Laying The Groundwork

Both Price and Wright recommend re-sodding worn areas. According to Wright, doing so between May and June will allow sod to establish without immediate worries of overuse, or of any freeze/thaw activity.

Price notes that many of the camp directors his company has worked with “have found cost benefits in sodding problem areas after each camp season in preparation for the next year. There are increased costs involved in sod versus seeding, but once it is done, you do not have to worry as much about grow-in time and field protection.”

Turn To The Turf

With those issues under control, it’s time to take a close look at the turf itself. Check for weeds (including clover, which can attract bees in warm weather) and for signs of other pests indigenous to the area (fire ants are a problem in certain areas of the South, for example).

Tripping hazards and uneven areas should be addressed, and glass, trash, and other debris should also be removed before fields go into use.

Once fields are in use, a regular schedule of mowing and irrigation should be followed. Keep an eye on the facility, though, throughout the camp season. Walk the fields regularly and pick up trash. Keep an eye out for the problems you were looking for in the spring–pests, weeds, and so forth.

And by all means, address issues while they’re still developing. It’s easier to prevent an injury than it is to deal with it.

Take time to examine equipment–goals, benches, bleachers, bases, and more–to make sure they’re in good repair. Order replacements or repair as necessary. (Again, preventing a problem or injury is easier and less problematic than dealing with the aftermath.)

Start The Cycle Over

Once the campers are finished for the year, it’s time to take stock of the facility again, says Patrick Maguire of Activitas Inc., in Dedham, Mass.

“The most important turf maintenance you can do in the spring is to have put your field to bed correctly the previous fall. This means removing leaves and debris, and making sure the field has been properly aerated and fed in the late fall so that the root system is healthy and better able to resist winter injury. It also helps them to wake up strong at the start of the spring growing season. As always, you should have your soil tested so that you know what it takes to keep the proper soil pH and have a proper nutrient program recommended by your soil lab or cooperative extension.”

As soon as one season ends, another begins. Right now, it’s almost time for kids and campers to start playing on the field. It’s up to you to make sure their playground is ready each time.

Mary Helen Sprecher has been a technical writer for more than 20 years with the American Sports Builders Association. She has written on various topics relating to sports-facility design, construction, and supply, as well as sports medicine, education, and health and industrial issues. She is an avid racquetball and squash player, and a full-time newspaper reporter in Baltimore, Md.

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  3. Dressing Up Turf
  4. The Root Of The Issue
  5. Beyond Tradition

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