Abby Wambach, co-captain of the World Cup Champion U.S. Women’s Soccer team, recently continued voicing her perspective on the importance of providing natural turf playing fields for soccer players of all levels and ages. As a natural grass advocate and maintenance advisor, I am excited to see natural grass fields come into the forefront of the conversation.
Healthy turf is one part of sports that doesn’t get a lot of game time. There may be some misconceptions out there about natural grass. For instance, you might think that natural grass athletic fields are expensive to maintain and can’t take a lot of use. In fact, natural grass fields cost less to build and maintain than synthetic turf; and with the proper maintenance, they cannot only take more use, they provide a safer and better playing experience for our athletes.
Professionals like me have dedicated our careers to learning about natural grass field maintenance and we are passionate about sharing our knowledge with others. Whether you’re a professional athletic field groundskeeper, or you want to learn about how to maintain the field in your high school or local park, here are some ways to care for grass to keep the game going, longer:
- Technology Is On Our Side – Innovation in this space is really exciting. We are doing things that were considered impossible even two years ago! There are new varieties of grass available today that can take twice as much play as older varieties, with the same maintenance and play conditions. Being open to doing things differently and exploring the new developments out there can really make a big difference.
- Regular Aeration and Cultivation for Softer, More Playable Fields – Water and air are important for the health of your soil. Increasing the number of times a field is aerated softens the soil so grass can grow, and it also makes the ground softer, so when an athlete hits the field, it’s safer. Softer fields are also better at letting water in, decreasing rainouts.
- Proper Maintenance Gets You More Game – Use the proper fertilizer and pesticide solutions to keep your grass healthy. With proper use, the technology we have today can produce thicker strands of grass with fewer weeds. Pest control solutions can solve or prevent specific problems. A healthy plant will suffer less from heavy use so it doesn’t require as much to recover, so our athletes can continue to get more game time.
Grass can take a lot more traffic than we give it credit for. Using better technology, creative thinking, and maintaining our fields properly keeps them green and healthy, and keeps the fun going for our athletes.
This is a guest post written by Jerad Minnick. Minnick is a natural grass sport field advisor and agronomist. He is currently the Lead Advisor of the Natural Grass Advisory Group.