That’s right. Just as you don’t wait for the first cold spell to fix the heating system, the off season is a great time to tune-up an irrigation system.
Yes , summer is the irrigation season, and the time most of us are busy just trying to keep up with depleting soil moisture. The off season affords the time to make the adjustments that will increase sprinkler performance when the heat is on.
One good practice is to check for correct sprinkler height. Low sprinkler heads cannot pop-up high enough to clear the grass blades, disrupting the spray patterns and resulting in uneven coverage and poor efficiency. Raising the head to the ‘top of grade’ will help achieve head to head coverage and help eliminate those annoying brown areas. The process is usually a simple matter of raising the swing joint below and, or adding a short nipple at the base. Tip: consider replacing an older head with a new longer body head to raise the height. For example changing a 4” pop up to a 6” pop up. Other advantages with new heads include fresh, strong seals around the stem to prevent leaks and better arc adjustment capability.
Other quick fixes while you are at the head include re-aligning tilted heads back to vertical and checking for clogged or damaged nozzles. You may even have time for some of the nozzle sizing adjustment you’ve always wanted to try to perfect your system.
These “Tips” are available on our website on the “Resource Page”
Fall over-seeding The heavy rains which we are experiencing will probably increase the wear problems that are inevitable on many of the soil based fields. Slice-seeding and or broadcasting seed in the thin areas and letting the players work it into the soil will pay big dividends for you. In a prior Tip called “Winter seeding turf blends” we mention the intermediate ryegrass blends that germinate in cooler temperatures, however for this month the normal turf type ryegrasses will be very effective.
Ideal time to fertilize your field. This is the ideal time to fertilize your sports field – if you haven’t already done so. The soil temperature is still warm enough to give the fertilizer maximum effectiveness. The fertilizer you apply should be designed to encourage the root development you need throughout the cool season. By so doing – giving you the assurance healthier turf next spring.
These “Tips” are available on website on the “Resource Page”
Please note: On our “Resource page” we have added two Bulletins – both are a cooperative effort of Oregon State University, Washington State University and University of Idaho. They are: Construction of Sand-based, Natural Grass Athletic Fields and Maintaining Sand-Based Natural Grass Athletic Fields. You should find both of these bulletins very helpful.
There are certain timely practices that we have found that make managing both turf grass and synthetic fields easier and produce favorable results. We are sending these “Tips” out throughout the season and try to match the season with the practices. If you have others on your staff that you would like to receive these “Tips” please contact us through my email.
The infill provides the cushioning of your synthetic field. The surface hardness ( measured by Gmax ) is almost always a direct correlation of your infill levels. The infill levels should be measured regularly and compared to the manufacturer’ s recommendations. How much rubber do you need? As a rule – ½ pound of rubber per sq ft. equates to approximately ¼” of infill per sq ft. For example if an 80,000 sq ft. field is low by an average of ¼” – it will take approximately 40,000 lbs or 20 super sacks of material. It is not recommended that you apply more than 6-10 sacks at any one time – so it may take several applications to get the needed rubber down. Please avoid putting the rubber down in wet conditions or you will have a mess.
In an earlier “Tip” we discussed Bill Bug damage prevention. Unfortunately we are now observing either white grub damage or bill bug larve damage in many fields in Western Oregon. If you have been irrigating adequately and you are suspect that you have the problem – grab the turf in a dry spot and it will come up in your hand with no roots. You may even be able to see the white grubs or bill bug larve present at the tear line. If the damage is still spotty there is probably time to treat the problem. The internet is an ideal place to see pictures of this type of damage.
The best time to work on your infield (baseball and softball) skinned area is now . The months of August and September typically have good weather with little play so that you can get work done, use the field for fall ball, and avoid the significant dangers of an overly soft field in the spring. Following the renovation the first few rains (and irrigation cycles) will still cause the field to become soft (and in most cases unplayable). However, the winter rains will help settle the field for play in the spring. You will still want to do a field drag and topdressing in the spring to get the field in “game shape” but the soil disturbance should ideally be kept to a minimum.
Ideal time to fertilize your field This is the ideal time to fertilize your sports field – if you haven’t already done so. The soil temperature is still warm enough to give the fertilizer maximum effectiveness. The fertilizer you apply should be designed to encourage root the development you need throughout the cool season. By so doing – giving you a better chance for a healthier turf next spring.
Fall over-seeding The heavy rains which we are experiencing will probably increase the wear problems that are inevitable on many of the soil based fields. Broadcasting seed in the thin areas and letting the players work it into the soil will pay big dividends for you. In a later “tip” we will be emphasizing the use the intermediate ryegrasses which germinate at cooler temperatures for the final over-seeding of the year but for this month your normal turf type ryegrasses will be very effective.
During Fall sports – if at all possible- every week broadcast seed in the heavily worn areas of your fields. Some soccer clubs give their goalies a cup full of seed to broadcast after each practice session. The players will work it into the soil and when the moisture opportunities are right the seed will germinate. In fall the seed is helped more with “ Mother Nature” than any other time of year – so use her to your advantage.
Apply that fall application of fertilizer now – if you haven’t done so already. It is paramount to have a soil test done once a year to determine the best utilization of your dollars when purchasing fertilizers. Once you have determined what you need then match the season with the fertilizer. If you are only able to apply one application of fertilizer annually then the Fall is the absolute best time to apply it. Be sure you are supplying the grass plant with the necessary nutrients to build its root-system for the next season. If you are able to apply two applications then Fall first and Spring second. More than two per year then space the third, fourth and fifth etc applications between the Spring and Fall. Budget constraints are so intense in some cases that one or two applications have become a reality – which are better than nothing – but make managing sports turf extremely difficult.
