Managing an athletic field is tricky. You need the turf to be well-watered, so it’s not too dusty for players. But too much water can make the turf soggy. Today, we’ll discuss irrigation best practices so your athletic field is always on its A-game.
Create A Watering Schedule
Watering regularly will help keep your grass green and healthy. Irrigation systems for commercial properties are excellent because they can help you stick to an established schedule. However, you shouldn’t automatically set it to autopilot, as we’ll discuss later on.
Keep Your Field Drained
Of course, grass needs water to thrive, but overwatering or heavy rains can create pools of water. This leaves your athletic field looking poor and increases the likelihood of injuries to players. If needed, RZ Turf Management can help you install a discreet but effective drainage system to remove excess moisture quickly.
Determine How Much Water Your Turf Needs
This will depend on a few things. Firstly, you’ll need to take any rainfall into the equation. Turfgrass needs approximately 1.5 inches of water every 7 days – minus any rainfall. However, keep in mind that soil conditions will vary from one field to another.
The other thing to consider is the soil composition. Sandy soils will drain faster than clay-heavy soils. Evapotranspiration, the process by which water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere by evaporation from the soil and other surfaces and by transpiration from plants, is much more profound in 90-degree weather than in 60-degree weather. In other words: your turfgrass is going to be drier and dustier in the summer compared to the fall and spring.
Use A Moisture Sensor
We recommend purchasing this one from turf-tec.com. It works well in all soil types, has a digital display for more accurate readings, and it’s made in the USA! Once you know how much moisture is in your lawn, you can adjust your sprinkler system accordingly. When the field is not in use, a good moisture level is between 25 and 75% moisture. Keep in mind that turfgrass is at its strongest, meaning the roots are well attached to the soil, at 25% moisture. Keeping a proper moisture balance allows your field to withstand wear and tear. When conditions frequently dip below 25% moisture levels, this puts the turfgrass in a drought-stress situation. When this happens, you should avoid having activity on the field and water immediately to recover the moisture level. Otherwise, your grass could easily be ripped up, and players can create uneven areas as the turf pulls up.
On the other side of the spectrum, soil moisture conditions between 50% to 75% are ideal for growing turfgrass. However, these conditions will substantially reduce soil cohesiveness. In other words, the excess moisture makes it easy for the turfgrass plant to be pulled out and damaged from heavy foot traffic. In addition, overly saturated soils become anaerobic, lacking sufficient oxygen levels for root structure. Under these conditions, loss of grass is inevitable!
How To Set Up Your Irrigation System In Your Lawn
Knowing how to schedule your “water window” is challenging. Automatic irrigation systems are a blessing, but we do not recommend setting your system to autopilot during the growing season. Autopilot is good for a residential front lawn that won’t have heavy foot traffic. Athletic fields, however, must be able to withstand hours of physical activity. As mentioned above, over a long period of time, oversaturated soil can have adverse effects – not to mention the cost of your water bill. Each system is different, and the volume of water they produce varies. When you keep in mind your irrigation system capacity, soil types, holding capacities, infiltration rates, and the time of year, you’ll give your turf the greatest chance for success.
Keep Your Athletic Fields Looking Dapper With RZ Turf Management
From soccer fields to baseball diamonds, the experts at RZ Turf Management will keep your athletic turf in pristine condition. Our professionally installed drainage systems ensure your commercial property is never water-logged. And when it’s time to install new turf, we can assist with that too. Give us a call today at 574-404-8873 or contact us online here. For more helpful articles, be sure to check out our monthly blog!