Last week we discussed cool-season turf athletic field management. Bermudagrass (warm season) athletic fields are becoming more popular in our area. Following is a basic program that will put your bermudagrass athletic fields in good condition.
Adjust pH Levels
Adjust to 6.0 – 7.0 for optimum results.
Mowing a Bermudagrass Athletic Field
Bermudagrass performs best when mowed frequently at a low height of cut. Hybrid bermudagrass should be mowed between ½ and ¾ inch and when the turf reaches ¾ to 1-inch height. Reel mowers provide the highest quality cut on bermudagrass athletic fields.
Actively growing bermudagrass requires 1.0-1.5 inches of water per week. Irrigate no more than twice a week, and apply 0.75 inches each time. As you water your bermudagrass, remember these tips:
- Do not irrigate daily, even with light amounts of water, since this will encourage increased pest problems and shallow rooting.
- Try to moisten the soil to 6-inches deep with each irrigation cycle. The best time of day to water is during the early morning hours, as that will limit the amount of time the grass blades stay wet and reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation.
- Coordinate irrigation so that water is not applied 24 hours prior to the use of the field.
Dethatching Bermudagrass Athletic Fields
What is known as “thatch” is a layer of undecomposed organic matter and live plant stems that sits at the soil surface. Removing thatch periodically with a vertical mower is necessary to maintain bermudagrass athletic fields properly. Dethatching is needed when thatch exceeds 0.5 inches. The thatch brought up to the surface needs to be removed.
Vertical mowing creates considerable stress on the turfgrass system. To promote recovery, vertical mowing should be performed when the bermudagrass is actively growing. Irrigate deeply after vertical mowing. Fertilize with one pound of Nitrogen no later than one week after vertical mowing to stimulate growth.
Soil compaction reduces pore space in the soil, which reduces the amount of oxygen and water available for root growth. Turf vigor gradually declines, and more recovery time will be required after heavy use. Core aeration is one of the most significant management tools for bermudagrass athletic fields. Core aeration should be done at least twice a year and more often if the field is used intensively. The soil should be moist, but not wet when core aerating. If the coring tines continually clog during the operation, the soil is likely too wet.
Topdressing is the addition of a layer of material to the turf surface. Usually, the material is sand. The amount of sand to use in topdressing varies depending on your field:
- On sand-based fields, use sand that is similar in size to the existing sand root zone.
- On soil fields, choose a uniform coarse sand (consisting of 80% of particles between 1.0 and 0.5 mm and 90% between 2.0 and 0.5 mm).
- When topdressing without coring, figure on using 0.4 cubic yards (1,080 lbs) per 1,000 sq. ft. for each 1/8 inch of sand depth.
Scientific Plant Service Is Your Go-To Source In Landscape Healthcare
Scientific Plant Service, located in Baltimore, is a privately owned corporation, chartered in Maryland in 1957 by Frank J. Burke. We started as a full-service Arborists specializing in the care of shade trees and ornamental shrubs, but today we are a Lawn Care company that is a huge part of the community. From aquatic environments and snow management to deer and mole control, SPS has services tailored specifically for your lawn and landscape.
We offer services in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia, including: Harford, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Calvert counties in MD, as well as Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church in VA. For more information, contact us online, or call us at 410-321-0970. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!