Helping Fall-use Athletic Fields – Turfgrass Science at Purdue University

Helping Fall-use Athletic Fields

Fall use athletic fields are taking a beating right now. To help those fields, fertilizing aggressively with 1.0 lb N in September and again in October will help. Fertilizing is the most inexpensive but effective way to improve any sports field. Though it’s easier said than done, aerifying during extended breaks in practices or games will also help. Even if you have to use solid tines to minimize the mess of aerification cores, solid tine aerification is far better than no aereification. Overseeding with perennial ryegrass during the season can also help maintain density. After the last game or practice is when you should work hardest to improve the field. Aggressive hollow-tine aerification, pulling 20 – 40 holes/sq. ft. is a must. Combine this with overseeding perennial ryegrass on fields that have to be used again next April and May, overseeding Kentucky bluegrass on fields that won’t be used until June or July. This is generally a dormant seeding that won’t germinate until spring, so apply a starter fertilizer next spring once soil temperatures reach 55 degrees and be careful with herbicide use this fall and next spring. Finally, an early November application of urea at 1.0 to 1.25 lbs N/1000 sq. ft. will improve the health of the grass plants that survived the rigors of the season. Much more information is available in AY-31: Construction and Maintenance of Soccer Fields in Indiana at

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