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!

Spring is around the corner Preparing Baseball Fields

Spring is Around the Corner: Preparing Baseball Fields

Spring is a great time of year that many enjoy for various reasons! After a lot of months of the winter season it’s a great time one of the best past-times; spring baseball! Baseball season is approaching and it’s the absolute best time to get the field together for the new season.

Preparing Baseball Fields

Spring is around the corner Preparing Baseball Fields1The winter season can be a little tough on the baseball field… one thing is for certain, the baseball field plays a big roll in the awesome sport and you want to make sure that it’s just right when the time comes for playing on it. So, what exactly do you need to do to prepare your field for the baseball season? There are a few key things that everyone needs to make sure they do at the end of winter so their fields are right and ready for the spring baseball season.

Rolling out the field is an important step that needs to be done. During the winter months the field takes on a lot of different elements: there’s frost, snow and then melting snow. All of these elements can take a toll on the field and can cause a lot of damage if it isn’t taken care of properly. So, rolling out the field is done with a rolling machine… it’s making sure the surface is smooth and ensuring the field will be at a better quality so playing is done a lot easier. The best time to roll out the field is when it’s slightly moist; you don’t want it to be too wet or saturated with moisture because it could cause more damage to the field than you would like.

Baseball Season is Coming

Spring is Around the Corner: Preparing Baseball FieldsAnother area in which you want to address before the spring baseball season starts is the wear and tear that has occurred on the baseball field. The off-season is the best time to do any renovations or restorations to the field that may need to be done. Throughout the season there is a lot of damage that may occur to the field and you don’t want to start a new season with the same problem areas. So, you want to fix any problem areas that you will find on the field during the offseason; the most affected areas that you will generally find an issue on the field is the area in front of the pitcher’s mound, near and around the arc and alongside the baselines.

Watering the field is also an important step when you are preparing for the new season. Watering the field keeps the field having the beautiful green color and it also keeps it healthy. A healthy field is very important to a great season. But, you want to be careful… you don’t want to water the field too much. You may have to check the field to make sure the water is getting down to the depth of the roots, but you don’t want it to be any runoff while you’re watering.

You also want to make sure you mow the lawn correctly. This is considered an art form. Mowing the lawn doesn’t just give it a nice look; it also ensures that the lawn is healthy. When you’re first entering the spring season the lawn should be cut really low… this is done so the grass can be open and ready for a healthy regrowth from the beautiful sun. Once the regrowth process is complete you want to get the right height of the lawn and mow it 3-4 times a week. This will give you the healthiest grass and will have you ready for the spring season.

 

Crabgrass Pre-emergent Products

Crabgrass Pre-emergent Products

Crabgrass is a common, albeit annoying, problem. Luckily, because it’s so common, there are a number of remedies that will work quickly and efficiently. Whether it’s a soccer field, baseball field or golf course, keeping crabgrass at bay should be a top priority for both field owners and maintenance workers.

Identifying Crabgrass

Crabgrass Pre-emergent Products1Because crabgrass has the ability to adapt to changing environments, it can be difficult to identify. It starts out as a seedling and resembles a small corn plant. The leaf blades are about the same width as a pencil. The blades then angle out, but new stems continue to grow from the center. This gives it a star-like appearance. As the stems get larger they can fall to the ground and can spread quite easily. Ultimately, this creates a mass of thick weed and will continue to grow until it is mowed.

Chemical Application

There are a number of store-bought chemical applications that can be used to kill crabgrass and prevent it from coming back. It’s extremely important to read labels carefully and use the recommended mix of product vs. water. A mixture that is too weak will not be as effective. Price should also be a consideration. The products that work extremely well are usually more expensive. Look for ingredients such as prodiamine, dithiopyr or pendimethalin. Some products can be used to both kill crabgrass and germinate grass, saving time and money.

Organic Application

To meet consumer demand, there are a number of brand-name products that are considered organic and environmentally friendly. These will be clearly displayed on the package. A popular ‘home brew’ method of killing crabgrass involves using baking soda, mixed with water. This may work on small fields, but may be an inconvenience for larger areas. Borax should never be used to kill crabgrass, because it could cause damage to the soil and grass.

