Multi-Use Sports Field Maintenance

For your high-use fields, determine which areas will bear the greatest stress, and focus maintenance efforts on those places. For instance, most of the wear on a football field is down the center, while soccer and lacrosse fields experience the most wear at the goal areas. Baseball fields usually wear most around first and third base and around dugout areas. Again, overseeding and aerifying are the keys to relieving compaction issues in worn areas, but frequent maintenance can make it difficult to keep the field “picture perfect.”

While ideally you should plan ahead for upcoming situations, maintaining a multi-use field often means you’re forced to focus on whatever sport is “in season.” For instance, I have one field that is used for both soccer and lacrosse. In the fall, I focus my maintenance on soccer then when spring rolls around, my maintenance shifts to lacrosse. The turf is continually maintained, but a greater emphasis is applied to areas of the turf experiencing stress.

But My Turf Isn’t Real

Maintenance remains important even with synthetic turf, requiring more effort as these surfaces age. At Virginia Tech, one practice field made of synthetic turf boasts white lines sewn in for soccer and yellow lines sewn in for lacrosse. At five years old, the field requires more maintenance than when it was first built, but continual maintenance has helped keep it in good shape. We regularly add more crumb rubber, and drag the field once a month to eliminate debris, leaves or snow.

Maintaining multi-use fields, whether natural or synthetic, involves more planning than maintaining a single-use field, but it does not have to be more difficult. Personally, I find it easier to prepare ahead of time for unexpected stress and wear patterns–plan for the worst-case scenario! That way, when a field is in the spotlight for that big game or concert, the turf is ready to go–no matter what it has endured in previous weeks or months.

Jason Bowers is the Sports Turf/Athletic Grounds Manager at Virginia Tech University. Before his current position, he worked as an Assistant Superintendent at Whiskey Creek and Beaver Creek Country Club in Maryland, and as a Turf Specialist at Bozzuto Landscaping. He graduated from Virginia Tech with an Associate’s Degree in Agricultural Technology. Bowers can be reached at jabowers@vt.edu.

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