School’s back in session and the weather is starting to cool — it’s finally fall, and that means it's time for fall sports, like football, lacrosse and soccer. We compiled tips for school and city sports field managers to help you keep your fields game-ready throughout the season!
Proper irrigation can be a game changer
Before the competition begins, walk the field and make sure irrigation heads are at a safe level, lowering heads that are too high and a hazard. Also, be sure to check that the timers are set correctly. Having your irrigation system come on in the fourth quarter of a football game would be embarrassing.
Another key piece of advice: never play on a dry field. Traffic damages the crown of the plant and a dry field is a hard field. A field with perfect moisture should have some scattered, light divots after a game.
Start practicing with the irrigation before the season starts to know when and how much to irrigate, so you have the perfect moisture in the field when the lights turn on for a Friday night home game. Don’t forget to anticipate any weather events that could affect moisture. If rain is eminent, hold off on the water and let Mother Nature work for you.
Prep for field painting needs
Paint spraying equipment should be taken out of storage and tested before that first painting day. Put in fresh gasoline and make a mock paint line in an inconspicuous place to make sure nothing is clogged up.
After you’re done painting, I recommend always running clean water through airless sprayers until it comes out clear and store the machine with water in the tank. It’s best not to put a dry paint machine in storage. Also, always keep plenty of paint on hand—painting day is not the time to find out you are out of paint. You can always pick up paint from your local Ewing branch, or have it delivered.
Work overseeding into the season
Even sports fields need to overseed, and often that happens after the season already started. Plan ahead for overseeding, as soon as game schedules come out. Find the week of lightest play during the timeframe you need to overseed. Be prepared and purchase quality seed in advance of that week so you can have it on hand and ready to go when the team’s away.
Also in advance, make sure the spreader is in tip-top shape. When applying seed, spread it in at least two directions to eliminate streaks. Also, make sure your irrigation has good coverage prior to planting to help with germination. Without proper watering and moisture control, the seed won’t come up and the field will look uneven.
Keep artificial turf game-ready
For artificial turf fields, constantly check for seam tears and wrinkles and make any necessary repairs. Fields should have a G-Max test done and recorded each year to ensure player safety against hard fields. These fields should be groomed, swept and a magnet pulled over them every week during the season to pick up any metal. Don’t forget to clean the artificial turf often with a cleaner like Kochek’s Shokray Blu Pellet Synthetic Turf Cleaner.
It’s a long game
Most of all, keep fields in great conditions year-round. Too many times when school is out for the summer, we all go into vacation mode. Be sure to keep enough employees around to mow, fertilize, irrigate, etc. throughout the off seasons.