When to Apply

When it comes to crabgrass pre-emergent products, timing is everything. It’s important to apply treatment before seeds have set; seeds can keep growing for up to 3 years in soil. Applications that are made too late will not kill all of the seeds; applications made too early will not affect the crabgrass at all. Generally, spring is the best time to apply pre-emergent products, but it may depend on your specific area and climate.

For large fields and warm climates, it may be necessary to apply pre-emergent products more than once a season. Industry professionals can be consulted on when and how often to apply these products.

 

Gearing up for 2015 Winter Maintenance

Gearing up for 2015 Winter Maintenance

Winter is coming. Well, technically it’s mere days away, and that means those beautiful green fields will stop actively growing and turn winter pale.

Late winter and early spring growing conditions are a bad time for standard field maintenance practices. That means gearing up for 2015 winter maintenance should happen now. As with most things in life, the best way to approach the problem is with a plan. In this case, a Winter Field Maintenance Plan or WMP.

The best time to formulate a WMP is in the fall because your standard field maintenance care strategy during the winter is as effective as seeding arid soil. Scheduling field maintenance sufficiently early is critical to maintaining turf quality for next season’s games.

Here are six tried and tested methods to incorporate in a WMP that would make gearing up for 2015 winter maintenance less of a headache.

Soil Study and Fertilizing

Gearing up for 2015 Winter MaintenanceCool season grasses need sufficient fertilizing during the fall period to maintain healthy growth and to enable recovery from wear. Proper fertilization increases a turf’s chance during the winter by keeping a healthy amount of turf cover intact.

Commonwealth Sports Turf Services suggest a properly executed soil study before developing a fertilization program. The study determines the nutrient composition of the underlying growing medium and provides an analysis of where the soil deficiencies lie.

When we undertake a soil study, we produce a discovery document that shows through graphical representation the state of the tested soil and what it needs and how much. For optimum results, an annual study is needed to continuously monitor your soil integrity.

Aeration and Core-Redistribution

Periodic core aeration on heavily-trafficked areas during the optimum growth stage is essential. The reason for this is that core cultivation relieves severe soil compaction which in turn prevents damage to the soil profile, like hardening the playing surface. It also ensures more water and oxygen and nutrients are absorbed by the root zone.

Mixing soil with thatch allows for speedy breakdown of organic matter, but before applying topdressing, core-redistribution via turf sweeper would help redistribute cores into problem areas and because they are packed with viable nutrients and roots, they should begin growing immediately.

Verticutting

Thatch builds up over time and prevents oxygen and nutrients from reaching the roots. By removing thatch, space is made for grass to grow properly and increases drainage potential.

Once you’ve removed excess thatch, Commonwealth Sports Turf Services recommend you use a VersaVac machine to vacuum the playing surface so that all debris is removed.

Overseeding

Plants growing from seed in the fall commonly have a more mature root and shoot system. That is, of course, before the onslaught of summer pests and environmental stresses. Still, maintaining your turf’s integrity, especially under heavy traffic, is a challenge.

One strategy being used with much success is seed banking, i.e. applying seed routinely throughout the fall playing season. It not only helps your turf maintains its green cover during the playing season but also helps with recovery off-season.

Turf Blankets

Turf Blankets can extend color and playability of turf to at least six weeks in the fall and is an important field maintenance strategy. It enhances seedling development and sod-rooting on newly planted fields during the winter and protect turf grasses from frost damage. You should be mindful, though, of warm-season diseases like Rhizoctonia blight that could develop under a turf blanket during the winter.

No plan is foolproof of course, but with a bit of effort and attention to detail, a maintenance plan will ensure your sports field remains healthy and beautiful during the winter.

 

Turf Maintenance For Virginia's December Weather

Turf Maintenance For Virginia’s December Weather

In recent years, Virginia has seen record high December temperatures followed by sharp cold snaps. These drops in temperature can severely damage or even kill turfgrass, so it is important that groundskeepers remain vigilant and make appropriate maintenance decisions. Dealing effectively will frost and ice will ensure that your turf has regrowth in spring.

