Outdoor Services Crew

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Top dressing Kittridge Synthetic fields

As most of you know, the university has three synthetic sports fields along the east edge of campus.  These fields were put in about five years ago and have been a tremendous benefit to the CU Rec Center and the sport teams that use them.  Even though it is a synthetic field, it still needs maintenance due to wear and tear.  There is normal light maintenance done every year which consists of dragging the fields to help prevent matting and maintain an even playing field.  But depending on play, there are more significant maintenance tasks that must be completed like replacement of goal mouth areas and a top dressing of new rubber infill.  This year was the summer for that work and the Rec Center funded the replacement of synthetic turf in the goal mouths of the competition field and a top dress of rubber.

As you see in this short video above, we are using our large top dresser and applying crumb rubber just like a normal top dress of sand on a regular field.  The rubber is made of 100% recycled tires which is ground into a very fine granule, a little smaller than a grain of rice.  The amount put down was roughly 1/8" thick and was dragged to help work it into the synthetic turf blades.

During this project we used 12 tons of crumb rubber which was delivered in these large bag's called "totes."  This is a great way to use large amount of product because you cut down on packaging and the loading of it takes only seconds.  The video shows the loading of one of the bags into our top dresser.  This project went very smooth and the field needed it badly.  So now with the work we’ve done, we should be back to normal maintenance for years to come.
With constant talk of which field is better, synthetic or real, there are many points for each.  But the biggest benefit to synthetic is and always will be, the low level of maintenance compared to a real turf field.  It sure is nice to have 3 fields that barely need any attention and stay very safe and playable under all conditions.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Parking on Lawns

For most large organizations parking can sometimes be limited because land is hard to come by in a large city environment.  Even though the university has some very large events, the frequency of such does not warrant the amount of dedicated parking spots to handle the large events.  So to deal with these few events which require large amounts of parking, the decision is made to use some of the open lawn area.  One of those very large events is student move-in.  This year there were roughly five-thousand freshmen moving into campus and, unlike regular events where alternative transportation is recommended, it is a little difficult to use that method to move someone’s home.

When we determine parking is going to be allowed on the landscape there are actions that will be taken to help protect the campus property.  One method is to actually place turf mats on top of the irrigation valve boxes so that the weight of the vehicles does not break the irrigation mainline.  Other steps that I use entail roping off areas to prevent vehicles from parking under the drip lines of our trees and shutting down irrigation applications.  This is done to firm up the landscape to protect the grades and prevent "rutting" from heavy vehicles.

Parking on landscape is pretty difficult no matter what steps you take but what you see above is a result of the use of the protection matts. Unfortunately the mats are black and with the high temperatures we had paired with relatively little cloud cover, the mats became extremely hot.  There is a pretty good chance this turf will actually come back since we only had these locations covered for about eight hours and then water was applied.

What you are actually seeing is a result of temperatures under these mats getting so high that the leaf cells actually burst.  A leaf blade is made of many individual cells, each having their own cell walls. These cells basically burst from the extreme heat, with the ruptured cell walls releasing all the chlorophyll and moisture in the leaf, creating this very burned out look to the plant.  In time with proper irrigation the plant will start to push new leaf growth and eventually what you see will be mowed off and fade away.  We were pretty lucky that the mats were not down for too much longer or the crown of the plant could have been damaged, resulting in turf loss.