"The center was pretty beat up after 29 practices, seven walkthroughs and one practice game in 29 days."

Getting USC ready for some football

When it comes to re-sodding our practice field for the football team, there is a lot of planning that goes into the project before the first piece of sod goes in. We must first select the variety of grass that will go in as well as our best window to install it. We were going with the 419 but when it was time to install the sod, we ended up going with the Tifsport variety which the sod farm said was in better shape due to the weather we were having. The football team’s first game happened to be in Hawaii that year, giving us an extra day of grow in period before the team would get on it again after their first game.

The center was pretty beat up after 29 practices, seven walkthroughs and one practice game in 29 days. We needed roughly around 30,000 square feet to cover between the hash marks and another 5,000 square feet to re-sod miscellaneous worn spots from practice drills.

With the re-sodding project itself starting on the first of September, we started preparing the field for the compaction that comes along with machinery used to remove the existing turf to be removed, as well as the machinery used to install the new sod. We sliced the field in two directions on August 27 because it is a less evasive form of aerating as the football team was still using the field. The team’s final walkthrough before traveling was on the 31st, as soon as their walkthrough was over, we got on the field and hollow tine aerated with quarter inch tines all of the turf that was not going to be removed.

The next day, the first of September, the contractors arrived to remove the turf to be re-sodded. We layed down the plywood where the machinery would be traveling across the turf that would not be replaced. After that, we pretty much stayed out of the way and let the contractors do their work, though we try to have one person who stays with them to help in any way and to also keep an eye on things! The sod was removed in one day and would be ready for the 1-inch thick cut sod the next.

By 6 am the next day, we were out there hollow tine aerating the bare soil where the sod had been removed. That completed aerating the entire field before we went out and broadcasted out Calcium Silica fertilizer over the entire field, the existing turf as well as the soil to be re-sodded. Once the fertilizer was out, the sod started going in with the contractors laying the sod as we helped remove the turf trimmings that go along with laying in the sod to make it fit snug. The rest of us loaded up our vehicles with sand and shovels and began filling in the seams.

Once we started advancing with filling in the seams, two of our guys broke off and started to sweep the sand into the seams. We had 60 yards of sand to fill our seams and topdress with. Once the seams were filled and broomed in, we topdressed the entire field with the remaining sand until it was all gone. We had one person dragging in the sand behind our spreader and another person rolling the sod behind the person dragging. We started to water in the sod behind the person rolling the field until the entire field was completed.

The next day, September 3, we came in and painted the football field to be ready for the practice on Monday. When the paint dried, with the nice weather we had and the quick dry paint we use, it only took about 20 minutes before I was able to get on it and apply Rx Gold liquid fertilizer over it to help with the root growth. The field was rolled the next 2 days over the weekend to tighten up the sod. I came back in on Monday morning and applied Rx Supreme liquid fertilizer over it. The team would be on the field roughly 7 hours after I sprayed it, the reason I was able to fertilize it on a practice day was that this fertilizer does not require to be watered in, otherwise we wait till after practice or a day off to fertilize.

The team practiced that Monday and was happy with the job we did. We postponed our monthly fertilization that we normally apply around the first of every month, so I came in that Friday and applied it, completing our plan of the sod project. The sod is still on the field, a little beat up, but thanks to a good installation and fertilization program, it made it to the end of the season.

Cesar Carbajal is team leader for the University of Southern California. This article originally appeared in the December 2010 newsletter of the Greater Los Angeles Basin Chapter of STMA.