Spring Field Maintenance Tips

March 30, 2019

It's officially spring, and even in the Midwest and Northeast, there are signs of spring-like weather, so all teams can finally be practicing and playing outdoors. In many parts of the country, the playing fields at schools are thawing out and in need of attention before they are going to be used non-stop for practices and games.

In an article for the the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA), Thomas Serensits of Penn State University, provided many tips for athletic departments to follow in the spring. Here are many of his suggestions outlined in the article (check the article to see all of the spring field maintenance tips):

• Do a thorough walk-through of your fields. “Identify potential problem areas like high wear areas, and on bermudagrass fields, look for areas affected by winterkill and spring dead spot. Be sure to give extra attention to these areas so they can recover quickly,” Serensits writes.

• Seed or sod high-wear areas as well as sections of the field that were damaged during the winter.

• Fill in low areas with sand or soil to prevent puddles from forming and seed or sod them. If you fix the problems now, you won’t be battling them all year long.

Take a soil sample and have it tested. Serensits says to then send it to a local testing facility—most universities will test your soil. “You will get a report back with fertilizer recommendations that you can use to set up your fertilizer program. You will also find out if you need to correct your soil pH,” he writes.

• Be sure to have all equipment, seed, and fertilizers test and ready go.

• Understand the reality of weather patterns and this time of the year and prepare for heavy spring rains. Serensits says to have tarps for your baseball and softball fields—and don't play on the fields if there's excess water.

• Prepare your irrigation system. Once you charge the system, check for broken heads and leaky pipes that need to be repaired.

• Start your mowing season as soon as the turf begins to grow, and be sure to use sharp blades to ensure a clean cut.

• Mow frequently. Serensits writes, “You will improve the density of your turf with more frequent mowings and you will not leave unsightly clumps of grass behind.”

• For cool-season grasses: When temperatures are consistently in the 50’s, you should fertilize the fields for to ensure healthy growth and development. “Springtime fertilization can help your field recover from fall damage as well as prepare the turf for the upcoming season,” Serensits writes.

• For Bermudagrass: Serensits advises that it's important to not “push the Bermudagrass too soon with fertilizer because if the weather turns cold, there is an increased risk of cold temperature injury.”

• Follow the recommendations resulting from the soil test report provided by the testing facility, to provide your turf with the required amounts of nutrients as instructed in the report. Serensits points out

that having a soil test conducted and getting instructions for applying nutrients, you are not overly adding field additions—helping the environment and saving you money.

Refer to the full article to see all of the helpful tips.

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