Quick-Reference - Maintenance Tips

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Maintenance Tips

1. On fields (like football/soccer) where you have enough space, try to move the field over or turn it 180 degrees to try to spread out the high-wear areas. If it's a combination game and practice field ask the teams to move the practices around as much as possible to spread the wear out. Most teams have a habit of practicing in the same spot all day. Do it as much as time and budgets allow.

2. A recent study I read has begun to prove what I have seen before. If you know an area is going to get high use or wear, seed into it before the event happens. If you continue to seed it on a 7-10 day basis you have a good chance to keep the area green, assuming the weather cooperates.

3. We have cool season grass here in Chicago, and the sod is mostly bluegrass. A lot of people insist on reseeding with bluegrass seed and that is a good thing, but when the usage is high, seeding with perennial ryegrass will help heal the areas quicker simply because it germinates and grows faster. You can get ryegrass seed to germinate as fast as 2-5 days in good conditions as opposed to bluegrass germinating in 7-21 days. Use both if you can. They sell bluegrass-ryegrass blends, and the rye will help protect the younger bluegrass plants until they have a chance to get going. I have also found that you should talk to your seed supplier and ask about the germination characteristics of the different varieties. Some grasses grow differently in the spring as opposed to the summer and fall. We use straight ryegrass over bluegrass sod and seed with bluegrass as much as possible.

4. When you have spots that are low or compacted and won't drain, and you can't spend a lot of time and money to fix, try what I have heard called a French Drain. It is basically a hole dug in the center of the low spot and filled with sand or a calcinated clay type of product. Sometimes a piece of plastic drain pipe is used vertically in the center of the hole. You can do this on grass areas and skinned infield areas also. Leave it an inch or so below the turf or infield mix. If it is compacted try to aerate it as much as possible.

5. The more often you mow the thicker it will grow, regardless of how high you are mowing. We mow from one inch to 1 3/4 inches. The Chicago Park District mows from 2 1/2 in to 4 inches.

6. As a friend of mine and fellow groundskeeper likes to say, "Grass grows by inches and is killed by feet."

John Nolan , head groundskeeper, Soldier Field, Chicago

Bryan BuchkoComment