Sports Field Maintenance: Mowing

There is no single "one size fits all" mowing height for high quality sports turf all year long. Many factors are involved that will shape a mowing plan including the grass type, climate, time of year, even the intended speed and style of play of the team that will play on the field.

First things first...have a plan. In order to achieve the best turfgrass possible for a sports field, it's imperative there is a strict regimen in place and a commitment to follow it by those responsible for the maintenance of the field.

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Mowing Frequency & Height

Recommended mowing frequencies are not dictated by the number of days between mowing, but rather "The One-Third Rule". Put simply, the rule instructs to cut off no more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a single mowing. Doing so damages the overall health of the plant as well as leaving behind too many grass clippings. During the growing season, turfgrass grows much more rapidly and may need to be mowed 2 or 3 times per week for most football, baseball, and soccer fields. For closer-cut fields like golf course fairways and greens, as well as grass tennis courts, daily mowing is common, if not required.

3 Times Per Week at 1 Inch Height

Generally speaking, we try to coach our customers that in order to have the best hybrid bermudagrass sports turf possible (e.g. TifSport, Tifway 419, or even Tex Turf 10), mowing three times a week during the growing season at 1 inch height will offer the best chance to yield an excellent stand of sports turf ready for most types of playing activity. If mowing three times per week is out of the question, then twice per week can work, but cut the turf a bit higher at about 1 1/2 inches. Reducing the frequency down to only once per week will likely require raising the mowing height to about 2 inches and the overall turf quality will be much poorer.

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Research has shown that mowing at the proper heights and frequencies encourages a more dense and thick turfgrass, more capable of withstanding extreme conditions as well as pests. TifSport and Tif 419 can be mowed more frequently down to 5/8 inch or even 1/2 inch to create a truly amazing sports turf. A high quality cut is also important to get the best results so a properly maintained reel type mower will cut the grass the best at these lower heights. Clearly this also assumes the turf is being watered adequately and has the proper nutrition.

During the off-season, it's common - and often practical for many maintenance shops - to keep the grass slightly higher and mowing less frequently than the in-season regimen calls for. As the season approaches (about 4-6 weeks out) mowing heights should start to be reduced to competition heights as the first game nears. Do not cut the grass down to the desired competition height all at once as this will unnecessarily scalp the turf.

Obviously there are many variables that factor into a successful sports field mowing regimen. A good turf manager is aware of these variables and is constantly making the necessary course corrections to keep the field achieving it's potential during the most important times of the year.

Contact TMC

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Would you like help putting together a maintenance plan for your sports fields? How about year-round service and support to help keep your athletic fields in top form? Contact the TMC office at 1-800-292-1214. We are in the business of putting together solutions for sports fields all over Texas!