SOCCER FIELD TOP DRESSING--Price?

Discussion in 'Sports Field Maintenance' started by Bob E G, Jun 22, 2009.

  1. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,070

    I have done some deep tine aerating but do not have long experience with it. My opinion agrees with others who posted in this thread: it is a good practice to have in rotation or alternate with other types of aeration.

    The underlying soil is important. I don't think you are going to have or cause any problems putting sand over just about anything. The important thing will be to continue doing it once you begin that program. As you probably know, the kind of layering that really causes problems comes from using a heavy soil over a lighter one.

    I like washed mason sand, but strongly prefer to have a small amount of OM cut in when using over soil based fields. Even with the best intentions using straight sand you are dirtying things up when you aerate aggressively anyway. I had a physical analysis done on my mix. Generally, it was very good. The only suggestion they gave me had to do with the total percentage of the sand component on adjacent sieves; mine was 80.6% medium and fine (.25 mm and .15 mm). They suggest this number be no more than 75% and that, "if possible," I increase the amount of coarse sand (.5 mm) "to improve the stability of this mixture for root-zones." It really is not possible for me in an easy or affordable way. I believe the small amount of organic matter I am using helps. I think he only commented on it because he knows I used this mix when I repair compacted areas, such as in front of pitcher's mounds, as well as for topdressing.
     
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  2. OP
    OP
    Bob E G

    Bob E G LawnSite Member
    from 53717
    Messages: 129

    When we aerify, we are pulling about 18 cores per square foot. I'm just guessing, but I think the reason they are recommending 100% mason sand, is that we ARE already reincorporating a significant amount of base soil, thus "diluting" the sand mixure already. Which makes a good arguement for a straight sand application.

    Is that what you meant by "dirtying things up" ?
     
  3. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,070

    Yes. I think we're really pretty much alike.

    That clay can be a bear, can't it? Do you have good surface drainage? My first year on this field we had an in-season month with over 15" of rain and last year we had another one, also during the season, with 14 1/2".
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Bob E G

    Bob E G LawnSite Member
    from 53717
    Messages: 129

    Surface drainage varies throughout the park. We mow 2x/week. If we get more than about 3/4", there are about 5 fields we can't even get through.

    Yea, those heavy rain years can be tough. Still I think I'd rather deal with the rain than drought or dormant conditions--irrigation can be sporatic and just doesn't measure up to good rainfalls.

    How long have you been doing athletic fields? And where do YOU see the trends going in sports turf maintenance?
     
  5. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,070

    I began working on a golf course in 1977 and completed Michigan State's turf program in 1981. I worked in two other unrelated fields for about 15 years beginning in 1984, but kept my hand in turf as a hobby. After watching local fields on which my kids played deteriorate, I began volunteering at a park nearby with several baseball and softball fields. Before long I was asked to get involved with turning around an American Legion Baseball field and a two acre test plot/demonstration in a soccer complex in another park. Then I rebuilt a high school baseball field, still as a volunteer, and have been maintaining the nicest soccer field in the area for the last three years. This is my second year of doing this kind of work formally as a business, but there are still several projects I am involved with as a volunteer.

    Where do I see things going? Hmmm...I read about what is happening across the country but it is difficult to look beyond the area where I live and work. In many respects the trend seems to be toward less well maintained athletic fields by schools and municipalities, which are in tough financial condition. Like almost every other industry, more is expected to be done with less. Many conventional maintenance practices seemed to be viewed as optional or extravagant.

    IMO, not enough is being done to offset the increased use most of these fields endure from things such as extended seasons, travel teams, and players beginning organized sports at younger ages. The fields that are doing well here require support from parent groups (“boosters”) and organizations that operate the various leagues but do not own their facilities.

    I think clearly the unfortunate trend is toward artificial playing surfaces, ironically called “turf” by many. There are places that can benefit from having it but it is not the panacea it is perceived to be. There is too much of a sense that not only do our kids deserve these kinds of fields but that nothing else will do. They are expensive, far from maintenance free, and not very forgiving in terms of injuries. I find it sadly laughable that places that will not mow a second or third time in a week because it is too expensive are lining up to install artificial fields at costs of $600-$800,000.

    Another trend is toward more restrictions on the use of water for irrigation. Conservation is important but this is a bit of a trendy issue from where I sit surrounded by the Great Lakes. Living things need water to grow. Even many artificial fields are watered by the way. Locally, the conservation push has been only about using water on designated days. I would like to see a more integrated approach where an effort is made to educate the public a little with things such as time of day, mowing height, grass varieties, fertilization schedules and types all made part of the effort to use less water and use it well. I think, too, if municipalities want to elicit cooperation we need to be given an idea of what their plans are to combat increased demand.

    I think there is an opportunity for good practice facilities, perhaps privately owned, to be heavily used by teams that pay a fee to use them. Something like this is needed to take the pressure off game fields. Expectations for durability are off the charts high here in my opinion. I have many examples but prefer not to get specific because I am trying to work with some of these dame places.

    A concept I have long believed in is the notion of an equipment co-op. Most places cannot afford or justify all the equipment needed to take care of fields well. On the other hand, many expensive pieces of equipment sit idle a very high percentage of the time – well over 90%.

    Well...you asked :) I do not have all the answers, I don’t even know what all the questions are. I am not completely objective, I suppose, either. I am interested in better athletic field conditions though.

    What do you and others think?
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Bob E G

    Bob E G LawnSite Member
    from 53717
    Messages: 129

    Thanks for the background and for your opinions about sports turf.

    I agree, the demand for these fields is off the charts, at least by us. So if every field is a practice field and a game field, almost every field gets used every night--you can imagine that the fields cannot be in top playing condition for a tournament weekend or a championship game.

    Its a catch 22-we want nice fields, we need to use them all the time, thus we end up doing the best we can to try to keep them at least playable for whenever they are needed.

    I'm working with management to try to put a field at-a-time in a rest rotation or in some cases renovate a field or two per season. But then, guess what, they need all the fields for play.:)
     
  7. Fred Logan

    Fred Logan LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    I take care of our local high school football field and have for years. I aerate with a hollow core tine aerator, then sweep up the plugs. Afterwards I spread a river sand mix that has about 5 different sizes of sand. This will prevent compaction..which needs to be avoided like the plague. Several folks use mortar sand because it's cheap. Mortar sand is very fine and all particles are the same size. Using that will eventually cause dips and valleys all over the field. Don't do it. I used 75 tons over 2 acres and drag it in where....from the road you couldn't tell it had been top dressed. Normally I would use only USGA certified top dressing sand but my supplier showed me this river sand mix and I was sold. If you don't want to use sand you can use a product called Milorganite which is great for the soil and has a low grade nitrogen content as well. Doesn't really fill the aerated holes like sand so you don't get the aeration and moisture retention but you do get a good low grade fertilizer deep in the soil.
    And oh yeah, I do all this for free. Both my sons graduated from this school, but I'm still hanging around.
     
  8. meets1

    meets1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,931

    Awesome info. I maintain a school system. Football field is the holy grail. But the base/soft ball fields are usual play but we have 3 other fields that are used all the time. Practise fields for school sports, rec programs during the day and night and weekends, then there are 3 other baseball fields that are used thru august. Currently we have a sub who areafies the fields, has top dressed football once, I have thatched the ball fields in the spring, and some over seeding. I would like to do this work but where do I begin with an aerator? top dresser much less the material, and in the end what is a general maintanence plan for field conditions. They are all grass, all under irrigation.
     
  9. Dean Armstrong

    Dean Armstrong LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Watch the type of sand you are using, can cause you more problems.
     
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