Fighting Turf Overuse

Worn spots on the playing field are the bane of every turf manager, even in the National Football League. While facilities managers won’t have the resources to rival those of a NFL team, fighting turf overuse is just as important to keep high-traffic areas looking great.

As temperatures drop in the fall, maintaining turf in high-traffic areas becomes more difficult, so facilities managers should begin now to ensure their fields’ surfaces are as close to perfect as possible.

  • Limit Activity in High-Traffic Areas: Keep tromping feet off the most highly worn spots on your field whenever possible. Push warm-up activities to sidelines, and keep goalies and teams from running drills in the center of fields or in front of the goal box.
  • Promote Growth Ahead of Time: It seems basic, but the more healthy your turf is going into fall, the better chance it has to resist overuse. Fertilize regularly and, if possible, fence off areas for a couple weeks before the season to give turf a chance to grow.
  • Keep Soil From Compacting: In areas that players wear down to bare earth soil compaction becomes a problem: Hardened, compacted soil doesn’t drain, making turf recovery all but impossible.
  • Overseed: Distribute large amounts of seed throughout high-traffic areas on a weekly basis. While many seeds won’t germinate, overseeding tips the balance in spontaneous germination.
  • Rotate Warm-Up and Pregame Practice Areas: Much warmup and pregame activity takes place right in front of the players’ bench. Encourage coaches to move activities around the field to prevent overuse.

Maintaining healthy turf during the fall and winter is a balance of facilities management and behavioral changes from coaches and players. Make sure you’re communicating the need to keep turf good for game day to athletic staff so your efforts to fight turf overuse aren’t undermined by, well, overuse.