Soccer Field maintenance is easy in a big club with a number of people in the field maintenance department and external consultants and advisory firms available. But what to do when you are running a small club where the director, manager, coach, and field keeper is the one person or you are running a soccer team in your school? Then you need to know everything and be almost an expert for all. As a few of us already were (or still are) in that position we put on a paper a few good tips about natural grass soccer field maintenance and care. And also few tips on what to consider when looking for the best riding lawn mower for the soccer field.
What type of Grass is the best for Soccer Field?
This is a really good question, but the answer is not that simple. The grass on the soccer field needs to be more resistant and strong as it will get a full load during the season. It will face all possible threats from players soccer cleats to diseases and obstructions from insect and birds.
The type of grass will depend also on the location of your soccer field. Kentucky bluegrass is most often recommended for northern parts of the USA and Bermuda grass for the southern parts of the USA.
The maximum length of the soccer field is 110 meters, the maximum width is 75 meters. So you need grass seed for the area of 8250 square meters (88 800 square feet) minimum plus additional seed for the area around the lines.
Fertilization is very important for strained grass fields. It improves the quality of the natural grass soccer field and helps in grass recovery. It is recommended to fertilize in spring ideally before the season starts. And then again in late autumn before the winter starts. It is always better to make this kind of interventions in the off-season. However, sometimes it is not possible as weather and season schedule do not cooperate.
It is good to do a soil test before the fertilization to know what your soil exactly needs. But I fully understand that it is almost impossible to do in modest conditions. In that case, you apply just standard fertilizers.
Aeration of the field is important to preserve the health of the grass. Spiker with 6″ blades will do the job and you should run the turf twice (once in width and once in length). It is good to topdress the aerated area with sand. Sand will keep the surface even and also help the grass to grow and recover.
The soccer field is not strained evenly. Some spots, e.g. penalty area, are more loaded than others. You need to fill thin spots during the season to keep the field in good shape in all area. You can overseed the field regularly during the season before the away matches to give seeds time to drop the roots.
The best solution is to have an automated watering system in place. That is a win-win situation for the field manager and also for the grass itself. Watering should be done every three days, with exceptions depending on the actual weather. If you are not sure if your grass needs watering, the easy “screwdriver” test will always help. You just push a screwdriver into the turf till you feel some resistance. The field needs to be watered if you are not able to push screwdriver 4″ to 6″ into the turf.
In the case of manual watering, you should do it evenly for all area. Be aware that spots with fresh seeds should be watered just slightly to avoid washing seeds away.
You should do an inspection of the turf regularly to check the moisture, grass quality and health. Healthy grass field has much less weed on it. Good care and healthy grass will prevent excessive weed on the turf. Otherwise, the use of herbicides can be necessary during the off-season.
Mowing and watering are two actions you need to do regularly. The soccer field grass height should be between 1″ to 2.5″. The actual height depends on the wish of your coach or players. You should be aware that the height of the grass can impact the play of your team and opponent and eventually can impact also the result of the match.
Longer grass will slow down the ball movement and also fast teams. It can neutralize their advantage a bit. If your players have a problem with the first touch with the ball than short grass will not help them much. Anyway, the height of the grass is always your choice and you can play with it during a season. Essentially, there is not an optimal or ideal height of the grass. There is a range and you choose the exact height.
It is good to know, that you should always cut just the 1/3 of the actual height. It gives the grass the needed strength and does not weaken it too much. The blades of your lawn mower should be always sharp. You need to cut the grass, not to tear it away. Torn grass is more vulnerable to unwanted diseases.
How to choose the Best Riding Lawn Mower for Soccer Field
There are a few parameters you need to consider before buying Lawn Mower for your natural grass soccer field.
Riding or Walk-Behind Lawn Mower
This is an easy decision with soccer field dimensions. Riding Lawn Mower or Tractor is a must. You will not be able to cut the grass twice a week with a walk-behind lawn mower. Save your legs, pick the tractor.
Cutting Range is the most important parameter when considering riding lawn mowers. Greater cutting width will save you time, fuel and makes your mowing easier. There are a lot of lawn mowers with 42″ to 48″ cutting range, but you can find also riding lawn mowers with 52″ or even 54″ cutting range at reasonable prices.
We already discussed the optimal height of the natural grass at the soccer field. Therefore, you need to have lawn mower which has options to set the desired cutting height. Usually, the best riding lawn-mowers have up to 6 different cutting height positions in a range of 1.5″ to 4″.
Speed is not as important as in cars. Essentially, the difference in speed can be neglected as it is not significant between different riding lawn-mowers.
Turn Radius or Maneuverability
Turn radius is important with garden lawn-mowers. Mowing the soccer field is pretty easy as you mow the free rectangular shape. So you do not need to consider maneuverability. You will have enough space for turns on the soccer field.
Riding lawn mowers usually have three options. The cut grass can be mulched, side-discharged or bagged. It depends on the season if you prefer mulching or bagging. In the case of bagging, the bigger grass bag will help you more.
Riding Lawn-Mower for Soccer Fields
Ariens IKON-X 42" Zero Turn Mower
Troy-Bilt 540cc Briggs & Stratton Intek Automatic
Ariens IKON-X 52" Zero Turn Mower