We’ve invested in cutting edge equipment, conducted extensive research, and staffed our team with individuals that are proven winners in the sports turf scene. All of this means that the services we offer are executed by knowledgeable people and done with equipment that is industry-best. What you see below are a few of the services that we recommend.

top dressing

Top Dressing Your Turf

What is Top Dressing Turf?

Top dressing is the act of applying a mixture of sand and compost to the already existing soil. It is applied to the turf in 1/8” to ¼” layers on top of the turf. This practice enriches the soil with more microbes, and helps to restore the balance of the soil and turf.

How Top Dressing Helps Turf

Top dressing your turf has many great benefits. It can:

  • Provide a better playing surface by softening and evening the turf
  • Decrease compaction of the turf
  • Allow for better nutrient retention, as well as more oxygen and water to all flow better to the root zone in order to be better utilized by the grass
  • Eliminate thatch by retaining heat and moisture in order to help with decomposition
  • Fill lower depressions in order to bring turf to equal level for cutting of the leaf
  • Improves drainage



How Do You Top Dress a Lawn?

  • Choose the right materials in order to top dress your lawn. Different composts and sands have different nutrient levels. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you choose the right material for the type of lawn that you will be top dressing. For instance, a home lawn will be top dressed with compost while a golf green will be top dressed with sand.
  • Dethatch your lawn from any extra debris such as roots and stems.
  • Mow your lawn as low as you can without hurting the grass.
  • If your lawn needs it, perform core aeration.
  • Cover the lawn with top dressing at 1/8” to 1/4” thick. Make sure to fill in the holes if you have performed core aeration in the step before.
  • Make sure to evenly spread the top dressing so it touches the most possible amount of the lawn.
  • If you are going to overseed the turf, do this after you top dress the lawn.
  • Keep the soil consistently moist, but not too wet.



When it comes to top dressing a lawn, there are many factors that go into performing it correctly. When mixed with other efforts such as core aeration and overseeding, there needs to be the correct balance of each. Therefore, it is best to consult a professional such as Commonwealth Sports Turf in order to get the right type of advice and service.




Thatch And Your Turf

What is thatch?


Thatch is a combination of alive and dead grass stems, shoots, and roots that embeds itself between your turf grass and soil. This happens when your turf produces debris much faster than it can be broken down or decay.


Thatch can also build up because of certain turf and soil conditions as:


  • Soils that contain acid, as they are not the right environment for thatch decomposing organisms and microbes.
  • Soils that contain too much clay or sand
  • Compacted soils or soils with poor structure
  • Grass types that produce large quantities of stems, as these are one of the most decay resistant parts of turf.



What problems does thatch cause with turf?


Thatch is not necessarily a negative thing. It can help to build your turfs health and resiliency through protecting against extreme temperatures and adverse soil moisture levels. However, “good thatch” will be half and inch thick or less, and anything more can be harmful to the soil.


Some problems that thatch can cause when too thick are:


  • Root damage
  • Root rot
  • Harboring of disease causing organisms and insects


These problems can cause detrimental damage to your turf and seriously deteriorate its health. If you are invested in the proper growth and upkeep of your turf or sports turf, it is important to learn how to manage thatch growth issues in order to avoid these problems.


How do you manage thatch?


Managing thatch can be frustrating at times. However, there are quite a few steps you can take in order to prevent thatch from even growing or to get it under control after it already has.


Some of these options are:


  • Choosing a grass or seed that does not produce too much thatch
  • Taking regular soil PH level and nutrient tests
  • Raise soil PH levels if too low by using something such as dolomitic limestone to help with thatch decompositions
  • Perform preventative core aeration every fall
  • Avoid applying the wrong kind of fertilizer, or applying it too much or too often
  • Use pesticides and fungicides sparingly and only when truly needed
  • Physically remove the thatch by raking or using a vertical mower




If you have any questions on how to prevent or get rid of thatch in your turf, get help from a professional that can walk you through the process. Contact Commonwealth Sports Turf Services today for more information.

sports turf maintenance process

Turf Fall Overseeding

What Is Fall Overseeding?


