I recentley started lawn care for a local daycare, the main play area is so compacted that the grass barely grows enough in one month to be mowed, while the rest of the lawn grows normally. Is there anything I can do and if so what. Thanks Michael
aerate the living heck out of it. Course, you might want to use open tines as the little kids might throw the "turds" left by closed spoons, or say screw it and let the day care deal with the turd tossing kids. I would also suggest using something like "Pro's Choice" Soilmaster Soil Conditioner. It's an infield conditioner, but from what I've read and heard you can use it and is being used to help reduce compaction in sports turf fields.
The optimal rate is 250# per 1000, which is a lot. I would aerate 2-3 times maybe put half down and drag it in. Do it again in the spring.
core aerate double or triple times then apply a very heavy application of gypsum, somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 to 300 lbs per 1000, that will help loosen the soil up.
The right way to do this would be to fill the area with 6 to 8 inches of mulch or maybe rubber mulch, the daycare should do something to soften permanently to protect from injuries from falls mulch is the best for that.
beach sand would also work but gets blown into the good grass areas when the wind is high.
agreed, aeration is a beginning point. Also, have a look around at the local farms and see who is turning large compost piles. Spread a layer, aerate, spread a layer, aerate and so on. Adding organic material to the soil profile will help over time, just like any other soil amendment. If the area if small enough, til it to an 8" depth with a heavy mix of compost and sand then reseed/sod it in. This will be a longer term solution. Gypsum can help, but works best if your soil is alkaline and clay.