A major challenge for public and private sports fields is keeping the turf looking good. Whether you are in charge of maintaining a field at a large public park or for a small nonprofit, such as a religious school, ensuring that the turf is in good condition is vital. The following turf management tips can help you with this task.
Compaction is the main issue faced by the turf in a sports field. Aeration is the key to overcoming compaction. Core aeration loosens compacted soil deeply, but the removed soil cores can impede activities on the field for a few days to a week. For this reason, it is best to perform deep core aeration once annually during the off-season when the field isn't seeing regular use. You can combine aeration practices with herbicide and fertilizer treatments so you can simply close the field temporarily to avoid problems.
Spike aeration isn't as invasive and doesn't leave any troublesome cores on the turf surface to trip field users. Instead, the aeration tool simply uses spikes to poke unobtrusive holes in the soil. Spike aerate the field up to once monthly if your field has major issues with compaction.
Topdressing with fresh topsoil or compost also helps prevent compaction because it adds light, airy, and nutrient-rich organic particles to the existing soil. Simply apply up to 1/2 inch of fresh soil or compost evenly over the entire field. You can use a spreader to make the task go quickly. A quick raking over the field will help the fresh soil settle down to ground level.
Another way topdressing can help is if low spots develop in the field. You can top dress the low spot with a mix of equal parts topsoil and sand. Fill in the low spot until it is level but some of the grass tips are still showing. The grass will quickly reestablish in the spot, but the area will now be level.
Irrigation can pose a challenge to sports fields. If possible, install moisture meters in key areas of the field and hook them up to your irrigation system. Meters ensure that the field is only watered when necessary and that it is not overwatered. Overwatering can be a real problem since the turf can be destroyed if the field is used when it is wet and muddy.
When you irrigate also matters. Plan to irrigate late at night or early in the morning so that much of the excess moisture evaporates from the field before anyone uses it for the day. It's also a good idea to water on the days when the field sees the least amount of regular use.
Consider contracting with a turf management service if you need more help.