Fall overseeding is something that many homewners might not know about or take the time to do. However, it creates a beautiful, healthy lawn year round. Overseeding is the act of seeding an already growing lawn with grass seed. It helps to grow more turf where it is thinning without starting over with completely new grass installation. Usually, this damage is created from heat, heavy foot traffic, or even lack of water. Overseeding is part of a comprehensive plan for your turf that can create a lush green lawn.


Based on geography, type of grass, and time of year, there are differences in overseeding techniques.



When Do You Practice Fall Overseeding?


Home Depot says that “Fall is the ideal time to overseed cool season grasses, because the soil is still warm enough to germinate seeds and the cool air invites grass to grow a strong root system. Cool season grasses include Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass and Fescue…[and] late spring or early summer is ideal for overseeding warm season grasses in the South.”


Fall overseeding should be done earlier in the North because cooler weather happens sooner, whereas it can be done later in the South. By overseeding at this time of year, you are giving your grass a head start before the weather gets too cool. Overseeding, paired with the right amount of sun, fertilizer, etc. can create the perfect lawn.



How Do You Practice Fall Overseeding?


Overseeding your turf in the fall can be a great investment.


The steps to overseeding are:


  • Choosing the right seed – Make sure to choose the right seed for both your grass and the climate that you live in.
  • Preparing the turf area – Make sure to mow your lawn before seeding so the seed can come in contact with the dirt and doesn’t go to waste by getting stuck in thick grass.
  • Seeding the turf area – Spread the seed across the turf area evenly.
  • Watering the turf area – Immediately water the seeded area to help grow the seeds. Also make sure to water more frequently (1-2x a day) as you are waiting for the seeds to grow and match your existing lawn.
  • Mowing the turf area – try no to mow as frequently while the new seeds are growing up to the same height as the existing lawn.




If you want to improve the quality and look of your lawn by Fall overseeding, but need some help or would like more detailed information, contact Commonwealth Sports Turf Services today!

sports turf aeration

Sports Turf Aeration

What is sports turf aeration?

You may have heard the term aeration before when talking about sports turf. But what exactly does it mean? It’s the process of removing plugs of grass from the lawn in order to aerate the turf. These plugs go deep enough to core out a small section of grass and underlying soil in order to help the turf aerate (or exchange of air between soil and atmosphere) naturally. Turf aeration is best received by the grass when plug spaces are deeper and tine spacing is closer.


Why should I aerate?

Why should one aerate their soil? Because by removing these plugs of grass, the soil is allowed to breathe, promoting less compaction and therefore root growth. Both of these things equal healthier grass! When turf and soil are compacted, water and fertilizer cannot correctly reach the roots. This compaction can happen from regular use such as walking, mowing, or playing a sport on the turf.


Some other benefits of lawn aeration are:


  • Better intake of water into the soil
  • Improved air exchange
  • Stronger roots in soil
  • Less compaction within soil
  • Better intake and use of fertilizer
  • Less harmful puddling of water
  • Less water runoff
  • Higher resistance to drought and heat stress
  • Better cushioning and resiliency to other possible issues


How often should I aerate?

Aeration to most turf grasses should be done annually. However, if the lawn is in heavy use, some turf can benefit from twice a year aeration efforts. In some cases for certain sports, aeration can even be needed three to five times a year.


When should I aerate?

Cool season turf grass needs can be aerated in both the Spring and the Fall. This aeration in the Spring can be done anytime between March and May, and the aeration in the Fall can be done anytime between August and November. In contrast warm season turf grasses need to be aerated in about the mid Spring through the end of Summer. This aeration should not be done until after the first mowing has been done in the Spring.


What kind of sports turf aeration equipment do I need?

Aeration machines allow for turf aeration to be done quickly and easily in large spaces. Aeration machines with solid spikes or tines will only compact the soil more, and you will want a machine that allows for the removal of tube like areas from the turf. Depending on the size of the area, there can be aeration machines that operate anywhere from walking and pushing to tractor drawn units. You can sometimes rent these machines at your local home improvement store, or you can just trust a professional to do the work for you and take away the guessing game!


