Thursday, August 17, 2017

How Do I Create a Sports Turf Divot Mix?

I get this question a number of times during my travels?  How do handle the bare areas on my field?  With fall sports beginning, let's look at how to create a divot mix.

This is a major problem on cool season athletic fields.  All it takes is a simple blend of 2-3 products.

First, place topsoil and if you have it available, peat on the grounds shop floor.



Next, add seed at a rate equal to the soil/peat blend.  Yes, I know this is a lot of seed, but being aggressive with seeding rates are critical in high traffic areas.



Blend all the materials together with a shovel and place in a bucket.



Finally, place in the bare area.  Using some type of aerification before seeding is the best approach.  In this case, a pitch fork provided the aerification.


Creating a seed bank in cool season athletic fields are critical to achieving 100% cover.  Don't be afraid to seed frequently.

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer


Monday, August 14, 2017

Overseeding Cool Season Athletic Fields

The overseeding window for cool season sports turf is open for many across the Midwest.  Lack of overseeding athletic fields and overseeding at the incorrect rates can be major reasons why athletic fields fail.  HERE is a great article from Pat Sherratt at Ohio State University.  HERE is a link from an earlier post on the SmartTurf Blog regarding overseeding.


Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Thursday, July 13, 2017

How to Pull an Infield Mix Sample

Pulling an infield mix sample is critical to determining the best approach to adding new infield mix to an existing infield.  Pulling a sample is a relatively easy process, below are the steps.

#1 - Have a bucket and a shovel ready:


#2 - Push all conditioner to the side - do not include this material with the sample:


#3 - Pull 4-8 samples across the infield at a four inch depth - this is the depth that the infield will be tilled/blended.  Note in the photo below a clear layering of infield mixes is present:


#4 - Agitate the samples and fill 1/2 of a one gallon freezer bag.  Now you have your sample ready for testing:


Consistency in testing is critical for amending infields.  All of our samples go to Turf and Soil Diagnostics.

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
-Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Infield Mix Drainage - Do Not Use Gravel as a French Drain!

At multi-field complexes, drainage along the backstops can be challenging due to elevations of the press box building and bleacher areas of a facility.  There are many ways to design/drain the facility. One way I would not recommend is using a stone "french" drain as is shown in the photo below:


This drain will move water.  The problem?  The stone will migrate into the infield.  Stone is already present on this infield before the facility hosted its first game.

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Baseball and Softball Infield Drainage - Do’s and Dont’s - Architect Blueprint

We have discussed infield mix drainage in past posts of the SmartTurf Blog.

Today, I wanted to share a photo from an unnamed architect that shows a cross section of infield mix drainage on a plan approved for construction.


Will this work?  Of course not.  Yet another reason why synthetic turf infields are becoming more popular for baseball infields.  If natural soil/engineered soil infields cannot be designed properly, they are doomed to fail.

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Saturday, June 17, 2017

#LifeOnTheRoad - Building an On-Site Sod Farm

This is another post in a periodic series entitled #LifeOnTheRoad.  The background is simple.  During my travels I  encounter many grounds managers/coaches doing great things.  Because of this, I have started this series.  The goal - expose more grounds managers, coaches, architects, etc to areas of facility and sports turf maintenance that may be implemented to their facility/design.


Many times, having an on site sod farm at a facility is a great idea.  A small amount of sod that is under a program similar to the playing surface will allow for quick in season repairs with sod that will be comparable to the existing turf on the field.  Here are a couple shot of the sod farm outside of Marlins Park:



The sod farm is fully irrigated and on the same fertility program as the playing surface.  It is also maintained at the same cutting height.  There are two types of sod due to the fact that both 419 bermudagrass and paspalum are grown at Marlins Park.

Here is a photo of the sod farm at Parkview Field, home of the Ft Wayne TinCaps.  Although it is smaller in area, it serves the same purpose as the farm in Miami.



Is an on site sod farm a fit at your facility?

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Windscreen - Measure Correctly for a Proper Fit

During my travels I visit a number of fields that have windscreen that is not properly measured to fit the fence.  Below are two examples - one incorrectly measured and one correctly measured.

