Wringing Out The Water

The multiple-use sports field is the Swiss Army Knife in your sports-facility arsenal.

Do you have a plan for keeping your multi-use sports field in shape?

No matter what sport or event you’re talking about–soccer, football, even festivals–that type of field has the flexibility to take it on.

No area has more use, no surface sees more foot traffic, and sadly, no facility gets less rest.

The fact that many fields see games scheduled back-to-back–and often end-to-end if the area is large enough–means the fields have to bounce back after a rainstorm and be ready for play.

Let’s face it: A facility with games almost every day of the week doesn’t have much wiggle room in terms of scheduling. It can’t afford to stay muddy for days on end.

While many rec and park districts are starting to implement the use of one or more synthetic-turf facilities (which have the advantage of mechanical drainage systems, making them ready for play almost immediately after rain), the vast majority of the municipal multi-use fields are composed of natural grass.

Here’s a little-known fact, though: Natural fields can still hold up to the weather. All they need are solid construction (including the right soil for the weather conditions and intended use), and regular maintenance.

From The Ground Up

All fields, no matter the type of grass, need the correct soil. There are two basic types of natural-grass fields:

1. Native-soil

2. Sand-based.

A native-soil field may be a true native field, in which only the soil found at the site is present, or a modified native-soil field, or a sand-cap field.

A sand-based system, on the other hand, is one in which the native soil is completely removed and replaced with an under-drain system and a drainage media layer (principally stone and rootzone material that is largely sand) to improve drainage.

Neither type of field is “better” per se; however, one may be better under certain conditions.

According to the book Sports Fields: A Construction and Maintenance Manual, “The main problem with native-soil fields is drainage. Most native soils absorb water quite slowly and cannot handle large amounts; therefore, without additional provision for drainage, these fields can easily become muddy, worn, and/or unusable.”

Proper drainage can help keep sports fields from being a muddy mess.

Unfortunately, over time, native soil can compact. Constant use (something all multi-purpose fields have), mowing, irrigation, and more will flatten the soil, making it tighter and harder. When water then falls on the field, it takes longer to migrate down through the soil and many times becomes trapped.

The result is a muddy field that is easily torn and scarred by athletes. The constant use creates a self-perpetuating cycle of damage, leading to a field where grass can’t grow.

Experts recommend that fields be closed and allowed to rest while soil is amended, and/or new seed or sod is put in. Unfortunately, cities and field managers are often at cross purposes because many municipalities–in order to generate the funds necessary to keep facilities upgraded–will allow park fields to be booked by out-of-town teams for regional and state tournaments.

Page 1 of 3 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Seeping With Success
  2. Bounce Back
  3. Water Tap
  4. Make Water Work
  5. Dirty Work
  • Columns
  • Departments