Early Preparation

Turf Maintenance For Virginia's December WeatherSome of the preparation you did in October may have to be repeated if December remains warmer than usual. Check conditions and make sure the following factors are in place.

Mowing: It is important to keep cutting grass until it stops growing. If your grass is still getting higher, you need to take out the mower. In most cases, it is best not to cut lower than three inches or frost damage and surface desiccation will be a threat.

Drainage: If funds permit, seek professional advice to improve drainage surfaces. Alternatively, cut small holes in areas with poor drainage and fill them with gravel or sand to keep water away from the surface.

Shade: Winterkill is more likely to affect less healthy turfgrass such as that which grows in shady areas. Thin out tree canopies to improve sunlight penetration.

Frosty Reception

Turf Maintenance For Virginia’s December WeatherA blanket of snow allows oxygen to reach the turfgrass below. It also protects the grass plant from wind damage. Frost and ice are the real enemies of turfgrass in winter. These restrict oxygen availability and greatly increase chances of winterkill. Here are some ways to minimise damage.

  • Do not allow foot or vehicle traffic on frosted or icy surfaces. Putting pressure on these surfaces causes ice crystals to puncture grass cells and kill the blades. A further problem occurs when the top layer of soil thaws and water collects in the depressions. Therefore, it is better to keep parks and golf courses closed till later in the day when frost has melted.
  • Consider whether or not a cover is useful for your park, golf course or sporting field. Permeable covers provide some protection in low temperatures and are best used if a lengthy ice cover is not expected. Impermeable covers protect from ice cover damage, but need to be tucked down tightly. This prevents oxygen exchange, so it’s important to vent them regularly.

Looking Ahead

December is the crucial month in determining whether or not your turfgrass will survive until spring. Check the weather forecasts, consult your turfgrass expert and make key decisions based on the conditions that are emerging. Come spring, your chances of seeing healthy grass will have greatly increased.

 

When to keep Field Maintenance In House and when to hire a Pro

When to keep Field Maintenance In House and when to hire a Pro

Introduction

A well-maintained field translates into good performance. Proper field maintenance requires money, time, and expertise. For most schools, athletics field managers, and golf course owners, in-house maintenance is sufficient because it is less demanding in terms of money and expertise. However, hiring pros to maintain fields should not be overlooked. Below is a guideline on when to keep field maintenance in-house and when to hire a pro.

When to keep field maintenance in-house and when to hire a pro

When to keep Field Maintenance In House and when to hire a ProIn-house maintenance can be economical as compared to hiring pros. However, the main barrier is the equipment required to keep the field in good shape. Depending on the tools your company or school has, the cost of buying equipment may range from $30,000 to $90,000. This is a lot of money especially for schools to spend at a go. Thus, hiring pros who already have the expertise and equipment is always a viable option. However, if the in-house department has enough funds to purchase the equipment, the initial investment saves a great deal of resources that could have been used to hire pros now and then.

Whether to consider in-house or pro field conservation, depends on your budget. If you are working on a tight budget, your level of conservation will modest. For example, municipalities are funded by the department of public works. Therefore, municipality workers can maintain the fields but they should hire pros to offer their expertise once in a while.

Moreover, when working on a budget, you can hire pros to concentrate on various elements. Though it may be cheaper to go for a complete package, you should consider what you have. If your resources can only cater for various elements, direct them to seasonal field maintenance that may require specialized equipment and proficiency.

When to keep Field Maintenance In House and when to hire a ProSynthetic turf fields are becoming common in Virginia. They have particular maintenance requirements that must be adhered to. Thus, for such installations, a workable field maintenance plan should be considered, and pros must be hired to offer expertise guidance and equipment that schools and companies may lack. They undertake cultural practices and professional mowing.

It is crucial to have a permanent field contractor that you can rely on when unexpected field problems occur. You may have an annual field aeration and control contract but when a fungus problem occurs, they should be in a position to assist professionally. The in-house crew should handle less intensive conservation tasks such as lining and mowing.

Conclusion

The decision to hire a pro or maintain in-house field maintenance is never easy. You must understand your fields’ conservation requirements, resources, and purpose to make the right decision. Do thorough research before hiring pro field maintainers. If you prefer to keep things in-house, consider training your staff members on how to keep the fields well maintained.

