Soccer coaches and players alike don’t need to be told before understanding that the quality of a game or effectiveness of training, mostly boils down to the condition of the soccer field. Soccer is among the sports that demand the playing ground to be in a top-notch condition for optimal performance from players and officials.
Soccer fields are categorized into artificial and natural and the way you are supposed to take care of each of them differs significantly. Natural fields usually require more care and attention than artificial playing fields because they are more prone to the destructive effect of natural and artificial elements.
Properly maintaining a soccer field not only improves the quality of games being played on it but also helps increase the ecstatic feeling of fans while watching matches in the stadium. A soccer field in a bad playing condition can give one of the teams an undue advantage.
A bad field can cause distractions, lack of balance, difficulty in controlling balls, and poor ball response which can hinder players’ efforts in giving accurate passes and shooting balls on target.
For example, puddles trap balls and take away their speed making it harder for a soccer player to score a goal regardless of how fast they kick the ball. It’s not surprising that teams usually spend lots of money and resources to dry the field.
Also, when a field has ditches or irregular surfaces, it can cause the ball to change direction and make it harder for the goalkeeper to catch the ball. Too many errors are bound to occur when a field is in a bad shape, which is why we must endeavor to take proper care of them.
We shall look at some ways of taking good care of soccer fields in this article, including effective ways of keeping them clean, healthy ways of using them, and also how to store your artificial turf to help them last longer.
- How to take care of a soccer field?
- Taking care of natural grass fields
- Maintaining artificial grass fields
How to take care of a soccer field?
Whether you are using natural or artificial turf, it is important to note that for a field maintenance program to be effective, regular and careful inspection of the field must be carried out.
You have to find out the status of the grass in real-time before you can strategize knowledgeable ways of taking proper care of them. The best place to start when taking care of natural grass is by conducting a soil test.
A well-performed soil test can help you ascertain the nutrient value of the soil, the fertilizer needs, and the moisture content of the soil. To avoid wasting much time and resources, with just a few dollars, an extension agent can help you carry out a proper soil test if you aren’t familiar with how to conduct it.
Give the field a quick inspection once every week—even during off-seasons. Due to the size of the soccer field, conducting a weekly inspection of it might be daunting but you should always look at what you stand to gain by conducting such an inspection.
In situations where it may be impossible to complete a weekly inspection of the entire field, you can segment the field using the stripes and carry out segmented inspections.
Taking care of natural grass fields
There are lots of things you would need to consider when taking care of natural turf fields. Aside from rotating matches among different fields to allow worn-out areas to properly heal, there are also other ways of taking care of natural turf fields which we will be looking at in a bit.
Mowing soccer fields isn’t as easy as mowing your lawn. A wrongly mowed soccer pitch can cause an awful lot of damage to the pitch and can even lead to the death of the entire grass. Mowing problems are very common, especially amongst amateur field managers.
The field shouldn’t be allowed to grow too high before mowing because when it grows too high, getting the right measurement while mowing becomes difficult. This will also leave a thick layer of clippings over the grass which can kill it if not properly raked away.
When mowing, cutting off more than one-third of the grass can weaken it and make it susceptible to stress, weeds, diseases, insects, and drought. It is recommended that you cut the grass once or twice every week at a height of about 1 inch starting from May through September.
This is done to maximize the grass’s strength and also encourage the uniform spread of the grass. Remember to raise the cutting height to 2 inches after overseeding in the fall to encourage winter hardiness and also protect bermudagrass during winter.
To check the sharpness of the mower blades, simply pick up a couple of grass blades and take a close look at their cut ends. If they have ragged edges, it is a clear sign that the mower blades need a bit of sharpening. Dull mower blades can expose the grass to diseases.
Just like every other plant out there, natural field grass also needs water to stay alive. Irrigation is a way of supplementing the need for constant rainfall which isn’t always obtainable.
This artificial process ensures a sufficient supply of moisture for the healthy growth of field grass. It also promotes the germination of new grass seeds which allows the field to remain green and lush all year round.
