“Work smarter, not harder” isn’t just a snappy expression; it’s a useful philosophy that stresses the importance of being efficient, cost-effective, and diligent in whatever you do. And it’s definitely a practice that can and should be applied to sports turf management.
Whether you manage a professional sports field or a small municipal or school field, you are responsible for its health and playability (and loosely, the safety of the players), purchasing products, maintenance of complex equipment, training of your grounds crew, and much more. If you have yet to develop or streamline your sports field maintenance plan, now is the time!
Our experienced and trusted Sports Field Team has helpful best practices and product recommendations for creating or optimizing an effective and efficient maintenance program.
Why is a sports field maintenance program important?
There’s a reason restaurant chefs make prep lists and construction foremen use blueprints and construction plans. Being organized from a high level ensures nothing is overlooked and allows managers to find ways to complete the job more efficiently and develop contingency plans should issues arise.
The same applies to sports field maintenance and management. Having a maintenance program in place can reduce costs and save time by ensuring your workers know exactly what to do and when, as well as optimizing the health of the field by offering consistent care.
The following tips will assist in developing a sound sports field maintenance program or guide you in making adjustments to the one you already have.
Determine the cadence of specific tasks
To begin, you should identify the tasks and duties that must be performed throughout the season and how often these will occur. This will include the specific cadences for mowing, irrigation, fertilization, aeration, soil testing, pest control, and other activities specific to the field type and particular climate.
Once you’ve created this list, you can develop a schedule for maintenance activities. Be sure to factor in weather conditions. For example, if it’s particularly rainy, you may need to adjust when you apply wetting agents or fertilizers and how often you mow, repaint, apply herbicide, and more.
Train your team
It’s vital to ensure that all your crew members are consistently, correctly, and safely performing sports field maintenance. Make sure your team has the necessary knowledge to do their duties. Then, clearly establish how you want these activities done, and what protective equipment to wear, when needed.
Furthermore, employers and managers should invest in their employees by honing their skills and industry knowledge. Keep your team apprised of the latest industry practices and products. If possible, send your crewmembers to field days, enroll them in seminars and newsletters, or find other ways to bolster their knowledge of the sports field management industry as a whole. This will create a crew that is not only engaged in their duties but also an asset to your company and the industry itself.
Contributing to the education of your crewmembers may also prevent a dip in team morale because the workers will be valued for more than physical labor, they will also become more productive members of the team.
Re-evaluate your plan
Once your plan is in place, it might need to be revisited or changed throughout the season, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The ability to adjust and adapt is important in the sports field maintenance industry. If there is room for improvement, make adjustments to optimize the health and beauty of the field.
Use efficient products and equipment
Applications of wetting agents, fertilizers, growth regulators, and more can gobble up a lot of daylight as well as add wear and tear to equipment and crewmembers. You can streamline the required applications with the use of the right product at the right time.
Wetting agents facilitate the soil’s ability to efficiently use and distribute water. This helps conserve the use of water and the amount of work required by decreasing the number of times your crew will need to water the field. It can be applied to troublesome spots or the entire playing surface as needed. Our team recommends wetting agents like Mitchell – Terafirm Soil Penetrant.
Learn more about wetting agents in our recent blog on wetting agents.
For example, EC Grow – 40-0-3 85% EPEC 40 Fertilizer, a polymer-coated urea designed for precision and consistency, can reduce the number of regular applications, which will save your crew valuable time and money.
Another way to reduce the amount of work on your crew’s schedule is through the use of growth regulators, which can slow the growth of turfgrass in order to improve the appearance and playability of sports fields. This also reduces the cadence of field mowing and line painting.
Our Sports Turf Team is readily available to chat or offer product recommendations if you want to learn more!
Are you working with a limited staff? It’s completely understandable that you may not have the coverage needed to complete the required work. Robotic mowers are a great way to cover the deficit or cut back on the physical labor required by your crew, which can help boost morale if they are struggling through a long and hot season.
Fortunately, robotic mowers are becoming more affordable for smaller venue sports fields, so it’s a feasible possibility in the near future, if not now. They are powerful, quiet, and an awesome tool to help manage your grass, even if you are understaffed.
Automatic Line Painters
For sports fans, going to the ballpark can be an extraordinary experience. It’s where miracles happen and champions are crowned. They expect the field to be a lush healthy green and the logos and line markers to be pristine. This is why crews dedicated a lot of time before each game repainting them. Automatic Line Painters or Sprayers are a fantastic way to save sweat equity while still getting the job done. These cutting-edge tools will map your field and use internal GPS to paint it with precision.
Admittedly, the upfront investment is not a small one—though prices are bound to drop as they increase in popularity—but the ROI will be well worth it.
Reinders can help!
If you are looking for products or advice to help optimize your sports field maintenance program, contact us or shop Reinders.com