The grass on a soccer field endures a significant amount of damage compared to a residential lawn. Soccer cleats, slide tackles and high-speed sprints will break apart grass and compact the soil. It's common for soccer fields to develop areas of dead grass or areas where the soil is exposed due to this constant traffic.
At the same time, maintaining grass coverage with a consistent height is important for players — uneven fields affect the way the soccer ball moves over the grass in addition to being unattractive. It's important to practice proper turf management in order to provide players with a good competitive experience. Below, you'll find three tips to help you keep your soccer field in great condition.
1. Overseed Bare Spots Frequently Throughout the Year
The cleats that soccer players wear will inevitably dig up sections of grass from the soil, resulting in bare spots. You'll notice this most frequently in the goal area and in the middle of the field since they receive the most traffic. You can reduce the chances of bare patches appearing on the field by overseeding it frequently — it's best to do this year-round rather than limiting turfgrass seeding to the growing season. Even slowly growing grass helps to cover up bare patches.
It's best to use a drop seeder in order to apply your turfgrass blend to the field. Broadcast grass seed over any bare patches that have formed, and then make sure you irrigate the field the day after you've overseeded it — young grass needs to be watered quickly in order to take root.
2. Avoid Oversaturating Your Soil
Your soccer field's irrigation schedule needs to change according to weather patterns. Soccer fields should typically be watered three times a week. If it has been raining daily, you don't need to run your own irrigation system. It's easier to over-water a field rather than under-water it, and this has significant negative effects on a soccer field. If players compete on a waterlogged field, their cleats will create deep, muddy gouges in the field. These gouges are often deep enough to destroy turfgrass' root system, leaving large bare patches that regrow very slowly.
Water very early in the day in order to make sure that the field is completely dry before it's played on, and cut down on your irrigation if you have been receiving frequent rains.
3. Keep Your Grass at a Height of Two to Three Inches During Off-Season
It's best to keep the turfgrass on your soccer field at least two or three inches tall. Tall turfgrass grows a deeper, thicker root system that prevents weeds from growing in the field. Weed management can be difficult for soccer fields because of the need to constantly overseed them — herbicides used to kill weeds will kill germinating turfgrass as well. Keeping your turfgrass tall helps to crowd out weeds and reduce reliance on pesticides.
However, it's likely that the coaches and the players will have their own preferences for how tall the grass on the field should be, especially during the soccer season when they're playing competitively. Tall grass can change the trajectory of a soccer ball unexpectedly, and it also makes it travel slower when it's passed. Players prefer grass to be kept fairly short. A compromise is to keep the grass high during the off-season and then slowly reduce its height in the month leading up to competition season by adjusting your mower blade.
Correct turf management practices help to maintain an even coverage of grass on your soccer field. If you have persistent bare areas in your field or have abundant weed growth, hire professional turf management services to care for your field — turf management is often a complex topic that is handled best by professionals who have experience keeping turfgrass healthy and even.