In the first example notice the windscreen and how the material is too long for the fence.  This results in the windscreen touching the turf.  This not only looks poor, but also will be a candidate to be hit with a mower or string trimmer.


In the second example notice the room at both the top and bottom of the windscreen.  This allows for the windscreen to stretched tight while also allowing clearance for mowers and string trimmers.


Bottom line, properly measured and installed windscreen can really give a field a "professional look" while also providing a better background for the players and the umpires.

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Great Mixture to Keep Weeds and Unwanted Grass Out of Infields and Warning Tracks

With summer quickly approaching, many high school playing surfaces are winding down from spring play.  Crabgrass, goosegrass, and other unwanted growth will quickly appear.
 


How do you control this issue?  See below:

A simple mixture of Glyphosate in a 2% solution and SureGuard at 3 teaspoons per 1000 sq ft. So, in a 3 gallon spray hand can, 7.68 ounces of Glyphosate and 9 teaspoons of SureGuard. The tank will cover 3,000 sq ft. How well does it work? The photos below are from the warning track at Brebeuf High School. The track was sprayed in March.




Note the weeds along the track edge. This is due to the application. As many of you know, Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, meaning it will kill anything it touches. So, be careful along all grass edges. Finally, to get better control, try not the work the infield/track up as this will break the Sureguard barrier.

To learn more about Glyphosate, click HERE.

To learn more about Sureguard, click HERE.

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer


Monday, May 15, 2017

Tall Fescue v Barenbrug HGT Bluegrass - A Tale of Two Fields

A site visit was made to two fields today.  First, a visit was made to a tall fescue football field.  Normal wear and tear caused divots/areas void of turf cover.  The grounds manager asked how much fertilizer would be needed to "fill it in."  This area will need to be overseeded due the the "bunch type" growth of tall fescue.  To learn more about why NOT to use tall fescue on athletic fields, click HERE.


The second visit was at a new Barenbrug HGT seeded football field.  Notice the areas that need to fill in.  This will completely fill over the next 30 days due to the Foliar Pak Grow-In product and the aggressive rhizome growth of the HGT bluegrass.  Stay tuned to the blog as we follow this field.  


Bottom line is bluegrass can be "pushed" to fill in laterally.  Tall fescue is a "one seed one plant".

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer


















Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Grass Baselines for Baseball?

With the wet spring across the Midwest many have asked about grass baselines.  Let's take a closer look.

Does that really work?  I get that question all of the time.  So, I stopped by Dunker Field today to take a few photos.  J&D Turf applies fertilizer and chemicals to the field during the year.  We also laser grade the infield each fall.  Enough with the background info, lets get to the photos.  Keep in mind, this was after over 100 games and practices..........

First base and third base:



As you can see, the baselines are in great shape.  A couple things to remember with grass baselines:

1.  There will be maintenance to the lines.  Constant overseeding with ryegrass and allowing the runners to "cleat it in" is necessary weekly when there is play
2.  Don't be afraid to sod the area off of 3rd base.  As you can see from this photo, the area where the players lead off will be worn.  Just install a row or two of new sod each fall.  Sure beats trying to dry wet baselines!
3.  Finally, grass baselines work best when building a new field or when renovating and laser grading an existing field.  Click HERE to see a renovation that took place last summer at Martinsville High School.

So yes, grass baselines will perform well with the correct installation and maintenance plan.

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Tall Fescue for Athletic Fields?







The photos above are from a baseball infield that was sodded with tall fescue a couple of years ago.  The complaint is the turf is too bumpy and our guys are scared to field a ground ball.  Why is this?  Click HERE to see a link from Purdue that explains why Turf Type Tall Fescue is not typically a good choice for athletic fields in Indiana.

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Always Tarp the Mound and Plate Areas

Using tarps for mounds and plates are a critical maintenance practice.  Tarps will perform two main tasks.

1. Keep moisture off the mound and plate areas - Mound and plate areas consist of special soil that contains significantly more clay, thus keeping moisture off the areas are critical for performance. 



