Help! Is This Right?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by kworth3, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. kworth3

    kworth3 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    Hi -
    My town is installing a new soccer field. I have a few questions about the process so far and questions about the appropriateness of completing the work during the cold and snow.

    So far in this project, the contractor has 'turned' the old and weedy grass/soil to a depth of about 4". Nothing was removed. No herbicide was applied. The field then sat for a couple of weeks and was 'turned' again. Now this original 'organic material' (the dirt/grass/weed mixture) will be 'amended' with a 'calcified clay', the field will be 'laser graded', 'rolled' and then the large rolls of 2" thick special athletic turf will be laid.

    My questions are:
    1) Does this site preparation and process sound right?
    2) Won't the weeds just come back through the new sod?
    3) The soccer field getting the new sod is adjacent to other athletic fields which won't get new sod. Without removing any soil or old grass, won't essentially adding 2" of new soil over this just create a different height field where transitions might be a problem?
    4) Is the calcified clay amendment the only thing that should be added to the original soil? Will this product help with drainage or water absorption? Could another product do more to help with a wet field?
    5) Is it too cold and snowy (we live near Chicago, IL) to lay the new sod? (It's not really expected to get above freezing for the next 10 days and there should be snow on the ground by tomorrow night.) Will the grass grow well come spring time if it is installed now? Come spring time, how long do we need to stay off of it so it can start to grow?

    Thanks for any help!!
  2. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,452

    Our nearest school built a new soccer field last year. I am not an expert on athletic fields. I am thinking it is mostly a clay soil--am I right? I have need drainage tubeing on 13 foot centers. And yes you should have killed the old weeds and grass. I don't think the calcified clay will help drainage Substitute a professional drainage system. Or did it have some other purpose? Maybe the soccer people don't like the idea...but like our local field, the field should have an 18 inch high crown to provide surface drainage. Use the laser to establish this special surface contour. Don't skimp on the crown--the traffic will pack it down quickly--don't take chances here. Pounding traffic and compaction are the enemy here. Also the area near the goal mouth takes the most beating. Good drainage absolutely essential. Put extra work and care at the goal mouth wear area, perhaps putting in 12 inches of USGA official specification greens grade sandy soil mix.
    I feel that the sod will work out OK. Should be Ok for light use after two mowings next mid-May. Starter fert in fall and a little booster feeding in April will be helpful. Irrigation is essential of course. Overuse will kill even a good field--don't let it happen.
    I am sure other experienced people can add to this. What do you think, Foreplease?
  3. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,052

    Hiya Riggle. It took me a while to find this topic under this forum. Actually, I was searching to see if you had been here lately when I found this topic.

    There is a recent good thread in the Sports Field Management forum that discusses new soccer field not far from you Kworth3. You should read it and check out the photos – see if any of the preliminary work looks like yours. That one was seeded rather than sodded but it turned out great.

    Is it too late for sod? I don’t know, it is probably OK but not ideal. It is too late for seed for sure. If it has already been installed it would be better to move on from some of your questions to those of the ‘Now what?’ ‘How are we going to grow this in and maintain it?’ type. I am not a big fan of sod, but yes the prep work you described is probably adequate. As far as elevation changes going into the adjacent field, it is hard to understand. Photos would make it more clear. I think, at some point, you have to decide which field is most important and favor that in all decisions you make about the group of the,. I hope you do not mean that sometimes parts of two (currently) different fields are use as one, i.e. changing goal locations or dimensions or orientation of the soccer fields.

    Who is "we?" Are you a coach? Girls/boys varsity/jv? I just wonder where you are in the information food chain (a real problem in many high schools) and why your concerns were not addressed before the work began. My first instinct is to wonder whose scope of work the contractor is following: school's or his own. The fact that it includes laser grading is a good sign: that he knows what he is doing, which also indicates he would not undertake the job if he was not confident it would come out well.

    Whether the calcified clay amendment is a good idea or not I can't say. Presumably, soil tests were done before this project began. One thing is certain: unless several semi trucks full of it are used, it will not make much difference. The field is approximately 80,000 square feet. Tilled 4" means they have worked up just less than 1,000 cubic yards of material. At the recommended rate from one manufacturer that is 3,000 plus bags at a minimum--75 pallets.

    There is bound to be a better way to make a difference!

    With regard to grade, my personal opinion is that 18” would certainly work but is a little much. I don’t know that much about it but have seen recommendations ranging from 1% to 1.75%. On a field width of 60 yards that means a crown of 10.8” to 18.9”. With a good soil mix and adequate drain tile, I’m sure the field crown could be one-third of that – which would make it play better, What is important is that the slope is continuous and does not change, that there not be any pockets where the grade changes. It works like roof construction where you need a valley when two different slopes meet.

