Spring Maintenance of Athletic Fields
WHEN WILL FIELDS REOPEN FOR THE SPRING?
The Parks and Recreation Department is as excited as you are, to open the athletic fields in the spring. We are all eager to get back outdoors and start competing after a long winter. During the Winter to Spring transition and weather begins to change, our Department typically receives numerous inquiries about when fields will be ready for use. We seek your patience and understanding to get you on the fields as quickly as possible without sacrificing the condition of the fields and the safety of our athletes. Playing on a field too early, before the grass or clay is fully dry, could result in the need for additional maintenance delaying access for a portion of the season.
What happens when fields begin to thaw from the winter freeze?
As the temperature increases and fields become clear of snow, the subsurface will begin to thaw from a deep freeze. As the ground warms, the surface will be over-saturated from freezing and thawing from the winter snow. Rain events are common in April and unfortunately, this makes it difficult for the grass to completely dry out, creating an unsafe playing surface. As The subsurface temperatures slowly rise, the grass once again comes to life and begins to grow. For a proper athletic field to be ready to use, the subsurface temperatures must be at 55 degrees for a few weeks to allow growth and rootzones to gain strength and provide a resilient surface suited for athletic activity.
When does spring field maintenance begin?
Once the fields and clay are dry, our Parks Maintenance crews perform seasonal maintenance to help with the growth and sustainability of fields, ensuring a safe playing surface for our 70,000-plus residents. Until these steps occur, fields are not ready and will not be released for permitting. Historically, we permit fields for use from the second to the third week in April. This timeline is all weather and subsurface driven. Additionally, each field is different by location and subsurface. Some fields dry faster than others due to subsurface drainage and soil compaction; while other fields take longer to dry and reestablish following the winter freeze. Throughout all this, our infields and sand/clay surface also require time to properly drain and dry in preparation for the season. This too is subject to weather and subsurface temperatures. The Park maintenance crew may lightly rake the clay infields to assist mother nature in the drying process. The use of the infields when wet is not only unsafe but it will create holes in the clay that will be very difficult to rake out when the clay is dry enough to maintain. Please resist the temptation to try to push water off an infield. It will only push the clay and sand into the grass, making the edges unsafe, and creating a hole for more water to gather the next time it rains.