Groundskeepers must Strive for Peak Irrigation Efficiency for Turfgrass

Groundskeepers must Strive for Peak Irrigation Efficiency for Turfgrass

Groundskeepers must Strive for Peak Irrigation Efficiency for Turfgrass

There is science behind turfgrass irrigation. However, before we discuss about peak irrigation efficiency, it is important you understand the factors that can affect the irrigation program.

Like majority of plants, turfgrass too absorbs water mainly through its root system. After using the water, the remaining (which forms the majority) is released into the atmosphere through transpiration. The growth of turfgrass is adversely affected if transpiration is higher than absorption of water. Transpiration in turfgrass is dependent on temperature, wind, humidity and light. Hence, to plan an efficient irrigation program, groundskeepers have to take into consideration these factors.

Inefficient Irrigation Can Wreak Havoc

Groundskeepers must Strive for Peak Irrigation Efficiency for TurfgrassIf your irrigation program for turfgrass is inefficient, it will result in wastage of water which is a cause for concern. In addition, it makes the turf more prone to weeds and diseases. Inefficient irrigation programs can also make other management practices, such as fertilization, mowing, verticutting, pest control and aeration, less effective.

In Richmond, VA, the soil conditions are diverse even if climatic factors are the same. Also, Hence, a single recommendation for an efficient irrigation program for turfgrass is next to impossible. Groundskeepers have to customize the program based on the soil and climatic conditions, the use of the turf and the kind of turf.

Creating an Efficient Peak Irrigation Program for Turfgrass

To strive for peak irrigation efficiency for turfgrass, groundskeepers would have to resort to the following:

  1. Soil Study: Every soil bed is unique and contains different levels of nutrients. By carefully analyzing the soil and understanding its nutrient levels, can help you plan for the maintenance of the turf, which includes irrigation as well. The type of soil also has an impact on the root depth of the turf. The depth will govern the amount of water the grass requires. Grassroots will penetrate deeper in sandy soil compared to clay soil.
  2. Soil Aeration: It is natural for soil to get compact which affects the soil’s water absorption ability. This, in turn, affects the growth and performance of the soil. Soil aeration usually is done during off-season as regular use of the turf causes compaction of the soil.
  3. Verticutting: To improve turf health and proper absorption of water and nutrients, it is important to remove excess growth of blades. This ensures optimal drainage and also enhances performance and aesthetics of the grass.

Groundskeepers must Strive for Peak Irrigation Efficiency for TurfgrassIrrigation efficiency for turf is governed by several factors. It is important for groundskeepers to have complete understanding of the relationship between soil, turf and water to create an efficient and effective irrigation program. As a groundskeeper, you should be well-versed in the following:

  • Effect of climate and soil on how the turf will utilize the water
  • The role water plays in the growth of turf
  • Genetic characteristics of the turf. Low tolerance grass requires more care compared to high tolerance turf

It is best to hire a turf-maintenance professional, who has the knowledge and experience, to devise a turf-specific irrigation program. Commonwealth Sports Turf has been involved in maintaining sports since 2003 across Richmond, Virginia. With more than 31 years of experience in the sports turf, Commonwealth Sports Turf has perfected the science of growing healthy and superior turf in any type of sports environment. This is possible because of the hard work and vision of Keith Kitchen, who founded Commonwealth Sports Turf.

5 Important Off-season Turf Maintenance Strategies

5 Important Off-season Turf Maintenance Strategies

During the off-season when sports arenas are not being used, the turf on which they play and practice needs to be maintained and managed. The purpose of turf maintenance is to prepare the sport pitch for use when the season is back on. It is also essential, to facilitate the recovery of the turf.

There are a number of factors that professionals consider when determining what methods to use in off-season turf maintenance. These include:

  • How frequently the turf is used during the on-season
  • Any activities for which the turf is needed during the off-season
  • The type of grass planted on the turf

The type of grass is especially important because it determines a number of other factors such as the frequency with which the professionals will mow, irrigate, and fertilize the grass. When maintaining turf during the off-season, the five most important strategies are:

1. Minimizing Pests

Effectively managing and minimizing pests is one of the main goals in turf maintenance. Professionals are especially keen on this, because it does no good to have a beautiful turf that is unhealthy and pest-ridden. In such a case, the beauty of the turf is extremely short-lived as pests set out to attack the grass. Proper maintenance of the turf helps to reduce the population and occurrence of pests on the turf, which in turn reduces the need for extreme application of chemicals.