Last year I made reference to the colder temperature germinating ryegrass varieties and how effective they were. I am going to put further emphasis on this fact. We are watching some of these varieties germinate well into December. If you were to go on the belief that October 15th was the cutoff date for seeding you would be missing out on one very effective tool in the field manager’s arsenal. Seed is relatively inexpensive and to let bare areas in your field remain so all winter, without trying to encourage turf cover, will no doubt give you a stand of annual bluegrass – which is going backwards. So call your seed resource person and have them bring you up to speed on these cooler temperature germinating ryegrasses. The only drawback to seeding in the monsoon season is “not” rotting seed but seed going “down-stream”. It is for this reason that you want any seeding that is done to be pushed into the soil. Let the players do this with their cleats or again find a way to press it into the soil. I am well aware the freezing cold can damage some of the newly germinated seeds but surprising enough we still see good results when it thaws in the spring. You will be pleasantly encouraged with the results.
In the Northwest we are approaching the ideal time of year to plant grass seed if you are intending to get as much help from Mother Nature as possible. Early Fall offers a period of time when the temperatures and precipitation are not in the extremes. (except this week) In general it is the easiest time to establish turf without a great deal of effort.
After seed bed preparation and seeding – the next most important operation is rolling the seed. This is often treated lightly when in all reality it is extremely important. The seed needs to be placed in tight contact with the soil or growing medium in order to keep the moisture that is present moving freely between the soil particle and the seed – otherwise the seeds will dry out prematurely and germination will be limited.
A roller I found to be very effective was not actually a roller but the knobby tires that are found on many ATV’s(all terrain vehicles). The seed is pressed down by the knobby tread and the indentation left by the tread helps hold the moisture. You have fun running the ATV and it really works well.
For the grass plant – if you only had one thing you could provide for the whole year – besides water and fertilizer – it should be aeration. After a wet spring and heavy foot traffic the compactions is severe and introducing air into the root zone by removing a soil core makes it possible to go for another season. It is like giving the turf a jump start. The aeration has given the roots the oxygen they need to thrive. By aerating as early as practical in the Spring you are giving the turf the best shot at staying playable for the balance of the season.
The soil test is one of the best money savings tools that is available to those involved in managing turf grass sports fields. All of us who are involved in maintaining turf grass sports fields are well aware of the necessity of fertilizer. Unfortunately, this is often the weakest link in the maintenance program. In many cases, quantity is often mistaken for choosing the right nutrients to get the best result for the amount applied. If the proper balance of nutrients is not available to the grass plant – it will not have a fighting chance of surviving the tremendous traffic demands. Furthermore, a person may be applying fertilizer that has only limited uptake by the plant because the soil may be too acetic or basic. The soil test will show the soil ph often an application of lime to correct the soil ph will save you an additional application of fertilizer. Ideally, a ph ranging from 6.2-6.4 seems the best range of microbial health and nutrient availability.
It is wise to use the same laboratory every time you make a soil test. The data is easier to compare if it is in the same form year after year. The initial soil test that you take will be the benchmark from where you assess your progress. Lastly, when taking the samples to be tested it is important that you keep the depth to the effective root zone of the plant. This is usually no deeper than 4″. The sample you submit should contain soil from at least 5 places across the field.
If you would like to further discuss these comments, please give us a call
@ 503-692-1195, and ask for Dick @ ext 2 or Damon @ext 6.
This is a very good question. The purpose of deep tine aeration on both sand and soil based fields is to expand the root zone by promoting better water penetration through the soil profile. On sand based fields it will break up a cemented sand condition and better promote free drainage. In soil based fields it permits the water to penetrate through a surface compacted layer usually 4-8″ deep beneath the playing surface and then move into the sub soil. In most cases the deep tine work will extend the playing season (earlier in the spring and later in the fall) but is not the “panacea” for full winter play. If the field is built on a heavily compacted base which is generally deeper than 12″- it is possible that the deep tine aeration work is of little use and that installing a drainage system will be the best answer. When you are using a solid tine to fracture the soil are you actually relieving compaction? Probably not. We think of relieving compaction when actual soil is removed with a coring tine. It is possible to core with a 1″ tine to a depth of 10″. Deep coring is readily available and will be discussed in a later article. Please keep in mind the fall over-seeding that was addressed in the October “Tips” article. You can still have seed germinating well into November with some of the new cold temperature germinating ryegrasses.
If you would like to further discuss these comments, please give us a call :
@ 503-692-1195, and ask for Dick @ ext 2 or Damon @ext 6.
We are into the heavy play season for the football and soccer fields. Ideally the turf you have in place will make it through the season. However, this is not likely where it is not possible to regulate the play. Therefore consider broadcasting seed in the thinner areas of the fields on a weekly basis through out the fall. Let the players press the seed into the soil with their shoes. As the season progresses and the night temperatures dip into the 40â€™s consider using some of the new cool temperature germinating turf grass varieties. We have seen these grasses germinate as late as early December (contact your seed supplier and request information on these varieties). In the late fall it is our practice to uses these low temperature germinating varieties in conjunction with our normal seed. In the spring you will be surprised at the results verses doing nothing and having very thin turf.