Maintenance Guidelines for a Bermudagrass Athletic Field

Brad Fresenburg
Research Associate
University of Missouri Turfgrass Research Center
(573) 442-4893 or FresenburgB@missouri.edu

These are very general guidelines and may need to be modified for your particular situation.

March

  • Pull soil samples for regular soil test analysis to determine needs for maintaining pH and nutrient levels.
  • Apply 2 pound of nitrogen/1,000 sqft in two directions of a 24-4-12 fertilizer or similar composition. This is primarily for the perennial ryegrass cover. If ryegrass was not over-seeded in the fall, then this application is not needed.
  • Use perennial ryegrass only as an over-seeding material during the season. Try to minimize any additional over-seeding of perennial ryegrass in the spring. Regular mowing will be necessary to maintain the ryegrass at an acceptable height for play. Mowing height can be maintained at 1¼ inches and mowed two to three times weekly.
  • Some edging may be needed around the infield, skinned area to tidy up from winter.

April

  • Pre-emergence weed control for annual grasses should be applied the first two weeks of April (prior to April 15th). This application is made only if no additional over-seeding of perennial ryegrass or over-seeding of bermuda is required. On established turfgrasses that require no over-seeding then a number of pre-emergence herbicides can be used - Ronstar, Barricade, Dimension, Pre-M, etc. If a pre-emergence herbicide is not used, then post-emergence herbicides can be used as needed.
  • Depending on the amount of use or wear on the field, additional fertilizer can be applied. Apply 0.25 to 0.50 lbs of nitrogen/1,000 sqft in two directions of a 24-4-12 fertilizer. Depending on how the spring season is warming up, a 0.50 lb rate of urea nitrogen/1,000 sqft can be applied if bermuda is starting to show some green growth.
  • Some edging may be needed around the infield, skinned areas.
  • Solid-tine aerification can be completed if bermuda begins to green- up. A light application of topdressing sand can be applied as needed. Do not apply more than ¼ inch in a single application.
  • Regular mowing will be necessary to maintain the ryegrass at an acceptable height for play.
  • Follow good irrigation practices as necessary. Pre-emergence herbicide and fertilizers should be watered in according to their labels.

May

  • Apply urea fertilizer (46-0-0) at a rate of 0.75 lbs of nitrogen every 10 to 14 days throughout the remainder of the summer.
  • Check micro-nutrient levels in the soil and make adjustments accordingly. Scott's S.T.E.P. product is excellent for this.
  • Broadleaf weed control including summer annuals and newly emerged perennials such as dandelion can be applied mid May. A number of products are on the market - Trimec Classic, Millenium Ultra, CoolPower, HorsePower, Three-Way, etc. Control of perennial broadleaf weeds is best with herbicide applications in late September.
  • Deep-tine aerification with solid tines can be completed again. If the opportunity allows the pulling of 3 to 4" long plugs after the S.M.S. season, but prior to the AA season; then this aerification can also be completed at this time. Topdress as needed.
  • Yellow nutsedge may appear with spring showers. Control is best when small and can be achieved with Manage or MSMA. Control of yellow nutsedge during the summer is best with Manage, since MSMA has temperature restrictions.
  • There is a potential for white grub damage as they emerge to pupate into adults and lay eggs again. Sevin is a good, safe product to use. As the May/June beetles emerge to lay eggs, it is a good time to apply preventative insecticides such as Merit and Mach 2. These are products with long residuals for full season control.
  • Regular mowing will be necessary to maintain an acceptable height for play. If height is not to an acceptable level to promote Bermuda grass growth (0.5 - .75"), the height should be lowered to help promote the greening up and growth of the Bermuda grass.
  • Begin edging as necessary, but likely twice a month.
  • Follow good irrigation practices as necessary. Water in fertilizers and follow label recommendations for watering in insecticides.

June

  • Deep-tine aerification with solid tines and topdressing as needed.
  • Follow good irrigation practices. Apply 1.0 to 1.5" of water per week during the heat of the summer.
  • Maintain fertilizer applications.
  • Maintain edging. Edging will be needed on a weekly basis to maintain proper edges and lines for acceptable play.
  • Mowing should take place 2-3 times weekly or daily during home stands at a height ranging from 0.5 to 0.75".
  • If ryegrass has not yet been Atransitioned out,@ chemical products such as Corsair or Manor can be applied to eliminate the over-seeded Ryegrass.
  • Follow good irrigation practices.
  • Applications of bio-stimulants such as Focus or Flex can begin early in the month and follow the label recommendations from the manufacturer.

July

  • Aerification, topdressing and fertilization can be coordinated at any open date in the schedule. Be careful with fertilizer applications during hot days.
  • White grub damage may appear in late July. Use Sevin insecticide if Merit or Mach 2 was not used in the spring.
  • Follow good irrigation practices.
  • Continued mowing and edging on a regular basis.

August

  • Aerification, topdressing and fertilization can be coordinated with any open date in the schedule. Be careful with fertilizer applications during hot days. Aerification and topdressing should take place early in the month so that Bermuda grass has a chance to recover from damage before cooler nighttime temperatures begin to occur in September.
  • Keep an eye out for any white grub damage.
  • Follow good irrigation practices.
  • Regular mowing and edging should be continued.

September

  • Over seeding with perennial ryegrass is usually best the first week of September. Broadcast seed in two directions followed by irrigation to keep the seed moist (up to 0.10" four time daily) will produce good success. An application of a good starter fertilizer (10-24-18) can be applied at 1.0 lbs of nitrogen/1,000 sqft.
  • Other applications of urea nitrogen can stop by mid-month.
  • An application of 1 pound of K / 1000 sq. ft. should be applied by mid month with a 0-0-60 fertilizer to aid in hardening of the Bermuda grass for increased winter survival. Fertilizer should contain no nitrogen.
  • Perennial broadleaf weed control is best towards the end of this month. Avoid any hot days above 85 degrees F. Trimec type products and those listed in May work well. Ryegrass seedlings should be at least 1.5" in height or have been mowed 3-4 times before herbicides are applied.
  • Mowing and edging will need to be continued.
  • An application of fungicide to control Spring Dead Spot (SDS) should be made late in the month to decrease the chance of injury to turfgrass in the early spring when green up begins. Products recommended include Rubigan, Banner MAXX, Bayleton, Eagle and Heritage.

October

  • Over-seed thin areas with perennial ryegrass, thin areas only. Most seeding should be completed by October 15th.
  • Mowing and edging will slow but still may be necessary. Mowing height can be increased to 1 ¼".

November

  • Finalize any field maintenance, make repairs, winterize equipment.
  • Inventory equipment and budget for equipment replacement and needs.

December

  • Join and attend the Missouri Valley Turfgrass Association (MVTA) Lawn Conference and Trade Show at Columbia, MO.
  • Make sure your pesticide applicator's license is current.

January

  • Join and attend the Sport Turf Managers Association (STMA) Conference. Location changes annually. Join any local STMA Chapters - MOKAN in Kansas City.
  • Pesticide Applicator Training and Re-Certification.

February

  • Equipment repairs.
  • Determine product inventory and needs for the next season.