January 2014

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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Facility & Operations | By John C. Fech Managing trees, shrubs and other ornamentals at sports facilities rnamentals play a significant role in the overall success of a sports facility. To many spectators, the enjoyment of their game attendance is influenced as much or more by the aesthetics and function of the landscape at the facility as it is by the turf or outcome of the contest. This article will provide the sports turf manager with some of the tools and techniques to successfully manage the ornamentals at their facility. O ORNAMENTAL PLANT MAINTENANCE HIERARCHY In the overall scheme of maintenance activities at a sports facility, a hierarchy exists. Depending on the size, WELL PLACED shade trees at a sports facility. All photos by John C. Fech, UNL. intensity of management and range of teams that are routinely using it as well as the number of practice, game and tournament quality fields that are present, varied levels of time are spent on different parts of a given complex for care of the turf. The same is true for trees, shrubs, groundcovers, perennials, annuals and containers. The important consideration is to recognize the hierarchy and devote time accordingly. For example, a high-interest tournament field might have adjacent shade trees, container plantings and shrub/perennial beds to care for routinely basis, while a practice field has little to nothing in the way or ornamentals associated with it. A thoughtful differentiation within the hierarchy is certainly a worthwhile endeavor. SIMPLE MAINTENANCE PLAN FOR THE SPORTS FACILITY Once the hierarchy has been established, a simple maintenance plan is a natural second step. It can be set up field by field or by groups of plant material…either is fine as long as it gets accomplished. Just like a schedule for aeration, overseeding, irrigation, fertilization, mowing, disease/insect monitoring and other important aspects of field maintenance, a plan should be set up for ornamentals. Many sports turf managers have found it useful to establish a calendar format and conduct maintenance duties for both turf and ornamentals accordingly. Each month, a calendar is posted in the maintenance shed with an outline of the jobs and projects in the weeks and months to come. Written with grease pencil and a white board or a simple poster on a wall, these tools provide a helpful reference for all employees at the facility. Pruning shrubs, replacing mulch, planting bulbs, inspecting for disease and insects, removing weeds and monitoring the sprinkler systems are examples of items to be attended to in a simple maintenance plan. SOILS AND FERTILITY All plants in the sports turf landscape are not the same. On average, ornamentals require about a third to a fourth as much water and fertilizer as turf. As such, they should be cared for differently. Rooting depth tends to be 14 SportsTurf | January 2014

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