Putting Your Turf Through Spring Training
Is your turf ready for the spring season? Make sure your sports field management is as rigorous as the play will be with this maintenance schedule.
April 18, 2022
Ensure your sports turf management is ready for the spring season. Review this seasonal checklist for a comprehensive breakdown of the most important tasks to complete at the right time.
- Overseed cool-season grasses on northern fields.
Overseeding is generally for sports fields that have minimal turf damage or when turf managers use cool-season grasses for playable winter fields for warm-season turf. In northern climates, overseed into honeycombed soils from late February-March. You’ll see best results if the soil freezes at night and thaws during the day. Apply seed in the early morning when the soil is still frozen. It works best to apply the seed in several applications 4-5 days apart, rather than all at once.
- Yearly soil testing should be performed to determine nutrient balance and pH levels of soil.
Before adding nutrients to soil, conduct a soil test. You can determine nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrient levels. Use the results to see if your soil is balanced or if you need to add any minerals. After correcting any imbalance, then you can begin your turf nutrition maintenance plan.
pH measures the level of acidity in soil. If the soil test reads a pH of 7.5 or above, the soil is alkaline and can be treated with sulphur. If the test shows a pH below 6.8, the soil is acidic, and you should add a product like limestone to neutralize.
- As turf recovers from dormant period, aerate field thoroughly.
After constant use, fields will become compacted. Aerating gives the turf better uptake of nutrients, water, and air. You should aerate fields a minimum of three times a year but can aerate as often as every 10-14 days during heavy use.
Be sure to use an aerator with hollow tines, also known as the spoon type, that remove the soil core. For athletic fields, the core should be 3/4” to 1” in diameter. Heavy aeration (6-8 passes) should occur in the spring before overseeding and fertilization. Drag the field after spring aeration with a steel drag mat to break up the cores and redistribute them back into the soil profile.
- Apply preemergent herbicide.
Use a pre-emergent herbicide to control broadleaf weeds before they have a chance to spread. Be careful, as some may kill turfgrass along with the weeds. Try LESCO Stonewall, as this is available with a blend of herbicide and fertilizer to control weeds while feeding turfgrass. Follow all manufacturer instructions when applying.
- Reseed bare patches from fall season with appropriate turfgrass seed mixture.
Reseeding is particularly helpful on fields that have large bare areas, like American football fields or soccer and lacrosse fields in front of the goals. Till the area, then fill in low spots with topsoil and level. Adjust the soil pH as needed. Using soil test findings, apply fertilizer with the nutrients the soil needs most. Retill and finish-grade the area. Be sure to reseed with turf similar to what’s already in place. Seed with a broadcast spreader or by hydroseeding. If a broadcast spreader is used, lightly rake seed into ¼” of soil and firm with a roller.
- Begin maintenance fertilization.
Choose your fertilizer based on the soil test results and your agronomic conditions. Consider a fertilizer with slow-release technology for controlled feeding of nitrogen over time, such as LESCO NOS or LESCO NOS Plus.
- Apply herbicide to control broadleaf weeds.
Consider LESCO Momentum or LESCO Three-Way.
- Repair low spots, puddles to get ready for fall season.
For infields, this can be done with raking or dragging.
- Fertilize, irrigate as needed. Use of hydroscopic humectants can help minimize the effects of “summer stress” heat and drought.
Consider using LESCO Moisture Manager. Few geographies get the proper amount of moisture needed. An effective irrigation system will depend on the field’s set up and can range from an in-ground pop-up system to hoses and sprinklers. Strive to deliver 1 1/2” of water over the field every 4-5 days under drought conditions. SiteOne’s Green Tech Services has custom pump stations if desired to ensure proper irrigation.
- Apply herbicide to control broadleaf weeds as needed.
Consider LESCO Momentum or LESCO Three-Way.
- Do initial seeding/sprigging of new fields in southern areas.
Sprigging is the process of planting turf stems instead of seeds, which can accelerate the growing process. This can be accomplished when the soil temperature allows growth. Prepare the soil the same way as you would while seeding. Fumigate the soil to eliminate any pests and weeds, then plant the turfgrass sprigs at a rate of 3-5 bushels per 1,000 sq. ft. Finish by packing them into the soil with a sprig planter or cultipacker.
Start the Season with SiteOne
Whatever your field needs, you’ll find the products for the job at your local branch and at our sports turf landing page. If you have any questions or need support, associates are ready to assist. For more educational content, check out our Learn section.