Less irrigation is carried out during rainy seasons to avoid waterlogging the field. Natural turfs usually require between 25 to 30 mm of water per week to function optimally.
Various factors like weather conditions, soil percolation, compaction, soil texture, grass species, and grass rootzone can all be determinants of the amount of irrigation that a particular soccer field might need.
Some turf grass species like the tall fescue and fine fescues species can withstand drought conditions better than most other species of turf grass. Grasses like that don’t need a lot of irrigation because they can do well with a little amount of water.
Early mornings between 4:00 am to 9:00 am are the best time to irrigate turf grasses because there is less loss of water to evaporation. Deep, infrequent irrigation helps turf grasses in developing strong root systems which can extract moisture from a wider mass of the soil.
After irrigation, fertilizer application is the next most important action when it comes to taking care of a soccer field with natural grass. The use of fertilizers is to supply supplemental nutrition to maintain the health of the turf.
A soil test is what determines the nature or type of fertilizer that can be used for a particular soccer field. Sandy pitches usually require fertilizer application once every year but it’s once every three years for native soil pitches.
The primary macronutrients that determine the healthy life of turf grasses include Potassium (K), Phosphorus (P), and Nitrogen (N). A deficiency in any of the above-mentioned nutrients will adversely affect the normal function and health of the grass.
The deficiency of other secondary macronutrients like Sulfur (S), Magnesium (Mg), and Calcium (Ca) can also cause problems for the proper development and growth of turf grasses. You can apply the complete fertilizer (13-13-13) in May to buff up the nutrient level of the soil as summer approaches.
During the summer period, urea (45-0-0) can be used for maintenance. Potassium can also be added to the soil by October to help the turfgrass withstand the winter. During the winter period, ammonium nitrate (34-0-0) can be applied to the field to maintain the growth of rye grass.
This term can be defined as the mechanical methods of selective tillage used in modifying the physical characteristics of the grass on a soccer field. It is a very important practice used in taking care of a soccer field.
Some of the numerous benefits of aeration include a reduction in thatch accumulation, lessening or correction of soil compaction, and improvement of water, nutrient, and air movement around the root zone.
Without regular mechanical aeration of a soccer field, the soil will become compacted, poor, and unhealthy for the proper growth of turf grass. There are many methods of aeration which you can employ such as solid tine aeration, hollow tine aeration, spiking, etc.
Hollow tine aeration is the most used when it comes to taking care of a soccer field because of its effectiveness. To get the best results, aeration should be carried out only when the turfgrass is still actively growing.
Grasses that do well in cool seasons shouldn’t be aerated when the weather is dry or hot because it can cause extreme stress to the grass which can distort its recovery and growth. This concept also applies to warm-season grasses being aerated during cool seasons—it can cause injury to the grass.
We recommend aerating a soccer field once every month when the grass is still actively growing. Soccer field managers must aim to properly aerate the field at least one time in the spring and two times in the fall before the beginning of the soccer season to keep the pitch in top playing condition.
You can either seed, sprig, or sod a soccer field to replace, repair or refill dead portions of grass on the field. You can also do this to transition from one species of grass to another species.
Seeding is a very important practice that many field managers tend to overlook. By engaging in such a practice, your soccer field will look fresh, full, and green all year round. You can use 15 pounds of seed for 1000 square feet of a field area.
Seeding is very important, especially in situations where fields are used all year round. Spraying soil over the seeded field will help you get better seed germination because the soil will encourage more seed-to-soil contact.
Pest and weed management
When the turf grass is densely packed and healthy, harm-causing agents like insects, weeds, and disease will find it difficult to affect them. Other care practices like mowing, irrigation, fertilization, soil aeration, and seeding can also minimize or even eliminate pest problems.
Taking proper care of the soccer field will grossly reduce your reliance on pesticides and other chemicals that aren’t healthy for the environment. Detecting and terminating pest problems at their early stages is very important and can only be achieved through routine field checks.
Post-emergence herbicides containing MSMA and 2,4-D for spot-treatment can properly handle your weed problems starting from June. However, herbicides mustn’t be used in windy conditions or when the temperature of the environment is warm.