If you have any further questions about sports turf aeration, please contact Commonwealth Sports Turf Services today!

upkeep for sports turf

What is Proper Upkeep For Sports Turf?

Sports turf can be used to cover high school football fields, large soccer complexes, and even golf courses.

While a game can’t always be perfect, the turf always can. What some might just see as grass, any athlete knows differently that it can help to make or break the game. Proper upkeep for sports turf can immensely change the game.

So you want to have a beautiful playing field with yards and yards of lush green sports turf. However, it isn’t necessarily that easy and turf carries it’s own list of duties for upkeep. But what are those things? If you are new to the sports turf world, you might wonder what could possibly be worried about when it comes to sports turf – it just gets installed and sits there right? Wrong. Sports turf can last for a long time if it is properly managed and well taken care of. Here, we will list just some of the many things that one should be concerned about when they have sports turf installed on playing fields.


Upkeep For Sports Turf

Do you know anything about soil compaction or grade in heavy traffic areas? How about aeration schedules, nitrogen application plans, or standing water? Some seasons can make your turf too spongy while others have the ability to dry it out completely. Some turf needs rest after it has been overused in events such as tournaments, and certain years others might need to be overseeded. Colors can change and even the feel can change. Sometimes turf is supposed to look and feel certain ways, and sometimes it isn’t. These are all concerns that you probably don’t want to be constantly worrying about.


Why try to figure out all of these things on your own? It’s not enough to pay somebody to install your turf and then watch the company leave. Use a professional company that is committed to proper maintenance and knows what they are doing. It will save many headaches and give you the piece of mind that your investment is being used to the best of its ability. If you want to learn more you can visit sportsturfonline.org or give Commonwealth Sports Turf Services a call today!

sports turf

Why Should I Use Sports Turf?

Sports turf is an artificial option to use on playing fields rather than real grass. This turf can be installed on a multitude of fields and can come in many different types based on the sport being played.


Installing synthetic turf can have many positive outcomes such as less cost, maintenance, and increased playability. If you are considering using sports turf, read below for some more information as well as considerations!


It costs less.

By installing sports turf, you no longer have to worry about constant expensive maintenance and labor such as fertilizing, watering, mowing, pest control, and seeding, and repainting of lines. While artificial turf does require maintenance, it is much less work and expense than natural grass.

It saves water.

Sports turf saves water in comparison to the needs of natural grass. The Synthetic Turf Council states that “depending on the region of the country, a typical grass sports field requires between 500,000 to a million gallons of water or more each year. [And that] during 2010, between four to eight billion gallons of water were conserved through [turf] use”.

It helps to decrease injuries.

Having natural grass means a field that can get torn up through play and be ruined in rain. These problems can result in slippery areas of mud, sitting water, or even potholes that can cause sprained ankles as well as many other types of injuries. Without these complications, many injuries are avoided.

It doesn’t need pesticides.

Simply put, sports turf doesn’t need pesticides like natural grass does! This is great for the health of the players, the environment, as well as the cost of the owner. The Synthetic Turf Council says that “the EPA has identified runoff of toxic pesticides and fertilizers as a principal cause of water pollution” and that “synthetic turf eliminates the need for nearly a billion pounds of harmful pesticides, fertilizers, fungicides and herbicides which are used to maintain grass”.


It increases playability.

As previously stated, natural grass can be greatly affected by the weather around it. When it rains too much, players either cannot play or are in danger or getting injured. However, if sports turf is installed, it creates a field that can be played any time of the year in any weather condition. Sports turf durability is much higher, therefore giving players year round access to their fields.


If you have more questions about sports turf and if it is the right choice for you, contact Commonwealth Sports Turf Services today!

many uses of turf

The Many Uses of Sports Turf

While some might think of sports turf as solely for a soccer or football stadium, that is not where the uses end! Sports turf is a versatile product as it is synthetic in nature and lasts for much longer than real grass. This allows for those that install it to save time and money while enjoying their field or any other areas where it might be installed.

