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View Full Version : What's Really Involved: Athletic Field Maintenance


BSDeality
12-12-2005, 09:38 PM
I'd love to know some of the in's and outs from those of you who service Athletic fields. I currently do field lining in the spring and fall for two clubs in the area. I am looking to double to four clubs for the spring of 06, and then hopefully another 2-4 in the fall. I would like to know some of the other aspects of the maintenance that goes on "behind the scenes".

For those of you who apply field lines, what system(s) do you use? air sprayer? airless sprayer? gas? electric? air?
What about setup, do you use strings? tapes? etc? I find this incredibly time consuming, but a necessary evil in athletic fields.

Ideally I would like to setup a system to do the renovation/repair work for tired athletic fields, ie topdressing, slit seeding, grading, reseed/sodding. One of the towns I service has the budget to maintain "OK" fields, the other has only enough to keep them playable, but they are very slowly improving the fields.

lwcmattlifter
12-13-2005, 06:23 PM
I worked for the Park Authority athletic fields maintenance division for 3 years while I was in college. What type of fields are you doing, soccer/football, baseball, softball?

Football/Soccer fields:

These require a medium amount of renovation maintenance. Aside from aerating and fertilizing. Once a year we would regrade the field and top dress. We used a bucket loader and a york rake for the field dressing. Yes, it's the old fashion way but it works. The biggest trouble areas on these fields are the goal mouth and center field. The center field is usually worn below grade and the goal area grows a lip around the outside of the posts. 9 times out of 10 the bare areas are replaced with sod. Very rarely did we seed these fields because they are so heavily used.

Baseball/Softball fields:

These fields require maintenance after every game or practice. Normally we would service the infield 3-4 times a week with an athletic field groomer. It's a 3 wheeler with a blade on the front, grading bar/scarifier in the center and a metal drag screen in the rear. We had two, Smithco and a Toro sandpro. You need fill in all holes and keep the dirt areas graded. The pitchers mound has to be packed also. The hardest part with baseball fields is keeping the dirt buildup between the turf and infield mix level. It's almost impossible with public fields because of the heavy use. Once a year we took a sod cutter to the outline of the infield and baselines to cut the ridge down. This is also the time to measure your infield dimensions and adjust your running lanes if they are worn in. Home plate, bases and the pitchers mound have to be replaced as needed. Outfields require little maintenance besides aeration. Every couple of years outfields are slice seeded. Backstops and fences need inspection and replacement as needed.

All fields:

Spraying was always subbed out since it's so time consuming. Of course that job went to Joe Jack and his spray can on wheels and all they did was paint over the existing stripe once a week. We string the field twice a year just to make sure they were in spec. Lastly, there was always some kind of irrigation problem. Normally the infield heads along the baselines get stuck from being repeatedly cleated, lines leak and heads get stuck in the extend position and decapitated by mowers.


I hope this helps. I'm sure I have forgot some other things. I'll post them if they come to me.

BSDeality
12-13-2005, 11:26 PM
I line soccer fields right now, I'm looking at tryin to get into lacrosse and football, maybe the foul lines on softball/baseball too.

I take care of the local soccer club fields, however the town/high school is responsible for lining the high school fields. I am going to approach the Parks + Rec director sometime in the future to have a little chat to see if its more cost efficient to have it subbed out to me.

The local soccer fields here are getting heavy use since its predominant sport for kids to play around here. They do try to alternate the fields, but some are seeing double-duty.

MarcSmith
12-14-2005, 07:42 AM
before we went synthetic on our fields we had bermuda on a sand base...Thanks fully the Atheltic department did the striping. But bermuda fields are a lot work. We don't have practice fields (oneof the reason for going atrificial) so the field were seeing use daily and really getting worn out. In the early spring we woudl usually resod between the hash marks and on the sideline and then sprig the rest of the field.

Mowing was done at least 2x a week with a toro reel master triplex durringt he growing season, and when we oversead with rye we would use a scag tiger cub set at 1.5"

thank fully when they went o artifical on one and left the second field bermuda(soccer only) the athletic department took the maintenance over in house...Thank fully....maintaing an artifical field which sees practice and play, it needs to be brushed and groomed almost as much as a natural field.