Maintaining artificial grass fields
Many soccer fields all over the world are covered with artificial grass because of its ability to remain lush and presentable all year round despite needing a little level of care and maintenance. Caring for artificial grass the right way will help it to reach the manufacturer’s stipulated lifespan.
The threats that often affect natural grass like weeds, pests, and diseases don’t apply to artificial grass. When it comes to the case of artificial grass, two major issues are recurrent which include stain, wear, and tear.
Let’s take a look at some of the few ways artificial grass fields can be properly taken care of.
Removing mild stains
Mild stains aren’t hard to detect on artificial turf soccer fields if you take a close look and cleaning them up shouldn’t be much of trouble either. A mild stain that can leave behind a long-lasting mark on the grass must be treated with urgency.
Clean the spill or stain with a wet towel or dry absorbent material. You can also clean the area with a water hose and make sure you don’t use chemicals that can harm the synthetic grass.
For a thorough rinse, using a 3% ammonia solution in water is preferable to household detergents. This kind of cleaning should be carried out on the field after matches and training.
Removing stubborn stains
Since soccer fields are often open to the public, it wouldn’t be strange to find stubborn stains like oil, grease, ink, etc. on the soccer field. Stains like these can be difficult to clean or manage especially when they aren’t noticed on time.
If these stains don’t respond to mild household cleaning agents or ammonia solution, try using mineral spirit to dissolve the stain and draw it out. You can now clean using a wet towel or a water hose but make sure to dry the soccer field after using a water hose to avoid waterlogging the field.
Chewing gum and other gummy stains are also tough to clean if you don’t know how to go about it. Aerosol refrigerants and dry ice can be used to freeze gummy stains to enable them to come off more easily.
Removing animal waste
It is a very common occurrence in soccer to find pets running from the stands into fields during matches and sometimes they leave stains or wastes behind before being taken off by security. Open fields are also highly prone to bird droppings.
Pet wastes are not difficult to clean. Always allow their solid waste to dry before trying to remove them.
When it comes to liquid waste like urine, spray the artificial turf with cool water and allow it to drain properly. If the stench of urine persists after spraying, add a bit of ammonia solution to the water and spray again.
Using a leaf blower or a lawn vacuum
Most times, especially during windy periods, the soccer field can be filled with a lot of rubbish blown around by the wind—particularly on uncovered fields. Washing or scrubbing isn’t the smartest or fastest way to clean such types of dirt.
A leaf blower or a lawn vacuum can be used to handle such a problem adequately and very fast as well. You can use a hose to wash off the sand and dust residue after blowing or vacuuming so that the artificial turf can remain sparkling clean.
Brushing the artificial turf should be a routine that must be carried out at least once a month to make sure that the turf remains in a top-notch condition. When you brush the artificial turf, it makes it bouncy and stands upright.
Soft-bristled brushes are preferable in maintaining artificial turfs because they hardly damage the surface of the synthetic grass. During very dry and dusty summer months, synthetic turfs might require more brushing than usual.
Use and storage of artificial turf
Artificial turfs are delicate pieces of equipment that must be handled with proper care. While using them on the soccer pitch, we must consider many factors that might be dangerous to the vigor of the turf.
Soccer players must be stopped from wearing soccer cleats that might damage the artificial turf. Also, it may be a good idea to inform players prior to the commencement of the game that they are playing on artificial turf so that they can adjust their playing style to avoid hurting the grass.
Areas on the turf with very high traffic can be regularly cut out and replaced to avoid giving the entire field an old look. During very harsh weather conditions that might damage the integrity of the turf, it can be properly folded and stored in a dry place after each game.
Soccer field grasses endure a high level of strain and beating from soccer players which is why they require adequate care to sustain their delicate life.
In addition to that, natural and artificial turfs are affected (although differently) by other environmental factors.
Although most of these setbacks have been surmounted by the use of artificial turfs, it doesn’t eliminate the need for adequate care and maintenance of the soccer pitch.
A good pitch will not only improve the playing experience of the soccer players but also make the field more attractive for the viewers—especially those watching from their televisions.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!