There are many uses of sports turf that come with a multitude of advantages for the user. These advantages generally include that the owner will no longer have to water their grass or worry about pesticide use. They also will have much longer lasting product and not have to replace it as frequently.

Here, we will explain only some of the many uses of sports turf in more detail for you to consider.



In Gyms And Workout Areas

By installing sports turf in a gym or workout area, you can create a space that will be safely used for years. The turf helps for athletic shoe grip and helps to prevent injuries.


On Lawns Or In Gardens

Installing turf as a lawn is a great alternative to grass that needs to be watered. It is good for all areas, but more specifically ones that are having drought or water usage issues. No more need for pesticides either!


In Pet Areas And Kennels

By installing turf in the areas where your pet hangs out, you can eliminate odors, mud tracking, and constant dead grass. This is a useful trade that would last for years to come.

In Play Areas And On Playgrounds

Turf is also a great option for kids play areas for many of the same reasons as pet and gym areas. It creates a mud, water, and maintenance free space for kids to play on in any climate.

On Putting Greens And Put Put Greens

Turf can be used as an alternate for grass on putting and put put greens. Using turf has its advantages – a perfect put every time from every angle, as well as no water and pesticide upkeep.


While most may not think of this option, turf can be used in large outdoor events and parties. It creates a clean, uniform, and beautiful outdoor look that has easy clean up and can last for years in contrast to the upkeep of real grass.



If you would like to learn more about the many uses of sports turf check out Commonwealth Sports Turf Services today. Learn how you get sports turf installed wherever you may need it – and start living the easier life today!

shade stress

Sports Turf and Shade Stress Problems

Sports field turf needs sunlight to make its own food.

Warm season turfgrass needs at least twice as much sunlight as cool season turf. Without sufficient sunlight, the turf quickly begins to deteriorate and have shade stress problems. Shaded areas of sports fields are especially prone to this reaction because sunlight in the shade is low in the red wavelengths needed for energy production.

Turf growing in the shade of nearby trees or stadium structures reacts by lengthening, thinning in density, and becoming more succulent. It can’t fend off diseases as quickly as sunny turf, and is injured more easily. Weeds grow. The turf must compete for nutrients from nearby shade trees. The ground may begin to look bare or have drainage problems.

Some sports field owners have responded to this crisis with overwatering and overfertilizing, but what the shaded turf needs is half the water and half the fertilizer that the sunny turf receives.

What are some other options for turfgrass with shade stress?

Here are options offered by turf experts and turf management companies:

  • Raise mowing heights; even small amounts can significantly improve turf quality
  • Increase the budget for a fungicide to reduce diseases, algae, moss; use the fungicide more often
  • Reduce irrigation and fertilization in shady areas by 50%
  • Consider plant growth regulators (PGRs); multiple applications at low rates can decrease the elongation of turf shoots
  • Try supplemental lighting in small areas
  • Switch to shade-tolerant turf
  • Prune tree branches to at least 8-10 feet above ground
  • Remove selective trees
  • If all else fails, replace turf with shade tolerant plants, ground covers or mulches in the worst areas.

Another option is a shade study. Since the light that filters through the trees (or stadium roofs and adjacent buildings) is constantly changing by the day, season and time of day, a shade consultant can measure and analyze shaded areas.

Turf management companies like Commonwealth Sports Turf Services specialize in problem-solving these issues for field owners and organizers.

Even without the shade of nearby trees or structures, the weather impacts turf constantly through clouds, fog, smog, rain and looming global climate change. If the heavy rains of the first three weeks of May 2016 continue, Virginia will have its 11th rainiest May since the late 1800s.

Sports field owners are beginning to recognize the damage that global climate change can do to the turf on their playing fields, stadiums and golf courses.

So how should sports turf be managed when shade stress already affects the turf’s quality and predicted climate change exacerbates the stress? Article references are listed below for further reading. Consulting with a turf management firm will start the process of preparing for disastrous climate effects in the future.


