Deep Tine Aeration-Will it help in our circumstance?

This is a very good question. The purpose of deep tine aeration on both sand and soil based fields is to expand the root zone by promoting better water penetration through the soil profile. On sand based fields it will break up a cemented sand condition and better promote free drainage. In soil based fields it permits the water to penetrate through a surface compacted layer usually 4-8″ deep beneath the playing surface and then move into the sub soil. In most cases the deep tine work will extend the playing season (earlier in the spring and later in the fall) but is not the “panacea” for full winter play. If the field is built on a heavily compacted base which is generally deeper than 12″- it is possible that the deep tine aeration work is of little use and that installing a drainage system will be the best answer. When you are using a solid tine to fracture the soil are you actually relieving compaction? Probably not. We think of relieving compaction when actual soil is removed with a coring tine. It is possible to core with a 1″ tine to a depth of 10″. Deep coring is readily available and will be discussed in a later article. Please keep in mind the fall over-seeding that was addressed in the October “Tips” article. You can still have seed germinating well into November with some of the new cold temperature germinating ryegrasses.

If you would like to further discuss these comments, please give us a call :
@ 503-692-1195, and ask for Dick @ ext 2 or Damon @ext 6.

Don’t fertilize too late!

The soil temperatures will soon be reaching the 53-55 F. degree mark. At this point the grass plants will be able to start using the fertilizer more effectively. In the northwest this usually coincides with the advent of Spring. The day length is at least equal to the night length and therefore this warming happens rather consistently. If you have been using a fertilizer sparingly throughout the cool months I am sure have seen some results. This is due to the shallow surface roots being able to warm instantly due to the solar energy. Now we are talking about the top 2″ and deeper – the effective root zone of the grass plant. By applying fertilizer when the entire plant can respond you are maximizing your dollars spent and your time to do it.

Turf Aeration-Vital to the grass plant.

For the grass plant – if you only had one thing you could provide for the whole year – besides water and fertilizer – it should be aeration. After a wet spring and heavy foot traffic the compactions is severe and introducing air into the root zone by removing a soil core makes it possible to go for another season. It is like giving the turf a jump start. The aeration has given the roots the oxygen they need to thrive. By aerating as early as practical in the Spring you are giving the turf the best shot at staying playable for the balance of the season.


The soil test is one of the best money savings tools that is available to those involved in managing turf grass sports fields. All of us who are involved in maintaining turf grass sports fields are well aware of the necessity of fertilizer. Unfortunately, this is often the weakest link in the maintenance program. In many cases, quantity is often mistaken for choosing the right nutrients to get the best result for the amount applied. If the proper balance of nutrients is not available to the grass plant – it will not have a fighting chance of surviving the tremendous traffic demands. Furthermore, a person may be applying fertilizer that has only limited uptake by the plant because the soil may be too acetic or basic. The soil test will show the soil ph often an application of lime to correct the soil ph will save you an additional application of fertilizer. Ideally, a ph ranging from 6.2-6.4 seems the best range of microbial health and nutrient availability.

Soil testing

It is wise to use the same laboratory every time you make a soil test. The data is easier to compare if it is in the same form year after year. The initial soil test that you take will be the benchmark from where you assess your progress. Lastly, when taking the samples to be tested it is important that you keep the depth to the effective root zone of the plant. This is usually no deeper than 4″. The sample you submit should contain soil from at least 5 places across the field.

If you would like to further discuss these comments, please give us a call
@ 503-692-1195, and ask for Dick @ ext 2 or Damon @ext 6.

Did you roll your seed?

In the Northwest we are approaching the ideal time of year to plant grass seed if you are intending to get as much help from Mother Nature as possible. Early Fall offers a period of time when the temperatures and precipitation are not in the extremes. (except this week) In general it is the easiest time to establish turf without a great deal of effort.

After seed bed preparation and seeding – the next most important operation is rolling the seed. This is often treated lightly when in all reality it is extremely important. The seed needs to be placed in tight contact with the soil or growing medium in order to keep the moisture that is present moving freely between the soil particle and the seed – otherwise the seeds will dry out prematurely and germination will be limited.

A roller I found to be very effective was not actually a roller but the knobby tires that are found on many ATV’s(all terrain vehicles). The seed is pressed down by the knobby tread and the indentation left by the tread helps hold the moisture. You have fun running the ATV and it really works well.

The Effectiveness of Rain Water on Turf

In an earlier Turf Tip we discussed the effect of the wet spring on the grass plant root system making it more susceptible to heat stress. A lot of us have seen that happen. When the warm dry weather finally arrived many were drying out much faster than they anticipated. We have received a short reprieve and have an opportunity to catch up. Use the rain water to your advantage.

This is true: Years ago a German rocket scientist, who had designed an irrigation system from tree tops for a golf course, told me that his only problem for making it work like rain was that he could not find a way to give the water droplets a plus charge. He had determined that the plus charge that the rain drops possessed made “natural rain” more effective than irrigation water. He claimed that it jump started the microbial action in the root zone.