When I lived in orlando I did work on the YMCA baseball fields and keepingthe edge on the turf/baseline level was the biggest PITA. almost as big as the Divots the little leagers make in the outfield while waiting for a fly ball...I had one divot that was 8" deep ..Little Bstrds....

Greenbrier
12-14-2005, 09:09 AM
Interesting! I would love to learn how to do baseball and soccer fields.
Is there a book about this? How do they do the ultra fancy criss-cross in the baseball infield and outfields for Pro ball teams? Is that real grass or astro turf?
How would you bid on a local little league field complex?

Thanks,

Coop

MarcSmith
12-14-2005, 09:18 AM
Interesting! I would love to learn how to do baseball and soccer fields.
Is there a book about this? How do they do the ultra fancy criss-cross in the baseball infield and outfields for Pro ball teams? Is that real grass or astro turf?
How would you bid on a local little league field complex?

Thanks,

Coop
the patterns are just from roller or striping kits.... just cuttingthe grass i would plan on 2-3x more than your normal cutting season... the edges all depend on how much use its gets., but dressing the running lanes needs to be done every couple days to prevent and hard pan forming. the clay needs to be soft and workable. the edges could be worked once a week and would be fine.... Painting woudl need to be done every couple weeks on the grass, by if you have any lines on dirt, after every couple games...

Greenbrier
12-14-2005, 02:52 PM
Where do you find out about striping kits? And what special mower would you need? Some of those pro fields are REALLY REALLY fancy. It must take 24/7 to keep up some of those fields! I would just be doing little league around here. Maybe I could talk them into some irrigation and pro set up on one of the fields, for championships and playoffs.

Thanks,

Coop

MarcSmith
12-14-2005, 03:16 PM
if the field is cut low enough you'd need a reel-type mower..., but if you keep it more than an inch you coudl get buy with a rotary mower. to get the patterns you could buy o rmake a roller to drag behind the mower to get the grass to lay down in different directions and create the patterns.

http://www.emedco.com/emed2/product_2.asp woul proably be your cheapest entry level striper, just need to buy the inverted spray can to mark, whcih can get pricey. but if your charging for it, no biggie..

BSDeality
12-14-2005, 04:30 PM
Marc, the link you posted is no good

As for turf striping with the mower, a stiff, big-rig mudflap works well when cut down to only be 1/2" off the shop flor.

As for marking turf with paint, you have to use latex if you want to fit it into the school/club/municipal budget.

MarcSmith
12-15-2005, 07:39 AM
http://www.ssgraphicsco.com/en-us/dept_244.html

try this.... basic and budget....if you can go to a more proffessional where you mix you own paint, it is cheaper in the long run.....

ThreeWide
12-15-2005, 01:44 PM
Here is a link for a good book on striping patterns.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1575041510/qid=1134672156/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/104-0546533-8575134?n=507846&s=books&v=glance

MarcSmith
12-15-2005, 02:23 PM
Here is a link for a good book on striping patterns.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1575041510/qid=1134672156/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/104-0546533-8575134?n=507846&s=books&v=glance

too bad most of my staff can't read english...:)

LwnmwrMan22
12-21-2005, 12:37 AM
Here's where the athletic assn. and schools around here get their equipment

I've picked up an infield drag from them, and I'd like to get a broom, but haven't yet.

We maintain 5 schools and 6 township parks, but they're not TOO picky with the grass.

The schools and associations do their own striping.

Anyways, like I said, here's a link to some of the equipment, you can get ideas and google them to learn more...

http://www.kromer-afm.com/athleticFieldMachines/afmB200.htm

MarcSmith
12-21-2005, 06:37 AM
the one nice thing abour grad mats and such is that the can be home made very cheaply and in most cases work better than products sold proffessionaly....I know I had a little smithco 3 wheel raker. and the drag mat, spring rake and scarifying board were all home made and worked great...

BSDeality
12-21-2005, 09:05 AM
i've got a Graco FieldLazer (http://www.graco.com/Internet/T_PDB.nsf/SearchView/FieldLazer) for my striping operation.

I'm curious what the cost is of the Kromer B100 (http://www.kromer-afm.com/athleticFieldMachines/afmB100.htm)? I don't mind walking for right now, however if i can double my clubs like I'd like to, i will need either PT helper + another machine. or possibly a ride-on unit.

