Maintenance Guidelines Schedule

The following outline is offered only as a guide. Depending on weather fluctuations, location within the state, and localized conditions, this schedule may vary as much as plus or minus 2 to 4 weeks, especially as regards timing of operations and applications of materials. This outline is suggested for use on general athletic fields and fields that primarily receive late summer and fall use. Fields receiving spring and early summer use only, such as baseball fields, may require slightly different sequence of operations. The maintenance schedule will vary with the type of field construction. Sand fields, for example, will require a more intensive fertilization and irrigation program than will soil fields. Soil fields normally require a more intensive aeration program than will sand fields.

Late February to late March

Seeding on honeycomb (where feasible). Apply seed in early morning when soil is frozen and is expected to thaw during the day. Divide total amount of seed to be sown into three to four equal lots and apply on three to four different mornings. Use a certified variety of turf type perennial ryegrass or a blend of certified turf type perennial ryegrasses. Seeding rate may vary from 1 to 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet depending on existing turf density.

Soil test. Soil test mailing kits are available from your county Extension Service office. Be sure the sample submitted is representative of the entire area.

April to early May

Clean up.Collect any debris that has collected over the winter months such as leaves, paper, and other trash.

Aerate six to ten times over with a spoon type or hollow tine type aerator that removes soil cores. Do not use spiker type equipment.

Overseed or reseed. Overseed (where some turf exists) immediately following aeration. When it is available, use a disk type turfgrass seeder to cut the seed into the soil. If a disk seeder is not available, broadcast seed evenly over the area. Immediately follow either seeding method with some form of covering operation. Use a drag mat, flexible tine harrow, or weighted piece of chain link fence. Use same seed and rate as recommeneded for seeding on the honeycomb.

Reseed where no turf exists. Lightly disk the area to provide a seedbed. Then broadcast seed, rake, or drag lightly to cover seed, and roll lightly to put seed in firm contact with the soil. Use same seed as above at full 5 pounds per 1,000 square foot rate.

Mow as needed. Cut at height of 2 to 3 inches. Never remove more than one-third of the total leaf surface at a given mowing. Keep mowing equipment sharp and properly adjusted.

Mid April to early May

Crabgrass control, preemergence. Application date for preemergence crabgrass control materials varies greatly with weather conditions. Apply material when soil temperature in the surface inch reaches 60ºF (16ºC). If area has been overseeded or reseeded, siduron (Tupersan) is the only preemergence material that may be used. When siduron is used a second application at approximately one-half rate must be made 4 to 6 weeks after the initial application. If area has not been seeded DCPA (Dacthal), bensulide (Betasan), or benefin (Balan) may be useful for the preemergence crabgrass control.

Mow as needed.

Early to late May

Fertilize. Fertilization should be withheld until leafspot conditions (cool, wet weather) subside and should be based on soil test results. In lieu of a soil test, follow guideline fertilizer programs. Use a turf type fertilizer containing 30 percent or more water-insoluable nitrogen (WIN), derived from ureaform, IBDU, or a natural organic; or controlled release nitrogen (CRN), derived from sulfur coated urea.

Mow as needed.


Chickweed and/or knotweed control. Apply 2,4-D plus mecoprop (MCPP) or 2,4-D plus dicamba (Banvel). Do not use if area has been seeded.

Disease control. High quality fields containing high Kentucky bluegrass populations may require fungicide applications for leafspot control. Two to four applications at 10- to 14-day intervals may be required. Recommended fungicides include anilazine (Dyrene), chlorothalonil (Daconil 2787 WP or F), cycloheximide (Actidione), iprodione (Chipco 26019), and maneb fungicides (Maneb WP, Tersan LSR, Fore).

Insect control. If a heavy white grub (Japanese beetle, Northern Masked Chafer, May-June beetle) population has been carried over from the previous fall it may be necessary to apply an insecticide at this time. Recommended insecticides include isofenphos (Oftanol), diazanon (Diazanon), chlorpyrifos (Dursban), and trichlorfon (Dylox, Proxol).