2. Keep moisture in the mound and plate areas - As important as keeping moisture off of mound and plate areas is keeping moisture in mound and plate areas.  Proper moisture management is key to mound and plate clay performing properly.  Keep tarps on mound and plate areas at all times when not in use.

#SmartTurf Tip - Use surveyor nails to keep tarps on the ground.


Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Replacing a Homeplate Without a Surveyor


The homeplate of a baseball/softball field is the point where all other points are based.  (foul poles, bases, pitching rubber, etc)  So, when the time comes to replace a plate, take special care to ensure that the new plate is square with the foul poles and the field alignment is not compromised. 

Let’s walk through a plate replacement.  
First, string lines are pulled from behind the old plate to the foul poles.  This is done before the old plate is removed:



Next, a laser is used to take elevations around homeplate.  I always like to have the homeplate slightly higher than the highest point in the turf.  This will ensure that water will not run back onto the plate during rain events:



A string line is also pulled from behind the apex of the plate, through the middle of the pitchers rubber and the middle of the anchor of 2nd base.  This is the third string to ensure proper alignment.  Keep in mind that when the elevation of the plate in changed, the pitching rubber elevation should be checked and adjusted if necessary:



Finally, carefully install mound clay around the plate making sure that the plate does not move:



To see how to renovate a plate on a budget, click HERE:

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Building a Set of Base Anchors - Do Not Use Coffee Cans

I was on the road last week renovating an infield when I came across this base anchor


SmartTurf Tip - Do NOT use coffee cans for base anchors.  The have a tendency to spin and are not the recommended method.

Below is the recommended method for constructing base anchors.

Building a set of base anchors is a task that can be completed by a grounds manager or coach.  Here is a step by step method for building a set of base anchors.

1.  Organize the parts and the tools.  Items needed:

  • Base anchors
  • Duct tape
  • Screws
  • Drill
  • Tape measure
  • Circular saw
  • Scrap lumber 2x4 
  • Shovel
  • Quikrete
  • Wheelbarrow


2. Cut the scrap lumber into 8-12 inch pieces, and build a simple square form.   Keep in mind that this is not cabinet grade carpentry.  




3.  Tape the bottom of the anchors while mixing the Quikrete.  Using a scrap piece of plywood as a base, place an anchor in each form.  




4.  After the Quikrete cures (no more than 4 hours) remove the forms.  Now, you have a new set of base anchors.



Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The J&D Turf Infield Mix Moisture and Conditioner Key

How often are the following questions raised?

1. How much conditioner should I apply to an infield?
2. Do I need to add conditioner to my infield?
3. How much water should I add to my infield?
4. Is there enough moisture in my infield profile?

Having a J&D Turf infield moisture and conditioner key will provide a tool to assist in answering these questions.




First, let's talk about infield moisture.  Infield mixes perform best at optimum moisture levels.  HERE is a previous link on watering an infield.  Use the key can check infield moisture levels by using the simple "key test"

"Insert the end of the key into the mix.  The key should slide into the ,ix with relative ease to a depth of 1-2 inches and be removed with disturbing the material.  If the key cannot penetrate the infield mix, the base material is too dry."




Next, let's talk about conditioner depth. HERE is a previous post discussing different infield conditioners.  Infield mixes perform best when conditioners are maintained within a optimum range. That range is 1/4-1/2 inch.  Use the key to determine conditioner depth.

"Insert the key into conditioner and check conditioner depth against the measuring lines at the tip of the key.  The optimum depth is approximately 1/4 inch."




Using the J&D Turf infield mix moisture and conditioner key is #SmartTurf.

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Monday, March 6, 2017

Applying Pre-Emergents to Sports Turf

Spring is just around the corner and with spring comes the arrival of crabgrass control applications. The use of crabgrass pre-emergent herbicides on sports turf must be carefully considered. Will I need to overseed in the spring? Will I need to overseed the entire field or just certain areas? Is the option to overseed more important than crabgrass pressure later in the summer? All good questions, let’s work to an answer.

