The Mercer Group


Mercer Group, Your Ohio Sports Turf Contractor


FanFile MAGAZINE - Article 3

If…you want to take better care of your own facility, here’s some things you might want to know about better turf management, courtesy of the experts. Ted Mercer, of the Mercer Group, and Evergreen’s Joe Duncan list the top “toughies” on turf!

1. Which is tougher on sports turf…soccer or football?… According to Mercer, it’s soccer by a long shot. “The continual scuffing of the field when the ball is kicked really creates more divots and scrapes than football,” he says. “With football you have wear between the hash marks and where they kick extra points…but soccer is played over the entire field.”

2. Lack of timely feeding… Grass is like everything else that lives, it must be fed…and in a timely fashion. “You see a field with poor color and you know it hasn’t had the nutrition (nitrogen) it needs,” says Mercer. “You need good nutrition to have strong roots, and strong root systems give you the color you want as well as disease resistance.”

3. Poor mowing…According to Mercer, many people fail to mow properly during the summer. “They think they’re doing a turf surface a favor it they mow it like their lawn,” he says. “In reality, if you let the grass grow too high, it shades the divots you’re trying to regrow from seeding.” Evergreen president, Joe Duncan adds this. “A good playing field should be mowed a minimum of twice a week, with the sharpest mower blade you can find. A dull mower shatters the end of the grass stem, which weakens the plant and increases the risk of disease.”

4. Too much irrigation…Turf needs water to live, but like anything else…it has to be properly monitored. “Even when we have adequate rainwater, you see people irrigating…and that’s not good for turf,” says Duncan. “Too much water creates fungus problems and shallow rooting…two things that will kill a field when you start playing on it.”

5. Drainage…According to every turf expert you find, you can’t maintain a good surface where you have poor drainage. “Grass needs moisture, yes,” says Mercer, “but it can’t survive standing water. You either have to fix it or fight turf problems like disease and crabgrass all your life.”

Good mowing practices go a long way towards better turf.

6. Topsoil…Believe it or not, the stuff that grows a good yard or garden is not what what you want for athletic playing fields. Ideally a sub-surface that about 75% sand is ideal. It drains better, helps resist disease and is easier to reseed come spring and summer if you have to fill in divots. Management companies like the Mercer Group specialize in what they call, “amended” soil playing fields.

7. Weeds…It’s no different than what you grow in your garden. Weeds compete for moisture, nutrients and root space. Again the disease issue comes up. According to experts, the more weeds you have the greater the risk of disease and insects…not to mention, a field you won’t want to look at.

8. Too many kinds of grasses…What? Believe it, you can have too many good kinds of grass growing at one time on the same field. “Many fields have “poa annua” grass, or some bermuda mixed in with the bluegrass,” says Tom Mercer, “and there can be a conflict in moisture and environmental requirements. Where “poa” needs cooler weather and more moisture during the daylight hours, the bluegrass can withstand hotter conditions and evening moisture. One can die out and leave you with a patchy surface come fall playing season. It’s best to have one consistent grass type when at all possible.”

9. Unrealistic traffic…It may seem like stating the obvious, but a grass playing field can only stand so much. “Some schools only have one field that they have to use for football, soccer, band practice and whatever else they do,” says Mercer. “In some cases you have to come to a decision if you want a good surface… of cutting back on the amount of use, or going to an artificial surface like they’ve done in some areas, specifically Cincinnati and Columbus.”

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Ted S. Mercer
Mercer Group, Inc.
Athletic Field Contractors
P O Box 771
Troy, OH 45373
(937) 335-7100

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