Pre-Fall Prep Time

Overseeding is also a way to help build up a thicker, more solid layer of turf that’s less affected by wear and tear. I like to overseed in September and October, ideally after aerification. You can even sling seed by hand if need be, so don’t feel that you don’t have the time or equipment to do a proper job. I’ve heard one professor describe overseeding as creating a “seed bank,” where you’re giving the field the resources to replace the torn-up grass with new grass. Your goal is to have a field that is constantly replacing the damaged grass with new grass.

The Extra Mile

Trying to keep turf strong is always a challenge, especially when it’s being kicked and crushed by the likes of football and soccer spikes, but there are a few extra things you can do to get fields through the end of the season.

Keeping up with divots is the key to maintaining a playable as well as an attractive field throughout the season. When football practice kicks off in August, I usually let the team play on it for a week (eight hours a day) before I start filling in the worn areas. My crew and I just take buckets of sand and seed to the field, and fill the divots by hand. The next day, the mixture is worked into the turf as the team plays on it. I generally arm everyone with a gallon bucket filled with basic mortar sand and a fast-germinating seed mixture, usually NuDestiny Bluegrass and Revenge GLX ryegrass. It’s not fancy, but it helps us keep pace with the players. Usually, I run short on manpower rather than funds for the materials; with the use our fields receive, I try to fix divots on a daily basis, but it may only be done a few days a week when we’re busy.

If there is more extreme damage, such as bare spots around a goal mouth at mid-season, a temporary fix is to topdress with crumb rubber. The crumb rubber helps protect the crown from pounding feet. Its insulating effect can help keep Bermuda grass warm, but be careful–it can make a cool-season grass too hot.

Regardless of what you put on the turf, be smart about how you do it. Be especially careful with phosphorus and nitrogen because they have a tendency to run off, so over-applying can be harmful to the environment. Potassium is slow-moving, but can leech into the soil. Again, a soil test can reveal what you have and what you need to ensure you provide the perfect mix of fertilizer and supplements.

So enjoy the last dog days of summer, but start planning your pre-fall maintenance. Before you know it, fall will have arrived, so the secret to happier, healthier turf is keeping ahead of the season.

Jason Bowers, CSFM, is the Sports Turf/Athletic Grounds Manager at Virginia Tech University. Before his current position, he worked as an Assistant Superintendent at Whiskey Creek Country Club 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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Related posts:

  1. Pre-Season Prep
  2. Prepping Fields For Fall – Business As Usual?
  3. STC To Hold “Whistle-stop” Seminar
  4. Protecting The Great American Pastime
  5. Turf Time

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