    I agree goal boxes should be more intensively maintained but think having different soil mix there would make it difficult to take care of the field. I would rather see a plan for frequent aerating, overseeding, hand watering, having turf blankets available for them. Having a suitable practice field is one of the best things you can do for your game field.
  4. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

    1) although different methods can be used-- their is nothing wrong with this one

    2) no if cared for, although even weed free lawns and yes sod itself has millions of weed seed present 24/7 the thickness and health of the turf and sod prevents this

    3) sure with careful and precise measurement but in reality and done correctly it is nominal and unnoticeable to even the trained eye

    4) unanswerable with your provided information and a soil test, most likely the contractor has completed a soil assessment and is acting accordingly

    5)no- yes- 3 weeks min' possibly a little more for heavy duty sport activity
  5. kworth3

    kworth3 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    Thank you all for the input.

    Work seems to be halted for now........several inches of hard snow that began as frozen slush and is now ice, cover the field. I am not sure how sod from anywhere around here could be cut much less laid. Can this installation really still happen this winter???

    I am relieved that at least some of you feel that turning the old, weedy grass into the soil in preparation for the new sod wasn't the kiss of death for the field from a weed perspective. Time will tell!

    The thick cut sod was chosen for the project over seed because of the field down time the seed would have required. The field in question sustains heavy, virtual year round use.

    There is no drain tile or professional drainage system installed or being installed. Money, or more accurately, the lack of money is the cause. The turf consultant recommended the use of calcified clay to help with on site water retention. Apparently they intend to add some 80,000 lbs. of it.

    Our small town has two full time (and some part-time, seasonal) maintenance people who are responsible for all park district properties. While this field is really the only athletic field in town, and therefore is both practice field and game field, it is a small portion of the overall area they are responsible for maintaining. Thank you for the guidance regarding how long we need to wait to play on it this spring.

    My concern with the height/grade differential is due to there being a smaller adjacent field that is not being re-sodded. It could have been used at various points to allow for different, or 'shifted' field configurations. Even with a smooth transition, I don't think this will be possible any longer.

    Our park board, all volunteers, focused more on layout and synthetic vs. real grass decisions rather than on the actual installation process. There was some limited involvement of a "turf consultant". I don't know if there was a soil test done, but I will ask.

    I am an interested resident and parent whose children use the field on a daily basis. I have attended a number of park board meeting where most aspects of this project were discussed. They did not spend much time discussing the actual process or reasons behind their choice of contractor or process. I am still trying to understand it all. Thank you all for helping me:)
  6. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,452

    Excessive use of the field is a huge problem. You need a practice field. No drainage is also a major drawback. You need the crown. Did you mean the calcined clay was to increase drainage not for water retention? Is the native soil clay or sandy? Clay gets like Jello in wet weather and packs hard as cement in dry weather. How well does it drain? Do you get cracks in dry weather? Here is an article on how to improve native-soil low-budget fields.
  7. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,452

    Excessive use of the field is a huge problem. You need a practice field. No drainage is also a major drawback. You need the crown. Did you mean the calcined clay was to increase drainage not for water retention? Is the native soil clay or sandy? Clay gets like Jello in wet weather and packs hard as cement in dry weather. How well does it drain? Do you get cracks in dry weather? Here is an article on how to improve native-soil low-budget fields.

    And yes, now is the time to set up the field for moving the goal boxes. Probably a good idea to make the transition smooth. East west for practice--north south for games. Shift left--shift right--whatever works--I don't play soccer. You didn't mention irrigation. You might as well plan to aerate and reseed the goal boxes and take the field out of play, at times, if you plan to overuse the turf. Mud is bad. But it should be obvious that an overused field with hard-packed clay is dangerous. Your athletic league or visiting teams may refuse to play.
  8. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,052

    Your town sounds like ours and many others. Good intentions but not much resources or expertise for parks. It's a shame, really, with how many people they serve and amount of space they occupy.

    I understand where you're coming from now. Here is one thought though: the cost of that soil amendment is going to be somewhere around $18,000 - $22,000 delivered but not spread. You could have irrigation for that or less...

    No, I don't see how they can do sod now. Wasn't sure of time line earlier. Combining fields (changling borders on a temporary basis) is not going to work too well. Nonetheless, if there is a ridge left where new sod edge is you will be able to blend it in later. With any luck, they will take care of that when they are able to get to your field.

    Riggle is right about clay and crown. Good luck with this.

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