 HOW DO THE PRODUCTS WORK?
First of all, let’s take a look at how crabgrass pre-emergent products work.
Research has shown that applications should be made when average daily soil temperatures reach 57 to 64 degrees at a 1 inch depth. Following application, a barrier will form that will inhibit crabgrass seedling emergence.
Keep in mind, the barrier will also inhibit grass seed emergence! How do you know when you should apply if you do not want to check daily soil temperatures? Simply go to the Growing Degree Day Tracker. (GDD Tracker) The tracker is a joint effort from Michigan State TurfgrassPurdue Turfgrass and the Midwest Regional Turf Foundation (MRTF). The GDD Tracker will provide updates on when the product needs to be applied. Typically, pre-emergent products need to be applied prior to April 1 in the southern third of the state of Indiana, by April 15 in the middle third, and by April 30 in the northern third.
WHAT ARE THE BEST PRE-EMERGENT OPTIONS?
So, the plan is to apply a crabgrass pre-emergent herbicide product. The timing has been determined. Now the question is, “What product should I apply?”
To keep it simple consider two products:
1. Dithiopyr (Dimension)
2. Prodiamine (Barricade)
Advanced Turf Solutions offers both products. Please call for options as the products are available in both granular and liquid formulations.
I MISSED MY APPLICATION. CAN POST-EMERGENT APPLICATIONS BE MADE?
Yes. Careful consideration should be made to select the best products as some pre-emergent products (Prodiamine) will not be effective. My recommendation for early season (April through early May) is Dithiopyr as the product is effective on crabgrass in the one to three leaf stage. Liquid applications are recommended.
TIP – If dormant seeding was used on the playing surface, a late spring application of Dithiopyr (after the turfgrass seed has germinated) will control young crabgrass while also creating a barrier for any crabgrass seed that has not germinated. Other post-emergent products include Fenoxyprop and Quinclorac (Quin Pro). As always, please check product labels for rates.
TIPS TO REDUCE CRABGRASS PRESSURE:
  • Maintain a dense turf stand
  • Irrigate turfgrass with deep and infrequent cycles
  • More than half of your total nitrogen should be applied from September through November
  • When possible, water in pre-emergent products
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE A PRE-EMERGENT HERBICIDE APPLICATION:
  • Do I need to overseed?
  • Should I avoid high traffic areas where I know I will be overseeding?
  • Would I rather overseed or control crabgrass?

Download the printable Smart Turf sheet - Pre-Emergent Herbicides: Timing is Critical

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Growing Degree Day Tracker - A Great Tool to Use to Determine Application Timing

Exceptional late winter/early spring warm is present across the Midwest.  Due to this, spring applications are weeks ahead of schedule.  A grounds manager can track growing degree days (GDD), but the easiest way to follow the GDD progress is to use the Growing Degree Day Tracker  brought to you by the Midwest Regional Turf Foundation and Purdue Turfgrass.   This tool is a great way to assist you decision making on crabgrass control applications and many other applications of time sensitive products.



Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Adding New Material to a Homeplate Edge


Creating and maintaining clean and smooth edges are critical for a safe and playable surface.  Furthermore, smooth and level edges will ensure successful movement of water via surface drainage. 

Many softball fields have a conical grade.  A conical grade moves water in all directions for a center point on the infield.  Typically the grade is at .3%.  With that said, all edges need to be at grade to allow water to exit the playing surface.  Any irregularities will “create a dam” on the edge.  The following photos were from a recent project on a softball field in Cape Girardeau, MO.


How is this issue repaired?  A few simple grade shots, additional material and a 2x4.

First, grade shots were taken to ensure grades were met via a conical laser at the plate and the grass edge.  Next a 2x4 was used to bridge the area to determine/verify areas that were below grade.





Conditioner/Pro Slide was pulled away to expose the existing infield mix.


DuraEdge Classic was placed and “boarded” to ensure the correct amount of infield mix/DuraEdge Classic was present.


Then, the new material was blended into the existing material with a small tiller.



The material was then re-leveled with the board and rolled.



Finally, the conditioner/Pro Slide was placed back over the area. 


A clean and level edge is now present.


Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer