Keeping Up With The Seasons

Ideally, fields should be rested through cold months, or after a season of heavy use. Realistically, though, many park fields are used even in the winter. For these facilities, the following steps are recommended.

In some areas, dethatching through use of a vertical mower or power rake is recommended in the spring and either late summer/early fall.

Fall fertilization can help fields deal with winter and grow better in the spring.

In addition, some turf managers recommend core aeration as the temperature cools in order to maintain soil quality and promote the health of the grass.

If an installed irrigation system is used during the year, be sure it is drained of water before temperatures drop.

For cold-season grasses, fall is a good time to seed fields, and to overseed areas that see the heaviest use, such as directly in front of soccer goals–provided the fields have some downtime to recover from play.

For warm-season grasses, resodding heavy-use areas can help bring a field back to an acceptable playing condition. If resodding in the fall, remember that sod will probably be dormant and will not grow until the soil temperatures stay above 50 degrees.

Overseeding dormant Bermuda with rye grass will provide a green playing surface during the winter and early spring months. However, transitioning from an overseeded field to a pure Bermuda playing field presents its own challenges to make sure the transition is smooth without damaging the grass.

No matter the type of grass, seeding, overseeding, or resodding will not help a field recover it is still in continuous use.


Again, unless winter in your area is characterized by non-stop heavy snow or ice, it’s likely your playgrounds will be used at least periodically in the winter (both kids and parents are prone to cabin fever, after all).

Check all equipment regularly, and repair or replace where needed since fewer users mean problems are less likely to be reported.

Inspect the surface around and under all equipment; most injuries on playgrounds are caused by falls. There are two types of surfacing–unitary and loose-fill.

Unitary surfacing has mats, tiles, or poured-in-place rubber surfacing, and is typically accessible to children in wheelchairs or with other mobility challenges.

Loose-fill surfacing uses wood chips, bark mulch, sand, pea stone, shredded rubber, or engineered wood fiber (engineered wood fiber and some shredded rubber are the only loose-fill materials that are considered accessible).

Unitary surfacing should be checked for integrity and repaired or replaced where necessary. Loose fill will need to be refreshed periodically, as it can be lost and packed down over time.

Walking Paths

Walking paths made of asphalt or concrete can be kept clear of snow and ice to allow for use throughout winter. Leaves and other debris can be removed with a leaf blower periodically.

As with other facility surfaces, check for cracks, depressions, and heaved areas, and have them addressed before they turn into a tripping hazard.

Seasonal maintenance isn’t the most glamorous or exciting of jobs, and it’s easy to push it aside in favor of other tasks. Just remember, though–the time you invest in regular maintenance will pay you back: in spring, you’ll have facilities that are ready for action as soon as your athletes are.

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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Related posts:

  1. Pre-Season Prep
  2. Weathering Winter
  3. Get A Game Plan
  4. Natural Grass Or Synthetic Turf?
  5. Tending To Turf

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