Laying The Groundwork

Getting ready for the summer season often means airing out short-sleeved shirts and shorts, seeing if the porch furniture needs any repairs, and hunting for the bug spray.

Now is the time to repair or replace sod on your camp sports fields.

And when you think about it, getting a camp’s sports facilities ready for the coming year shouldn’t be much different from spring cleaning.

For those who have a co-op agreement with a local school, college, or university, prepping sports fields isn’t something you have to worry about. They’re already in use, so all you need to do is take over the upkeep work (mowing and watering, as well as checking for problems such as pests, weeds, and the occasional hazard caused by groundhogs or gophers).

If the field is artificial turf, you’ll just be looking at brushing the fibers and keeping the field clean, as well as making sure all equipment is in good repair.

Get A Game Plan

If, however, your sports facilities are natural turf and have gone unused (or perhaps underused) since last summer it’s time to shake the dust off and get them ready for the warm weather.

Sports-field designers and builders say the actual work starts well in advance of camp registration.

“Having a schedule of work to be done is important,” says Dan Wright of Sports Turf Company Inc., in Whitesburg, Ga. “You just can’t start maintenance a month before camp and expect to have a professional-looking playing surface.”

“Have a game plan for when maintenance can be done throughout the year,” says Chad Price of Carolina Green Corp. in Indian Trail, N.C.

“It may not be possible to work on the fields through certain periods of the season due to camp schedule. Out-of-season repairs may be necessary during winter months when you normally would not consider grass or turf work, but that may be the only time to get work done, so make plans to address any repairs and maintenance items you can immediately after camp season is over. Consider the fall as the best time to make repairs to your facility, rather than waiting until spring. Weather is usually more cooperative, and you reduce the spring-rush stress.”

In The Off-Season

For those who have limited time to maintain fields during the non-camp season, says Price, consider the use of a slow-release fertilizer, and a growth regulator, since both will result in “fewer trips across the field, with equipment, without sacrificing grass quality.”

While access to facilities may be limited in downtime, it is essential to perform at least a functional level of maintenance, according to Dan Wright.

“In the fall, the fields should be treated for winter weeds; for warm-season (Bermuda grass) grasses, this is usually in late October or early November,” says Wright.

“Have the soil tested in January to see how much lime and fertilizer may be needed, and in February, start your second application on winter weed-control and lime, if necessary. Around mid-March, apply a 2-1-2 ratio fertilizer, such as 19-9-19, at a rate of 500 pounds per acre. In May, apply ammonium nitrate at a rate of 300 pounds per acre–and this must be applied when field is dry.”

Maintenance is the key to beautiful camp sports fields.

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