Keeping up with athletic field maintenance is not only a matter of appearance. It can also impact the performance of your athletes. The following are the steps you can take to keep your turfgrass in top shape for the Big Game.
Athletes need vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes to stay fit and ready to play at peak performance. Your turfgrass is no different. Grass needs nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to develop strong roots, green blades, and resistance to tough circumstances. This last quality is crucial for an athletic field. The average lawn may see some foot traffic from the postman or a game of catch in the backyard. Athletic fields need grass that can withstand repeated running, tackling, sliding, etc. If your grass doesn’t have the proper nutrients, it will easily tear up and leave thin or bare patches. This can be harmful to your players. When grass isn’t around to hold the soil in place, it can create divets and uneven areas. When it rains, you’ll be left with a puddly mess, which can exacerbate these uneven areas. Players can trip and fall and injure themselves, other team members, and interrupt the game’s flow.
Some people may be tempted to throw down moisture-absorbing products like sawdust or kitty litter or even push the puddles away with brooms. This is not a good solution to the problem and does not address the turfgrass’s health. By properly fertilizing and doing so frequently, you will keep your lawn and your players healthy!
All turfgrass becomes compacted over time. It’s a natural process that happens as organic material breaks down into the soil. Unfortunately for athletic fields, this process is accelerated because these lawns see more foot traffic. Compacted soil is hard and dense and causes the grass to thin out or stop growing. It also doesn’t allow for adequate drainage. By aerating at least once a year, especially in the spring, you can increase the oxygen, sunlight, water, and nutrient levels and decrease the chances of puddling water. Using a machine known as an aerator, your lawn technician will drill and remove thousands of tiny “plugs” of soil from the earth. These holes are tiny, so they will not ruin the look of your field. Aeration is a widespread practice in the lawn care industry. We perform it not only as part of sports complex landscaping but also as residential projects. In addition to helping your field properly absorb air, water, sunlight, and more, it will help your players as well. A healthy lawn, without compacted soil, should have a slight give to it. Compacted soil is extremely hard. That can cause wear and tear on your athletes’ joints. There’s a reason sports that involve running are not played on concrete. And for high contact sports, like football, you want your gridiron to have a bit of cushion because not if, but when players are tackled, you don’t want them to get hurt.
Overseeding is a process that is usually performed right after aeration. Overseeding is basically the process of scattering seed over the existing lawn. It’s an easy way to thicken thinning areas or fill in bare patches, making them less vulnerable. Aeration is not necessary for overseeding, but it is a helpful tool. Since aeration opens up the soil, some of the grass seeds will nestle into them and become better established in the earth as a result.
Grass only needs about 1.5 inches of water per week, and that includes any rainfall. Unfortunately, some athletic fields get overwatered, which opens up the door to lawn diseases – namely fungus. At Environmental Turf Management, we can preemptively treat your athletic field with a fungicide to keep nasty lawn diseases at bay.
Weeds not only ruin the pristine look of a baseball diamond or football field, but they can also cause players with allergies to have a flare-up. You need your players to be able to perform, and they can’t do that if they’re sneezing from all the weeds. We use both pre-emergent and post-emergent spray throughout the season. The pre-emergent spray is applied now, in spring, before weeds have a chance to take off. As the summer progresses, we will spot treat for any weeds using a post-emergent spray while we fertilize. Using these two methods, we will ensure your field stays weed-free from the home opener to the finals.
Here in Georgia, we have to deal with fire ants. Fortunately, you don’t have to tolerate them in your athletic field. Their bites can injure players, even causing severe reactions in certain cases. And then, of course, there are the hideous mounds they erect. And you thought weeds ruined the look of a field! You can protect your players with a fire ant control application and stop these ants in their tracks. Don’t wait until you see a mound before you treat. Fire ant control should be part of your athletic field maintenance checklist, without a doubt.
Since 2000, the professionals at Environmental Turf Management have improved the appearance and performance of sports fields. Our athletic fields and schools program provides the vital services you need to keep your property functional, safe, and pleasing to the eye. To learn more or schedule an appointment, give us a call at 770-466-0234 or contact us online. Learn more about other landscaping topics on our monthly blog. You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on special deals and offers!