Mow as needed.

Throughout summer

Fertilize. The use of fertilizers containing soluable nitrogen or less than 30 percent WIN or CRN will necessitate more frequent applications. Sand fields, regardless of nitrogen source, will require more fertilizer applications than soil fields. See the suggested guidelines found earlier in this publication.

Crabgrass control, postemergence.If preemergence control was not applied it may be necessary to apply at postemergence herbicide. Two to five applications may be required depending on the pattern of crabgrass germination. Materials should be applied only when there is adequate soil moisture and air temperatures do not exceed 80°F. Do not apply if area has been spring seeded. Recommended materials include a number of methanearsonates (AMA, DSMA, CMA, MAMA, MSMA).

Knotweed control. Do not apply knotweed control herbicides if area was spring seeded. Control may be obtained until approximately the end of June with mecoprop (MCPP). Beyond this date it will be necessary to use dicamba (Banvel).

Clover control. Mecoprop (MCPP) or dicamb (Banvel) may be used for clover control. Do not apply if area has been spring seeded.

Mow as needed.

Irrigate as needed. Amount of water applied and frequency of irrigation depend upon soil type and natural rainfall. If drought occurs and irrigation is initiated, continue to water throughout the drought period. During drought periods sandy soils wil require approximately 1/3 to ½ inch of water every 2 to 3 days, loam soils will require approximately ¾ inch of water every 5 to 6 days and heavy soils will require approximately 1½ inches of water every 8 to 10 days.

White grub control. Ther most serious white grub infestation normally are the occurence of Japanese beetle grubs from mid-August until the soil begins to freeze in the fall. If isofenphos (Oftanol) is used it should be applied in mid to later July for most effective control. If an application of isofenphos was made in the spring there will be sufficient carryover to control the later summer infestation. If either diazinon (Diazinon), chlorpyrifos (Dursban), or trichlorfon (Dylox, Proxol) is used it should be applied about September 1 to 10.

If the area becomes infested with grubs of the black turfgrass ataenius, the grubs will be most prevalent in June through mid July. Insecticide should be applied as soon as grubs are observed.

Late August to early September

Aerate lightly (one to three passes) and drag to break up cores. Irrigation may be necessary prior to aeration to obtain maximum spoon or tine penetration.

Weed control. Broadleaf weeds can be controlled at this time with 2,4-D. Do not attempt to control crabgrass or knotweed at this time. Clover can be controlled at this time with mecoprop (MCPP).

Mow as needed.

Irrigate as needed. It is suggested the field be kept low in soil moisture for games and irrigated after use.

Mid September to mid October

Aerate and overseed. Some superintendents find it beneficial to lightly aerate (one pass) and lightly overseed (¼ to ½ pound per 1,000 square feet) with turf type perennial ryegrass every week or two during the fall playing season, especially prior to or just following game use.

Mow as needed.

Irrigate as needed.

Thatch build-up is seldom a problem on athletic fields.

Mid November to early December

Aerate six to ten times over, with a spoon type or hollow tine type aerator at the close of the fall playing season.

Basic fertilization. If a soil test indicates additional amounts of phosphate and/or postash are required due to low soil levels apply these materials immediately following aeration.

Lime. If a soil test indicates the need for lime, apply the required amount of ground agricultural limestone just prior to or immediately following aeration.

Dormant seeding. Some superintendents feel that domant seedings at this time are beneficial. The success of dormant seedings is highly dependent on winter weather conditions. Mild, wet spells may cause rotting of the seed. Dormant seedings normally are not highly successful.

The following should be included under the above heading Late August to early September

Fertilize. Apply fertilizer in accordance with soil test results. In lieu of a soil test, follow guideline Fertilizer Program 1 found earlier in this publication.

Prepared by John C. Harper II, professor emeritus of agronomy.