Drainage tile spacing for Illinois soccer field

Discussion in 'Sports Field Management' started by marquis de sod, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. marquis de sod

    marquis de sod LawnSite Member
    Posts: 91

    A local contractor has generously volunteered to donate the equipment, labor and seed to make a new soccer field for the high school where I teach and coach. We will be installing in-ground sprinklers and of course grading for surface run-off.
    What would be the spacing recommendations for drainage tile under the field. We have access to local farmers equipment to install perferated black plastic "field tile" such as we use in our corn fields. I assume it will be installed 2 1/2 to 4 feet deep and backfilled with native soil (good clay loam topsoil)
    Thanks for any recommendations you may have.
    Jeff Moore
    The Lawn Moores
    MHS soccer
  2. niceturf

    niceturf LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    If you're going to back fill with native soil, you'd be better off not installing anything. I would recommend tile being trenched in to a 2-4 foot depth and have the trenches back filled with sand...native soil back fill will take much to long for the water to migrate to the tile to be effective at keeping the field dry
  3. marquis de sod

    marquis de sod LawnSite Member
    Posts: 91

    I understand the concept but we use tile backfilled with native soil all the time in corn/soybean fields to greatly improve drainage. It is not instantaneous but does work well. I just am not sure on spacing for an athletic field.
    If one did backfill with sand, how much soil would you place on top of the sand?
  4. niceturf

    niceturf LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    No soil on top...it would completely counter act the benefit of the sand. By "sand" in mean a soil that is no more than 5-8% silt and clay sized particles. Spacing should be dictated by what you can afford. 20 ft would be great, but 40ft might be OK
  5. marquis de sod

    marquis de sod LawnSite Member
    Posts: 91

    Thanks, Niceturf, I think i understand now. The high sand/soil mixture would be very porous but still grow grass and remain solid to play on.
    The spacing is a lot tighter than I imagined. Is this using a 4" tile?
  6. Deltacare  LLC

    Deltacare LLC LawnSite Member
    Posts: 28

    Remember that in an ag field we are discing every year to break the soil up which is constantly improving infiltration rates in the soil. In a sportsfield, we don't typically cultivate enough because most people don't have the specialized equipment for deep cultivation in sportsfields. Point being that your infiltration rates will drop significantly over time on the sports field. With typical 3-4" aeration every year you will drop to a 2-3" per hour perc rate on your field soon after construction. For this reason, the drain tiles need to be as tight as you can get them to compensate for the low infiltration rates you will encounter. A typical herringbone drainage pattern will recommend 15 ft centers on the laterals. You can find several different drain patterns and recommendations for native soil field with a couple of google searches. I would also consult with U of I extension agent Tom Voight or with somebody at WIU hort department. They can help with what they have seen working in your area.

    Anyway, you have a great opportunity to do it right the first time so I would consult with some people locally to see what has and hasn't worked for them.

    Good luck!
  7. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,940

    There is good advice being offered here. I'll add that spacing also depends on what the native soil is and the amount of slope you have for surface drainage. Do you know where the water collected from the field is being directed? As long as you are doing this much work, make sure any water from outside the field is provided for and does not later overwhelm your carefully planned and installed drainage system (things like parking lots, road surface, roofs).
  8. marquis de sod

    marquis de sod LawnSite Member
    Posts: 91

    Thanks gentlemen, great info.
    I will talk to the WIU people, they have put in a couple new soccer fields in the last ten years, one with only surface drainage and "canon" sprinkler and one with tile and in-ground drainage. They used the same contractor that is donating the work for our field which is why I posed the question here . i know the coach had to move one home game to the "practice" field that had the tile installed this past season because of soggy field issues on the surface drained field.
    We will have very good surface drainage, no outside competition like a parking lot sending water to the field.
    As for discing and ag tile you are a bit behind the times. ;-) Most fields are no tilled and the drainage improves as permanent worm burrows or deep rooting plants open passages to the tile. Actually, surface tillage of bare soil often "seals" the surface after a good rain, necessitating tillage to speed drying. I know tile backfilled with native soil is not nearly as fast as sand trenching, I was just wanting to relieve some of the pressure during these extremely wet years. And I'm not sure just how far our donated resources will go.
  9. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,233

    Best spacing for drain tiles is 13 feet. See recent research at Michigan State University. Niceturf is right. Backfill with sand.

    Did you plan to have a crown on the field contour? Say about 18 inches? (Like in football?) Better drainage, by far, but not sure if soccor rules allow it.
  10. marquis de sod

    marquis de sod LawnSite Member
    Posts: 91

    Thanks for the article RigglePLC, very informative read. As I understand it, the build-up of sand top-dressing acts as a drainage mat to allow water to flow horizontally to the drainage tile. Correct? I think the spacing and quantity of sand required will be way over our budget but the concepts over time can be used. The field will see light use, only High School games and an occasional club match so I'm hoping to increase the infiltration rates over time.
    Yes we will be crowning the field @ 1%

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