September 19,
  With the Maryland SoccerPlex 
A weekly newsletter to keep you informed about EVERYTHING Turf at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
This week we will look into 3 very important remedies for field repair: seeding, sprigging, and sodding.
The remedy we've been looking for!
Often times we will have an issue about midseason with turfgrass either thinning, going bare in spots or never coming back from being dormant. There are a few different solutions we have to solve this issue. Each option has different pros and different cons and there is no universal solution for every single situation.

Seeding, also known as overseeding, is a periodic but routine application of seed to an existing turfgrass to help improve turf density. When choosing the seed for your home lawn, be sure to choose a seed variety that will succeed with your specific growing conditions (shady/sunny/wet/etc.). At the SoccerPlex, in order to keep a consistent playing surface, if/when we overseed we always use the same type of turfgrass. For example, we are currently about to start our fall overseeding here at the Plex. Over the next two weeks we will plant over 6,000lb of seed into our 12 cool-season fields!  As we have discussed in previous turf-talks, our cool-season fields are mostly a mix of Kentucky Bluegrass (KBG) and Perennial ryegrass (PR), and all of our overseeding that we will do will involve only those two varieties. Some fields (our recently renovated fields that we added drainage to) will receive almost exclusively KBG, while our older surfaces that have yet to be renovated will receive more PR.
Once correct seed is chosen it can then be applied to the area needed. To prepare your surface, there a couple steps you can take to help promote consistent and even growth.  If seeding a bare area, it is important to rake up and loosen some of the soil at the surface, so that when you apply your seed, it ends up getting mixed in with some of the soil in the top ΒΌ" or so, trying to create as much "seed-to-soil" contact as you possibly can.  The soil around the seed helps to hold water and increase germination rates of your grass seed, in addition, the soil contains essential nutrients that a seedling needs to survive and continue to grow.  If you are truly overseeding (applying additional seed to an existing stand of grass), it can be helpful to aerify your lawn prior to seeding, to allow a place for the seed to drop into and be protected during the germination process. You can apply seed many different ways, from "chicken-feeding" by hand, to using a drop spreader or rotary spreader (recommended). 

Here at the Plex, we use large equipment to assist in our seeding practices, both drop style and also disc-style, with the goal of actually planting the seed in the ground rather than just have it sitting on top of the soil surface. Once seed is applied proper irrigation practices should be followed if possible.  General rule of thumb is that you want to water morning and evening until you see that you have seed germinating, then back off the evening water, only irrigating in the morning until the seed is established.  Also use mother nature to your advantage whenever possible!  If we have multiple days of rain (not storms with heavy rainfall) forecasted, applying your seed just prior to that can give you free, consistent irrigation without having to use any of your own water.
What is sprigging?
Sprigging is another way to increase your plant population, almost exclusively when using Bermudagrass. A sprig or plug is a removed stem from mature turfgrass (think of it as what you would see if you lightly roto-tilled the top of a Bermudagrass surface) and replanting the cuttings into a different location. You might remember a few months ago we actually did some sprigging here at the Plex! The difference between sprigging and seeding is that the sprig is a completely germinated, mature plant that is being placed into the ground while the seed is obviously not even germinated yet. The preparation for sprigging is relatively similar to the preparation for seeding, with irrigation being the most important factor.  After the sprigging process is complete, it is essential to be able to keep the sprigs moist until they establish their own new root system and can get their own water from the soil.
Sodding - the quick solution!
S odding is the most expensive solution out of our 3 options, but has the benefit of having the fastest time to be playable. Sod is a matured adult turfgrass and a small portion of soil beneath it. There is thick-cut sod which can have 1-2 inches of soil, making it much heavier, but it does allow it to be ready for play immediately. There is also thin-cut sod, which will have a bout 1/4-1/2 inches of soil beneath it. The less amount of soil makes it easier to transport and it allows the roots to grow into wherever it is placed much quicker than thick-cut sod. The thin-cut sod does need some time to connect with the existing ground before it can be played on. Here at the Plex, sod is an absolute last-resort solution, because it comes with it's own challenges, especially the fact that when purchasing sod from a farm, it is almost impossible to match the soil type you have in your existing surface, and that creates a layering problem.  This makes it difficult for the sod to root well, can build up large amounts of organic matter, and can create drainage issues as well. When placing sod, you want to be sure to remove all dead plant tissue and moisten the soil the sod will be placed on. 
Once the sod is evenly placed across the area it is important to water to promote proper rooting. Another important thing to do during this time is let the field rest! This allows the roots to take to the existing soil!   When we do have to sod here at the Plex, we are very aggressive with aerification once the sod has started to root down.  Creating channels through the sod layer helps alleviate some of the layering issues discussed earlier.

Seeding, sprigging, and sodding all have situations where they can be used and are the perfect solution to a problem. Here at the SoccerPlex we implement all practices in our field maintenance.
Next Week
Check in next week as week look into the practice of topdressing!
Ask Us Your Questions
Do you have a burning turfgrass related question? Ask us! We will be happy to answer it in future iterations of Turf Talk - just email us at, subject line Turf Talk Question.
Many Thanks to Fine Earth Landscape, Inc. for 
Their Continued Support of the Maryland SoccerPlex.

Learn more about Fine Earth here.