Blades Of Green

Really, it’s so much easier when it’s your own yard. You mow it as often as necessary, you spread fertilizer, and depending upon your location, you water it to keep it lush.

Figure out what the best choice of grass is for your athletic field. Photo Courtesy of Beals Alliance, Sacramento,

CA

When it’s not a yard but an athletic field, and when it belongs to a municipality, however, it’s a different matter entirely.

Field maintenance–including mowing, fertilizing, watering, and weeding–must be done on a regular schedule to keep the facility playable, but that schedule also has to work around the demands for field usage. Then there’s the budget to manage, the equipment to maintain, and more.

Yes, keeping up your own yard is definitely easier. But that doesn’t mean a natural field is unmanageable. It’s just a matter of knowing the fields, and understanding what grows there.

And when it comes time to seed or sod a new field, it’s absolutely essential to have an understanding of the different varieties of grass. And there is a wide variety.

What To Consider

So where do you start when it’s time to make repairs, or create a new surface? One place not to start is a home-improvement store, looking at bags of seed and trying to decide between a shade mix or a quick-growing mix. Put down that seed bag, and back away slowly.

Instead, pick up a notebook and start itemizing what you need.

The most important choice you’re likely to make immediately is the type of grass to use in the field. According to Sports Fields: A Construction and Maintenance Manual, the choice will depend on the area of the country and the specific performance characteristics of the grass:

  • Time and method for establishment
  • Traffic tolerance (durability)
  • Recuperative potential
  • Water use
  • Thatch formation
  • Need for and method of repairing damaged areas
  • Heat or cold tolerance
  • Early green-up and late color retention
  • Local availability and cost of transportation
  • Initial cost and cost of long-term maintenance
  • Mowing height
  • Performance characteristics (traction, hardness, ball roll) as they relate to specific sports
  • Amount of maintenance
  • Texture (coarse, medium, fine)
  • Density
  • Susceptibility to insects and/or disease.

Top-Two Turf Grasses

Generally, turf grasses (those popularly used in sports fields) are classified as warm-season grasses and cool-season grasses. In geographic regions where either may be appropriate, the choice of which type of grass to plant is made based on soil and climate conditions.

Some grasses don’t do well in shade. Photo Courtesy of Stantec, Portland, MA

There are multiple options within each category, but two of the more popular grasses for sports field use are the following:

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  1. Pre-Season Prep
  2. Bounce Back
  3. Putting Turf To Bed For Winter
  4. Get A Game Plan
  5. Quick-Reference – Maintenance Tips
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