Grounds managers put in countless hours — they’re up at the crack of dawn and heading home as the sun sets. Expectations are always on the rise. Budgets? Not so much. How can you establish and maintain high-quality turfgrass when you’re short on staff and your budget is shrinking? It can be a thankless job, often times only receiving feedback when a board member or parent deems something incorrect or hazardous.
Whether you’re a tenured turf manager or just beginning in the industry, we’re here to share some tips on how to work with what you have and keep your turf, course, or sports field green and thriving.
1. Don't Be Afraid Of Innovation
Whether it’s new technology or new maintenance practices, there’s always going to be a lot of innovation in the industry; so sticking to the way you have always done things can actually hurt your efficiency in the long run. Being open to try new things and even actively looking for new ways to tend to your turf will not only keep you up to date with what is new in the industry, but will also help you develop your own optimal plan to care for your course or field.
2. Schedule Things As Far In Advance As Possible
In any management role it’s incredibly important to have a schedule or plan for the future; however, as a grounds manager having just one plan sometimes isn’t enough due to equipment breaking down or poor weather. This makes having a 12 month maintenance plan almost a necessity so you can begin to prepare equipment and product that you will need for the maintenance task in advance so if catastrophe does strike you can have a backup plan ready when the time comes to perform.
3. Tackle The Little Things Before They Become Big
Small hiccups are unavoidable most of the time, but making sure that they get resolved quickly and stay as just small, isolated issues is one of the most important aspects of the job. Even though they may seem very small at the time, it is always better to invest the small amount of time it will take to fix the problem immediately rather than let it fester and turn into something that takes up a whole day or even longer.
4. Keeping Your Grass Plants Cool And Thriving
Now that we are in the middle of the hottest part of our year, one of the most important things you can do as a turf grass manager is cooling your turf. The easiest way to do this is by applying a light amount of water right before the hottest time in the afternoon (around 2 PM). This means that, if you have an in ground irrigation system, all you have to do is turn your system on to give you about .05” of water to lightly cover the turf and create evaporation cooling. Note that if you add too much water and flood the turf you can end up creating scald and cooking your grass.
5. Build And Maintain A Network of Trusted Sports Professionals
The turf industry is very different from many other professions as your fellow managers are actually seen as resources who are willing to help and have faced many of the same situations and experiences that you have. This means that networking, especially with those who may have been in the industry longer, is one of the most important things you should emphasize throughout your career. Also understand that there is a difference between education that you have received through your schooling and hands on experience. Although both are equally valuable, finding the balance between knowledge from both of these areas is essential and can be accomplished through the relationships you can build in the turf industry.