Dressing Up Turf

It’s spring again. The skies are blue, the flowers are in bloom, and kids are counting down the days remaining in the school year.

Get your sports fields ready for camp.

And you have just realized it’s past time to get your fields in shape for an entire season of sports camps. The fields, including those for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and even football, are going to need serious maintenance to bring them up to the usual standards.

Creating a field-maintenance checklist is a great way to keep track of all the things that need to be done on a regular basis. Some items might only need to be checked off each month, but more essential tasks need to be completed weekly or even daily.

Synthetic-Turf Fields

Synthetic-turf fields don’t need mowing and fertilizing, but that doesn’t mean the facility doesn’t require some maintenance.

• Spend time removing debris from the fields, including leaves, seeds, trash, etc. A leaf blower may get the job done, but don’t hold it too close to the surface. A soft rake is probably a safer choice.

• Next, groom the turf. Whether you’re trying to help the fields rebound from snow loads, or just want the facility to look better, grooming is a great way to bring them back to a good playing condition. The frequency and type of grooming varies according to recommendations from the manufacturer. One form of grooming–dragging–involves pulling a piece of synthetic turf or a soft brush behind a utility vehicle. Power-grooming equipment also is available, with rotary-action brushes mounted on a motorized unit. A third form of grooming–scarification–involves using a sweeper or greens groomer. In all grooming, the goal is the same: preventing or remedying compaction of the surface, redistributing and re-leveling the infill, and bringing fibers upright again.

• Once the surface is upright, make sure all drainage systems are working properly. Check cleanouts and any areas where clogs might cause problems. Remember that no field performs well if it’s wet (even one that doesn’t get muddy).

• Keep machinery in good repair if it’s used on or near the turf so that it does not leak oil or other fluids onto the sport surface. Equipment should also feature wide, soft tires, sometimes referred to as ”turf tires,” and should be driven slowly with wide turns to avoid disturbing the aggregate base of the turf. Do not park or allow machinery to idle on the surface.

• At least once a year, have the fields professionally inspected and tested to make sure their playing qualities remain stable. (Something to remember: infill may shift in high-traffic areas, such as goal boxes, batter’s boxes and midfield areas.)

• Do a periodic walk-through of the facility, checking for loose seams or other problems. Remember that catching a problem early makes it easier and less expensive to repair. Although an experienced maintenance professional on staff may be able to repair problems, contacting an installer for advice is recommended.

Once the season is underway, maintenance should continue. Why? Because kids arrive to games armed with treats like soda pop, sunflower seeds and other snacks, and those pose a threat to turf because they get dropped and spilled, resulting in stains, contamination and more.

The fewer contaminants allowed on the surface, the cleaner it will remain. Prohibit smoking, food and beverages, gum, chewing tobacco and other substances.

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