suits your needs at a reasonable and competitive price. Our highly organised, passionate team will provide you with quality service and reliable expertise to ensure your grounds are immaculately maintained.