Whether or not it is true it made good sense to me. Otherwise what is the explanation as to why rain water seems to give the turf an instant “green up” . The rain water is acting somewhat like a soil penetrant thus wetting the areas that normally shed water. Whenever possible follow the rain with irrigation water rather than letting it dry up completely before you begin irrigating.

From Too Wet to Too Dry- Too Fast : Don’t let this happen to you.

When the warm weather arrives, following this wet spring, often our first reaction is to assume there is enough water present in the soil to sustain the turf for a few days. Unfortunately this spring many sites have been very wet – consequently the grass plants have literally been growing in water. As a result the root systems have not developed to the normal depth that is expected at this time of year. The warm temperatures will place the grass plant under a great deal of stress. Being aware of the plants fragile root system will give you an edge in keeping it healthy.

Looks too Good to Aerate

The best soil penetrant is “Mother’s Nature’s” rain. The minute this rain stops and the hot weather arrives – be ready. As was mentioned in a previous “tip” – shallow roots (due to the plant growing in water all spring) are still being supported by rain water and are flourishing. When the fields look great it is easy to put off aeration. According to recent work done at Oregon State University concerning aids that assist in irrigation water penetration (a myriad of products and practices were tested) aerating still gave the best results. So keep those aerators handy.

“Bill Bugs – they are here”

Possible Bill Bug Damage?

A year ago we saw the center of a well maintained soccer field go into stress and loose 50% of the turf within 2 weeks in July. We assumed that it was the annual bluegrass dying due to heat stress but we were able to determine that it was a Bill Bug larve infestation that was the cause. The grass plants roots were eaten to the point where they could not survive. This month (early May) the field is being treated to control the damaging Bill Bug larve. On your computer type in “ bill bug damage in the NW” if this looks familiar – do something now.

Dry field conditions

This spring has been has been relatively dry. May is what is referred to as a deficit month water wise – meaning that the grass plants require more water than “Mother Nature “ on the average provides. It is for that reason that those irrigation systems should be ready to run and or running now.

Rolling of Sports Fields – Rolling the dice

“To roll” or “not to roll”
Coming into spring we’ve had every type of weather condition imaginable. The great weather in January permitted heavy play on the fields – then the cold snap and wet weather hit and the fields were not only rough from play but could not be mowed which in itself has a smoothing effect. Thus came the need for smoothing to make them safe and playable. From a good field management stand point rolling is “frowned on”. If you feel rolling is mandatory for safety reasons and that logic is good – then be sure to relieve the compaction within several weeks if at all possible. Relieving the compaction is done by aeration both surface top 3” and deeper 4-12” particularly if a heavy roller is used. Soil based fields that have been sanded regularly or sand based fields will rarely need rolling. (The vibrating feature which some rollers are equipped with should not be used in this case)

Extremely wet March – How does this affect the grass plant?

This year be thankful if you have a sand based or well drained sports field. The record setting wet March has certainly slowed down the grass plant root system development both from the super-saturated and cold soil temperature standpoints. Knowing this it would be wise to make a special effort to core aerate as soon as the conditions will allow. Introducing air into the root system will help warm the soil and thus jump start the grass plant. In fact this spring you may wish to consider an even deeper aeration to loosen the compacted layer between 4-7″. This would promote not only deeper root development but more water holding capacity of the soil – thus giving you a longer playing season into the fall.Often times when a field finally dries out after these wet conditions the playing surface will become very hard. The aeration also will assist in the safety of the field countering the hard playing surface condition.

There are certain timely practices that we have found that make managing turf grass fields easier and produce favorable results. We are sending these “Tips” out throughout the season and match the season with the practices. If you have others on your staff that you would like to have receive these “Tips” please contact us through my email.

“The effect of low infill on your Synthetic Turf.”

The infill provides the cushioning of your synthetic field. The surface hardness ( measured by Gmax ) is almost always a direct correlation of your infill levels. The infill levels should be measured regularly and compared to the manufacturer’ s recommendations. How much rubber do you need? As a rule – ½ pound of rubber per sq ft. equates to approximately ¼” of infill per sq ft. For example if an 80,000 sq ft. field is low by an average of ¼” – it will take approximately 40,000 lbs or 20 super sacks of material. It is not recommended that you apply more than 6-10 sacks at any one time – so it may take several applications to get the needed rubber down. Please avoid putting the rubber down in wet conditions or you will have a mess.

Dry spots or Insect Damage?

In an earlier “Tip” we discussed Bill Bug damage prevention. Unfortunately we are now observing either white grub damage or bill bug larve damage in many fields in Western Oregon. If you have been irrigating adequately and you are suspect that you have the problem – grab the turf in a dry spot and it will come up in your hand with no roots. You may even be able to see the white grubs or bill bug larve present at the tear line. If the damage is still spotty there is probably time to treat the problem. The internet is an ideal place to see pictures of this type of damage.