Fall Maintenance of Athletic Fields
Sunday, August 14, 2016
It may not feel like it right now but cooler weather is around the corner. Which means that you’ll be adjusting your athletic field maintenance routine according to the whims of Mother Nature before you know it.
Cool-season fields (Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue or some combination of the above) need to be fertilized in the fall. Ideally, the first application would be in September, with second and third applications at the same levels in October and November. Giving your cool-season athletic field around 1 lb N/1000 sq ft every 4 weeks during the fall is the best way to optimize turf growth and density now, but also pays big dividends next spring, especially if you have a spring soccer season on this same field.
Another important fall strategy for cool-season sports fields is aeration. Sometimes this isn’t possible because of game schedules, but if you can work around them, aerate your field by plugging it to at least 3 inches in depth. Use a standard hollow-tine coring device, which will leave quite a bit of surface disruption from core removal. If you pull cores, let them air-dry on the surface, then drag them in with a mat or a piece of chain-link fence, and then run your irrigation to melt the remaining cores into the surface. If you have a sweeper, you might need to run it over the field to pick up the remaining material from the top of the plugs.
For fields that see heavy use, you might consider building a “seed bank” by regularly seeding the cool-season turfgrass of your choice weekly or bi-weekly throughout the season. If you go this route, you have to commit to a regular schedule because with the traffic on your field, there is no way all the young grass will tolerate survive. Unfortunately, this strategy does not work well with Kentucky bluegrass because it is so slow to germinate.
Most importantly, you should utilize turf blankets. Covering your turf has many advantages. Covers extend the growing season by warming the soil, enhance winter survival, and can provide frost protection. Late planted cool-season seed has a better chance of germinating under a cover during winter months than without one. If you have a spring soccer or baseball season, a turf blanket might be the most important tool at your disposal for getting turf ready for the seasons beginning in the spring. Turf blankets will also improve winter survival by warming the soil.
At Borgman, we’re happy to help you keep your fields in top condition. You can always count on our team to help yours with sound advice and top-notch service on your equipment. Call us anytime with questions about installation and maintenance.
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