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Old 05-19-2011, 08:12 AM
mccutcheonatletics mccutcheonatletics is offline
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soccer field help, small budget...

I have volunteered my services to a local non-profit soccer club. The soccer field is in terrible/typical condition. Bald in front of goals. Very bumpy throughout field. Dandelions lousy in two opposite corners. The field is lightly used in the spring. Just pick-up games and the occasional practice for tournaments. I live in western Maryland. It has been cool and wet. I probably have a few more weeks of optimal planting/renovation. I am also mowing the field and surrounding areas as well. This field is approximately 80x40yards. With the surrounding area being a little bigger than that.
I have learned so much on these sites. You guys are very knowledged in what you do. The association doesn't own much equipment as far as renovation. So I guess I will have to rent most of it. They do have a toro zero turn, lawn tractor, large roller, and a pull behind aerator.
So what I would like to get done is topsoil low spots especially in front of the goal. Get rid of dandelion patches. Hand plant low areas and divots throughout the field. Level out bumps. Rent a slit seeder to do the majority of the seeding.
I have ideas on how to get this done. But I would like the input of professionals! The only work i have done is rolling the field and getting the grass down to 2". I guess I will need it lower to do this work? I would really like a plan of action from the experts on here as to where to start and how to do it.
The field is compacted too bad. The grass is native. Dark and wide leafed. It drains fairly well except for one corner. There is NO irrigation. I can get water there, but it will be in jugs! I will try to get some pictures if that helps you guys out at all.
I havent gave you the budget yet. That is probably the worst part of this whole project. I have 500.00 as of right now to work with. It is a non-profit so I should get some relief from the rental place and such. The main expenses will be grass seed, top soil, and sand if you guys think i need it. That not counting the equipment needed. I think I can get more money if this doesnt stretch as far as I would like. But Im not certain about that part.
I look forward hearing from you guys. I am excited to work on this project and make this field way better for the kids!
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Old 05-20-2011, 03:37 PM
tcjim tcjim is offline
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Location: Annandale, NJ
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Good luck!!

$500 budget won't get it done. But, having said that, here's my opinion:
Don't worry about the weeds until you have something to replace them with. Anything green is better than nothing. The single most effective piece of equipment for low budget turf is the First Products Aeravator. I would aeravate and overseed (slow, less than 2 MPH) the entire field with Tryplex Perenial rye at 4 - 6 lbs. per thousand square feet. A split rate in 2 directions is best. the benefit to the aeravator over the slit seeder is that it relieves compaction. Even if you slice seed I would aeravate to relieve compaction. If your aerator won't go in the ground at least 2" I wouldn't depend on it as preparation for slice seeding. If you have the budget for topsoil aeravate the areas before adding the soil and aeravate and overseed after adding the soil. bare areas and topsoiled and seeded areas will have to ber mulched with hay or other acceptable mulch product or the grass wn't grow.

Now, I am probably getting ahead of myself since a soil test is important prior to seeding to determine the fertility of the soil. soil pH is most important. At the very least you want the soil over 6 and less than 6.8. Additionally the potassium and phosphorous levels should be addressed based on soil test recommendations along with a light application of nitrogen at the time of seeding. Good luck!
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Old 05-21-2011, 07:49 AM
mccutcheonatletics mccutcheonatletics is offline
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Thanks for your help. The aeravator is awesome looking! I dont think I have a piece of equipment big enough to pull the aeravator. Def dont have the money for one. The local rental place only has a slitseeder.
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Old 05-21-2011, 08:07 AM
mccutcheonatletics mccutcheonatletics is offline
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Can you guys give me the order of doing things with a slit seeder. The ground is very soft right now. It usually takes a day for the water to dry up in one are. So drainage isnt the best. Should I mix in any fescue with the perenial rye?
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Old 05-21-2011, 08:34 AM
tcjim tcjim is offline
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Order for slit seeding

1. soil test (it would be wasting other peoples money without a soil test)
2. apply lime as recommended
3. Aerate as best you can to provide aeration holes a maximum or 2" apart
4. slice seed in two directions at 45 degree angles to one another to apply a total of 6 lbs. try rye per thousand square feet.

try rye is the only seed that has a chance given the use of the field. Tall focus/ blue grass mix would work in the fall if you could lay the field up for a minimum of 1 year. Rye germinates fast and has better wear tolerance early on than other seed.
5. drag field with chain link fence or an infield drag to break up clumps, sweep loose soil into aeration holes and smooth field
6. fertilize based on soil test results.
7. mulch with hay or other material to protect seed, retain moisture and equalize temperature extremes.
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Old 05-21-2011, 08:41 AM
tcjim tcjim is offline
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Slice seeder should be set to slice 1/4" deep or so
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Old 05-21-2011, 09:43 AM
mccutcheonatletics mccutcheonatletics is offline
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tcjim, thanks for all the great information and patience with my lack of knowledge!

Im guessing the lime should be powder and not granules?
I have a question about the aerator they have there. I am just starting out, the aerator looks like it was bought used from the local rental place. I think it is missing something though... It is the type that you put block or whatever on for weight. The tines are "C" shaped. I dont see how you would adjust the depth on the aeration. There are wheels on both sides. with a lever on each. when you set them forward the aerator rolls on the wheels. But that is all they do. There are holes in the side of the aerator where you could possibly adjust something, but I have no clue...Is it supposed to ride right on the tines? Pretty bumpy that way...
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Old 05-21-2011, 10:14 AM
tcjim tcjim is offline
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aerator

Yes, the aerator rides right on the tines. You add or subtract weight to achieve the desired depth. My guess is that you will need all the weight you can get. You really can't go too deep. 4" depth would be ideal but it is likely you won't be able to go that deep. The deeper you go the more soil you will distribute on the top which will ultimately give you better soil/seed contact which is critical for seed germination.

When you aerate the soil should be dry enough where the cores you pull with the aerator will crumbled when compressed and rubbbed between your fingers. if the plugs mush like silly putty (I guess people still know what silly putty is) the soil is still too wet. The same conditions apply when slice seeding.
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Old 05-21-2011, 10:22 AM
tcjim tcjim is offline
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Lime

Pelletized lime is best. It is easy to spread and breaks down quickly in the soil. Lime is very slow acting in the soil. The smaller the particle size the quicker it reacts in the soil. Pelletized lime is actually compressed pulverized lime. Soil tests typically recommend either dolomitic lime which is used to compensate for magnesium deficiencies or calcitic lime which does not have an effect on magnesium levels in the soil. In lieu of a soil test I would apply 50 lbs. of lime per thousand square feet. A year ago I would have recommended a starter fertilizer like 18-25-12 in lieu of a soil test. today I would not recommend any potassium or phosphorous without a soil test. There are currently concerns about over applying these nutrients. You make the call.
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Old 05-21-2011, 10:47 AM
tcjim tcjim is offline
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Agressiveness of your program

I think it is important to clarify field useage when planning a renovation. the more time you can give the field before use resumes, the more aggressive and ultimately the more successful your renovation will be. The plan I have laid out depends on the field being laid up for at least the spring season. If the teams plan on using the field in the short term, I wouldn't go to the expense of slice seeding. I would just aerate (2"centers, 1"-2" depth), overseed (2 or 3 lbs. per thousand square feet), lime and fertilize as needed. the seed would more than likely only germinate in the aeration holes. The holes serve to protect the seedlings from foot traffic. You would then be functioning under the assumption that they can't kill it all and the field would ultimately be better after the renovation than before. Too much cultivation of the soil will be detrimental to the safety of the players and durability of the field
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