Grass is not always greener on school athletic fields

Grass is not always greener on school athletic fields

Costs vary widely based on region, altitude and frequency of use

There are few universal answers to maintaining natural-grass athletic fields. The specifics and the costs vary widely based on region, altitude, frequency of use and the type of grass under the cleats.

The greatest effect on the quality of grass is mowing, says Matt Wimer, general manager of Hummer Sports Turf in Pennsylvania. “You need to be mowing at the right height, mowing with a sharp blade, and mowing often enough. Mowing improperly can cause stress on your grass, which leads to increased disease, weeds and other things that you’re trying to prevent.”

Other big mistakes are incorrect irrigation and fertilization. Under-watering can dry out the soil and dehydrate the grass, while over-watering can weaken roots. Properly-timed irrigation keeps grass healthy and saves on water costs, Wimer says. He recommends using a rain sensor to help determine when the field needs to be watered.

So many variables are in the grass-maintenance formula that Wimer advises district managers to make sure the work is being done by someone highly knowledgeable. Either contract the work out to an experienced third party, or hire an expert for the maintenance staff.


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