Dr. R.R. Duncan, “Managing Turf With Reduced Light,” April 2001, http://sturf.lib.msu.edu/article/2001apr42.pdf

Dr. Wendy Gelernter and Dr. Larry J. Stowell, “Shade Versus Turfgrass: a No-Win Situation?” Golf Course Industry Magazine, Feb. 2008, http://www.golfcourseindustry.com/article/shade-versus-turfgrass–a-no-win-situation—research-/

“Growing Turf under Shaded Conditions,” UMass Extension, Center for Agriculture, https://ag.umass.edu/sites/ag.umass.edu/files/fact-sheets/pdf/growing_turf_shaded_conditions.pdf

Dr. John Sorochan, “Understanding, Assessing and Managing Shade Stress Problems.” Presented at Sustainable Turfgrass Management in Asia, Pattaya, 2014 http://www.files.asianturfgrass.com/2014_sorochan_shade.pdf

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/

National Weather Service – NOAA, www.weather.gov/akq/climatepns May 20, 2016



Managing Turfgrass under Heat Stress

Throughout Virginia, cool season turfgrasses experience problems associated with summer heat stress. Typically, heat stress is most acute on turfgrasses under conditions depicted by extremely high temperatures and humidity levels that persist for several months. The summer heat with high humid conditions comes with stress on how to keep grass intact and endure the harsh weather conditions. Turfgrass becomes more vulnerable to both biological and mechanical damage that accompanies the hot season.

The Virginia Extremes

According to Virginia‘s weather reports, daytime temperatures move up to 90 degrees and 70 degrees during the night. During this warm season, artificial turf fields are considered unsuitable for play since field surface temperatures levels during the day usually reach up to 150o F; levels that pose safety concerns to field users.

Sustained heat stress greatly increases soil temperatures; thus, affecting root health, growth and function. Less damage is experienced to the roots during high spring temperatures since the soil temperature is usually cool. However, as summer reaches, the night temperatures become less cooling on the soil, resulting in a significant soil temperature rise.

High soil temperatures cause reduced root production, minimal new roots production, faster maturation and die back of the roots. Eventually, the turf thins and become more spindly.

Measures Taken to Curb Heat Stress

Managing Special Events on Turfgrass (2)

It is indeed a challenge to maintain turfgrass under heat stress.However, that does not mean that it can’t be managed. The following tips are associated with alleviating most of the problems that accompany excessive heat:

  1. Mowing heights: For the warm season, cut the grass to 1.5 to 2 inches. Taller mowed turf typically thrives compared to grasses cut at heights that are ideal only in optimal growth periods. Interchange mowing practice and rolling out greens with consideration to skipping a day if the schedule of play allows.
  2. Watering modes: Watering to supply enough soil moisture, but avoid over-irrigating since the saturated soil will result in rapid weakening of the turfgrass. With more rain during early summer, water 1 to 1.5 inches per week taking two different days. If the turf shows stress due to lack of water, field managers should water the entire green using the overhead sprinklers.
  3. Aerify using smaller tines: A superintended should use smaller tines when gasifying if the putting surface is sealed since the ones with larger diameters may penetrate deeply removing even parts of a soil core.
  4. Little amounts of fertilizer: Small doses of fertilizer should be applied with observation being done before fertilizing again.
  5. Monitoring traffic patterns to minimize stress on the turfgrass.
  6. Mower Selection. During the heat stress period, managers need to consider switching from a triplex unit to a walking greens mower or a solid roller to minimize wear stress when recovery of shoot growth is compromised by heat stress.

Better turfgrass during summer

From golf owners to superintends, it should be known that maintaining turfgrass during summer is still a challenge. Common practices like mowing and irrigation either before or during summer make turf perform better.

Irregular irrigation during spring gives room for roots to grow and preparation is also brought for the summer by leveling cooling process. When the weather is hot, irrigating frequently and light is essential since transpiration is high. What is prohibited is over-irrigation. Moderating the counter on some of the effects of hot weather, keeping the right measures will see the turf become healthy to survive the summer season.