2. Airing the Soil

5 Important Off-season Turf Maintenance StrategiesExposing the soil to air is essential to maintain your turf; in order to reduce its compact nature and enhance the movement of water and air into the soil. This can only be done during the off-season because it is the prolonged use of the turf that further enhances compacting in the soil.

3. Irrigating

During the dry months of the year, it is necessary for the grass to be irrigated in order to maintain its green, healthy appearance. When irrigating the grass, the professional considers factors such as the type and condition of the soil, the kind of grass, and the utility of the turf.

4. Mowing

Even when the turf is not in constant use, it is important to mow it regularly. The height to which it is maintained depends on the sport for which the turf is intended. For instance, the turf on a golf pitch is considerably shorter than that needed for a football field. A number of environmental conditions determine how fast the grass grows, in addition to other factors like the type of grass and soil.

5. Fertilizing

5 Important Off-season Turf Maintenance StrategiesIn order for the grass to grow strong, healthy and thick, the professional needs to apply fertilizer to the turf as part of the turf maintenance procedure. Professional service providers are skilled and equipped in choosing the best fertilizer for the specific turf. They consider the nutrients in the fertilizer, as well as the nutrients that the grass needs. Once the fertilizer is applied to the turf, the grass remains healthy for a year in most cases.

As a general guideline, if the grass has a low tolerance, it is likely to be in a poorer state as the season closes, which will consequently require the professional to invest more time, care and resources to the turf. On the other hand, if the grass has a high tolerance, it will still be in fair condition as off-season begins, and the turf-maintenance professionals can adjust their technique accordingly.

Construction/Renovation of Athletic Fields

Construction/Renovation of Athletic Fields

When it comes to the construction or renovation of athletic fields, there is much to consider. Factors such as budget and what types of sports and athletic events will be held there will determine what types of field and turf are suitable.

Athletic field construction and renovation is a specialized profession. The contractor must be experienced and knowledgeable about modern techniques, materials and surfaces available for sporting fields today.

Commonwealth Sports Turf has been in business since 2003, and has a total of more than 31 years in the industry.

They specialize in taking care of the details when it comes to field and turf maintenance. Their dedication to quality has given them the opportunity to care for the stadium turf at the University of Phoenix, where perfection is essential.

Different Types of Fields Require Different Types of Turf.

Construction/Renovation of Athletic FieldsBy using state of the art equipment and conducting detailed research that includes an in-depth soil analysis; top field and turf specialists can ensure that every playing surface gets proper care based on what the field will used for.

Different sporting activities require different types of field and turf. Baseball fields use turf that allows the ball to roll unhindered while football fields don’t have that requirement.

Instead they may use a natural grass because the surface is cooler than artificial turf and has a higher aesthetic appeal. The surface area provided by natural grass is also safer for the athletes and usually leads to fewer injuries than artificial turf and it is softer as well.

Field and turf specialists know that natural turf isn’t as durable as artificial turf but that it can perform well with proper maintenance. While artificial grass makes for a very durable turf that can stand up to rough treatment better than natural grass and it is resistant to harsh weather conditions.

Renovation of Athletic Fields

The overuse of sports turf can push its limits to recover but a reputable turf care company can oversee the care of athletic fields and will advise on the needed maintenance to insure a quality surface for any sporting facility.

There comes a point in time when even a well kept ball field needs turf repair. Mother-nature is known to pull surprises and no one can control the weather. Outfields may need new sod or maybe an area needs seeding.

Natural grass can be susceptible to diseases and pests, they need professional care and thoughtfully applied herbicides and pesticides.

A playing field should be level and well drained no matter what sport is played there.

Constructing or renovating athletic fields is no joke. Before making any decisions, get the advice of an experienced professional. The field and turf won’t be the only thing looking pretty, you will to.