Anyone have any $$$ info for the b100? My fieldlazer ran about $2k

LwnmwrMan22
12-21-2005, 09:20 AM
i've got a Graco FieldLazer (http://www.graco.com/Internet/T_PDB.nsf/SearchView/FieldLazer) for my striping operation.

I'm curious what the cost is of the Kromer B100 (http://www.kromer-afm.com/athleticFieldMachines/afmB100.htm)? I don't mind walking for right now, however if i can double my clubs like I'd like to, i will need either PT helper + another machine. or possibly a ride-on unit.

Anyone have any $$$ info for the b100? My fieldlazer ran about $2k

Seems to me, if I remember right, about 2-3 years ago it was about 5-6k with all the bells and whistles.

It was something that I would have like to have, but at the time, the township was being annexed by a local city and we weren't sure how many parks would be left behind.

So far I haven't lost any, but the township is dissolving into another local city now, which has it's own parks department, so I'm on a wait and see what's going to happen with the ones I currently maintain, as well as ordinances that'll change since I'm currently zoned agriculture, but will be re-zoned residential within the next year or so.

I suppose I'll have to deal like the rest of you guys, with not being able to park anything at my house anymore.

LwnmwrMan22
12-21-2005, 09:39 AM
Please ignore 1/2 of that previous message.

I just called Michelle at Kromer.

A 100 with chalk and paint capabilities, along with other addons will run you about $12k.

That's got an 8hp engine on it.

She also said that if you have minorities in your area, that MLB will donate some money to your machine, to get that price down, but that it somewhat depends on demographics, or at least that's what they've noticed.

She doesn't think that's right, which neither do I, in a way, but... such is life.

Anyways, you might want to give them a call. They'll send you an info packet along with a CD/DVD of the machine in use.

MarcSmith
12-21-2005, 09:50 AM
She also said that if you have minorities in your area, that MLB will donate some money to your machine, to get that price down, but that it somewhat depends on demographics, or at least that's what they've noticed.

Right or wrong....if some over paid sports league wants to help buy some of my equipment, I'd jump through the hoops....Don't ever leave money on the table....

I jump through hoops to get my GSA Pricing. Well worth it....and the dealers so long as they get their money from the factory could care less where the money comes from...

BSDeality
12-21-2005, 09:50 AM
:eek: $12K!? WOW. I guess I'll stay with my lowly push unit for a couple more seasons. i've been looking for an old rear engine snapper to fab' my own. I figure it'd make a good winter project, theres really nothing to these machines, just a roller pump with hoze/nozzle which you can buy from any professional paint store.

out4now
12-22-2005, 11:22 PM
I worked for a public highschool system and we used the old calcuim carbonate and then they switched over to paint once I left. I used kite string and tape to do lines with a Guftason liner. Was a pain. I did softball, baseball, football, soccer and track fields. Its a lot of work. Haven't read through all the threads yet but I suggest getting Flyod Perry's books and attending one of his classes. They are expensive but I went to one and the employer paid so worked out nice. http://www.gmsforsportsfields.com/ The drags we had our welder build the needle types and the screens they bought from somwhere. As for the baselines, to keep the Turface out we would power broom it or had to use a pressure wsher which was a real pain. We finally went to grass baselines. It looked better and was much easier to maintain. For striping you may see if one of these will work, http://www.hovermower.com/st21k.htm its not the hover mower they made that part of their address because they sell those also. Sports fileds can be a PITA. Soccer was the easiest overall even with the battle of trying to keep some grass in the goal tenders area.

PurpHaze
12-23-2005, 11:50 AM
We finally went to grass baselines.

That seems to be the trend around here because it seems nobody has the time to keep them up properly.

ProEagle
02-21-2006, 08:59 PM
I do sports turf management most of the time. Floyd Perry's books and seminars are great references. Same with Dave Mellor's Book "Perfect Picture."

http://www.missouriturfpaint.com/siteindx.html is a great site for stenciling and field painting. check it out, very helpful.

ProEagle
02-21-2006, 09:17 PM
Here is some of my soccer and football field stencil pictures:

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=128025&highlight=Eagle+Stencil