Get A Game Plan

An effective baseball coach wouldn’t think about sending his team onto the field without a game plan–a strategy the players can use to outplay and outscore their opponents.

Getting your ball fields ready early is the key to a successful season.

Why should you, as a manager, let anyone use a field without a maintenance plan?

It makes sense, doesn’t it? And while you’re not out there trying to pitch, hit, and run in a way your opponent isn’t expecting, you are trying to vanquish weeds, annihilate pests, and create a superior playing environment, even when Mother Nature doesn’t seem to want to cooperate.

A game plan for proper field-maintenance and management starts in the pre-season, not a few days before players are due to take the field.

Here’s a quick primer from field builders on what to do and how to do it:

Fertilize

In a perfect world, sunshine and warm, drenching spring rains would result in an emerald-green field.

Do you live in a perfect world? Nobody does. As a result, there’s fertilizer.

“If you are in a situation of very limited access-time for maintenance of grass fields, consider use of very slow-release fertilizer formulations and use of growth regulators,” says Chad Price of Carolina Green Corp. in Indian Trail, N.C.

“This will result in fewer trips across the field with equipment, without sacrificing grass quality.”

Turf Inspection

Keep a careful eye on all aspects of the field, Price adds.

“In performing field inspections, look at safety first. Obviously, irregular surfaces, trip hazards, and ankle twisters are a concern, but look also at organic threats, such as bees and other insects. Clover flowers are a big attractant for bees. The best time for weed control for clover is typically fall or spring, before flowering starts.

“Fire ants are also a big problem for southern locations. Some of the year-round controls are also applied in the winter/early spring. Look at the soil for glass, rocks, or debris that may surface once the turf gets worn or thin. Check for hazards on perimeter areas that kids may wander off into, such as woods, fences, and other hardscapes.”

Look for worn areas where players typically stand, and re-sod or re-seed these areas. Again, this is a much more effective strategy if it’s launched in the fall so that new grass has time to establish. Sodding or seeding right before players take to the field means there’s little chance for new growth.

What's your field maintenance game plan?

Depending upon your geographic location, the big issue may not be waiting for grass to grow in following a hard winter, but waiting for the warm-weather grasses to re-establish.

“Most park-and-recreation fields in the southeast are Bermuda grass fields,” notes Dan Wright of Sports Turf Company in Whitesburg, Ga.

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