If you’re a male of the family –- like a husband or the oldest son –- your major family chore on a Saturday in the spring is mowing the lawn. If you finish the task, then you probably sit down in front of the television in the family room and watch Major League Baseball games.
You’re probably thinking more about the game, but have you ever taken time to wonder how the groundskeepers at MLB parks keep the field looking so good? Ever wonder if you can do things that they do to make your lawn look Major League Baseball worthy?
You may not think about the field of a Major League Baseball park as a lawn, but that’s exactly what it is. The biggest difference between the field and your lawn is that the field is much, much bigger.
However, that shouldn’t keep you from using some of the tricks the groundskeepers use to achieve the goal of a lush, green lawn.
Perhaps the one major advantage that the groundskeeper has over you when it comes to lawn care is the budget to get the things that help make turf look great. And one of the major things that is included in the field of a Major League Baseball park is an elaborate drainage system. If well designed and properly installed such a system keeps water from pooling, stores the water and then recirculates it. These systems benefit the field because they help keep the nutrients in the soil rather then have them run off with the water.
Of course, you don’t have the money to spend on an elaborate drainage system for your lawn. However, you can limit the watering of your lawn so that there is no runoff. Many Major League Baseball field groundskeepers advise that if you see runoff, then stop watering. Then don’t start watering again until you are sure that the previous watering mission has been absorbed into the ground. The key to watering, say these groundkeepers, is that the water reaches the roots of the grass. One way to assure that is happening is to take a shovel or a trowel, get down on hands and knees and check it out.
A trick groundskeepers use to determine that the field needs watering is also something you can use to decide if your lawn needs a drink. They say that during hot days in the summer you leave footprints when you walk across a lawn. If the footprints appear in the afternoon, then you’re okay. However, if the footprints appear in the morning, then your lawn needs water. Groundskeepers suggest that the best time to water is in the morning.
Fertilizing is probably the next most important thing to watering when it comes to lawn care. So, you might be wondering how much do I fertilize and when do I do it?
Some groundskeepers are now applying lower amounts of fertilizer and doing it more often. Many groundskeepers are using liquid fertilizer and applying it directly to the leaves of the grass. Groundskeepers are also using products that include non-toxic, biodegradable dyes also known as lawn paint. The dyes do not add to the health of the grass or stops weeds or pests. However, the stuff can make a lawn look marvelous. All of these products are also available to consumers.
Of course, there is the task of mowing. Major League Baseball fields feature patterns mowed on to the field. It may be checkerboard squares or stripe patterns along with the logo of the home team. It may look fancy and difficult to do, but in reality the patterns are achieved through fancy tricks when you mow and the use of rollers to bend the grass so the light reflects off the field differently. Take a look at my blog titled, How to Mow Stripes and Patterns into Your Lawn.
When you mow your lawn groundskeepers advise that you cut only the top third of the blade. However, they also suggest that in the spring and fall when your lawn is entering or exiting its growing season and after the last freeze has passed, cut the lawn low. This action opens up the top of the blades to the sun and helps to generate regrowth. They also recommend that you bag and compost the early clippings, then mow as often as necessary so that the height of the grass remains uniform and clippings don’t have to be collected. You may not know it, but baseball fields are mowed as often as three or four times a week.
There is nothing like the feeling you get when you walk through that tunnel and emerge looking at a well-groomed baseball field. If you use some of these groundskeepers’ tips, then your neighbors and neighborhood visitors will also experience that same feeling when they see your lawn.