turfplaning® is Done, Now What?
If you have had a chance to watch a turfplaner® on your own athletic field, how did you feel as you watched grass disappear from your field? The finished product is awesome when it comes to the smoothness and stability of the grade, but what about the brown? The finished product can knock the wind out of your sales when it comes to what is left.
Majority of turfplaning® is done during the growing season, and the normal turfgrass that is turfplaned is Bermudagrass. It should be obvious that using a fraise mower in the summer on Bermuda is the main application. Using the machine on Cool-Season grasses or before overseeding Bermuda entails a totally different approach for recovery. However, a fraise mower, including the turfplaner®, is non-selective. It is designed to remove what is in its way as it travels.
First, let's discuss the normal application of turfplaning® Bermuda in the summer. As you walk on a newly fraise mowed area, you should see plenty of root zone remnants still in tact. Rhizomes, stolons, and roots should be everywhere, unless you needed an aggressive application, but even then, your probably in decent shape for grow-in. More often than not, grass is left in patches due to the humps and low spots that have developed on the field. Extreme lip build-up will, also, deplete your Bermuda in spots that will need extra care.
Normal fraise mowing applications require a grow-in period of 30 days. Before the application, irrigation and fertilization would have been programmed, but now escalating that program is needed. Golf Superintendents have this part down to an organized science, but Recreation and High School staff may have to be a little more organized to ensure things get done to the area.
The grass needs a little more water through the week.
A complete fast-release fertilizer (applied each week in smaller amounts for 4 weeks) or a slow release fertilizer timed for application right after turfplaning®.
Aerating or aeravating and topdressing right after will help promote plant recovery and give water and fertilizer a place to go.
However, you will be able mow sooner than a seeded area, and using the area without fear of damage will happen fairly quick.
Whatever you decide to do, the final product left behind after turfplaning® is your start line. Unless you contract someone else to take responsibility, the final grow-in is up to you. This can be the scary part of what a fraise mower leaves behind, but you will be amazed over the next 3 weeks how easy the Bermuda will respond.
Cool-Season Turf and Overseeding Bermudagrass
On the other hand, Cool-Season Turf and timing turfplaning® with overseeding Bermuda are handled differently than Bermuda Turf during growing season. In this application, the important part of the process is promoting the growth of a plant that has to establish from seed. The bed can be prepared for sod with an extra cut from the turfplaner® to accept sod in the cut areas, but, in my opinion, this defeats the purpose of smoothing the grade with the turfplaner®.
Once the fraise mowing is done, you have nothing to grow back (or not enough grow-in time for Bermuda to recover). What is left will require more care than Bermuda grow-in.
There is no seed bed. That still needs prep for seed to be successful.
Aerating before or aeravating after seeding for soil contact.
Starter fertilizer applied with new seed.
Irrigation timing for seed germination.
No mowing of seeded area until plants are ready (21-28 days)
turfplaning® is the best way to fix a Cool-Season grass field. We have done it, and reseeded with success. The problem will be timing. Getting a full month to grow in grass seed is a tough ask for fields used on a regular basis, but, at the end of the day, this is the best way to improve the grade of your field. The field will be out of commission for less time than if you re-graded the field, and the finished product will not settle. The field will be ready sooner than renovating the field.
The application of fraise mowing an athletic field is the least expensive way to "renovate" a field in need. The final product is a field that has already done most of its settling. The turfplaner® is just planing a final product. Each time a field is turfplaned® it gets better and easier to maintain. Nature is still going to wreak havoc on the field, but the field will respond as a veteran field and not a rookie (fresh graded) field. The recovery time is the only issue that has to be considered. Bermuda fields need less time to "recover". As Bermudagrass recovers, the plant is still an established plant. Recovering a Cool-Season grass application requires the time to establish young plants to fill in the fraise-mowed areas.
Either way, this is the new way to renovate a field that does not have sub-grade issues. Fraise-mowing is the best way to maintain a field long-term. It is less expensive and good for the grass. You will find that a field can be a "game-ready" field every season with little issues by planning to fraise-mow on a regular basis, and each field will have different timing needs for turfplaning®. Some fields will only need minimal turfplaning® every so often, and some fields will need turfplaning® more often and/or more aggressively. However, what is saved in money and time from turfplaning® instead of a full renovation will be less in the long run.