A Sincere Thank YOU

Statement from Jerad Minnick on President’s Award For Leadership

“Game Changer”. What a tremendous theme for the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) national conference last week. The STMA gathering in San Diego involved non-stop sharing and idea generation between Sports Turf Managers from around the world. Friday night’s Awards Banquet was the culmination. Founder’s Award were presented, Fields of the Year were all honored, and students were praised.  Each and every person or team honored, unique in their own way, overcome challenge to create great things with hard work and professionalism. An absolutely wonderful night all around. Bravo STMA!

Former President Allen Johnson’s presentation of the President’s Award for Leadership turned the banquet personal for me. In introducing the award, Mr. Johnson’s description of leadership was captivating. What a wonderful description. “It (leadership) is an act of someone who is unprovoked by others, but rather is driven from within themselves to set upon a course of action to accomplish something that they believe simply needs to be done. They demonstrate a passion for their vision and take measurable actions in achieving their goal. No matter how difficult the task or the odds stacked against them they forge on, knowing that their pursuit is a worthy endeavor.”

Working daily with Sports Field Managers and seeing first hand the effort they put into their natural grass fields is the best part of my role as an Advisor. Especially when perception and teaching still is that natural grass fields can not sustain an increased amount of use. Yet all around us Sports Field Managers make the impossible possible every single day. They display passion and perseverance. Many times they are required to sacrifice. But they forge on and get the job done because they love what they do.

With the description of “leadership” that President Johnson gave, I could think of so many people that deserve a leadership award. When “Jerad Minnick” came from his mouth, I nearly fell from my chair (that, or my colleague and friend Simon Gumbrill might have pushed me!). I appreciate the award greatly. THANK YOU. But this award really belongs to all of YOU. YOU vendors in our industry that are creating new solutions for old problems. YOU Sports Field Managers who are willing to buy into new ideas and set examples of how natural grass sustain an increased amount of use. Without your professionalism and hard work to produce shining examples of high quality, high use natural grass fields, I would just look like a raving lunatic living in a land of fantasy! THANK YOU to each and every one of YOU for what YOU do in proving that natural grass fields can take more!

And a heart felt THANK YOU to former President Johnson for the recognition. It’s special to receive a leadership award from a President that lead us all by example. Mr. Johnson, your professionalism and hard work makes the impossible possible… growing perfect grass for the Green Bay Packers. Thank you Mr. Johnson. You give us all an example to follow.

It is truly an honor to receive the President’s Award for Leadership. But ultimately, this award isn’t for or about Jerad Minnick… its about every one of YOU that prove wrong the perception natural grass can not take an increased amount of use. But we have no time for celebrate, our work is only STARTED. I hope YOU are excited as I am about the bright future for Sports Field Managers and the potential for natural grass fields. #GrassCanTakeMore!

“Success is no accident.  It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”- Pele 


Transcript from Former President Allen Johnson’s introduction of the President’s Award for Leadership:

There are many different ideas of what constitutes the word Leadership. For the purposes of this award tonight, I’d like to define what leadership means to me. Its the act of someone who is unprovoked by others, but rather is driven from within themselves to set upon a course of action to accomplish something that they believe simples needs to be done. They demonstrate a passion for their vision and take measurable actions in achieving their goal. No matter how difficult the task or the odds staked against them they forge on, knowing that their pursuit is a worthy endeavor.

I do not personally know the individual that I have selected for tonight’s honor, but I know of them. I have shaken their hand only twice and said hello. However, I am aware of this person’s pursuit of their goal. At a time when it is so desperately needed in our industry, this person has been a staunch advocate for natural grass and its’ use as a playing surface for athletes across all sports and age groups. They have not only been a leading voice for the benefits that natural grass provides, but they have also benefited our industry by introducing ideas and concepts which push the professional sports field manager to better themselves, to push the envelope in their management techniques, and become even more valuable to their organizations.

Promoting the benefits of natural grass for athletic surfaces is not only highlighted as one of the main goals in the STMA’s strategic plan, it is sorely needed in our industry because it rarely has a voice to speak on its behalf. For these reasons I can think of no better person or no better time to honor this year’s Presidential Award for Leadership as Jerad Minnick.


“Let There Be Light” Follow Up


There has been great idea exchange and feedback stemming from a recent article in SportsField Management “Let There Be Light”.  Thank you for that!! The article examines the introduction and use of supplemental light units for natural grass fields, back to its introduction from SGL in Holland.

What an enjoyable piece to put together! It stems from an “ah ha” moment during a recent visit to the UK.  A training ground was using the SGL light system for growth and recovery on high-use area on the training fields.  But wait?  Isn’t supplemental lighting just for stadiums with big roofs and shade?


When turfgrass growth slows in the fall/ winter/ spring, we concede the loss of growth to the time of the year.  The growth is slowed, yes by temperature in cold areas, but just as much by sun angle and day length.  8 hours of day length with the sun low on the horizon is not enough for grass to grow.  Thus is goes dormant.

And grasses themselves are grouped and described as “shade tolerant”.  Yet ultimately it really has nothing to do with shade.  “Shade tolerant” grasses simply require less light for maximum growth.  A great example is from the initial success of Latitude 36 bermudagrass in the transition zone.  In its first few year, Latitude has dramatically out performed other cold tolerant bermudagrass varieties in fall color and growth in the transition  zone.  Why does Latitude 36 sustain growth in the fall as temperatures fall and day length gets shorter?  Because it is a cold tolerant variety right?

Not all the case!  Latitude 36 is a very cold tolerant variety of bermudagrass. But via a new study from the USGA on “Development of Shade-Tolerant Bermudagrass Cultivars”, Latitude 36 now looks to be the most shade tolerant of all bermudas.  But again, its not just about shade… its about light requirement.  Latitude 36 stays strong with growth well into the fall because 1) yes, its a cold tolerant variety, BUT also 2) it requires less light to sustain growth.  As day length gets shorter and the sun angle gets lower in the sky through the fall, Latitude 36 is able to keep growing.

I reference the article “Pour Some Light On Me” from Dr. Karl Danneberger.  Dr. Dannenberger put all of these points into perspective magically several years ago.  THANK YOU for that!  Dr. Dannenberger references another study that caught my attention from Dr. B. Todd Bunnell and Dr. Bert McCarty on light requirement for TifEagle putting greens.  (Their study started in 2001, not 2004 as SportField Management referenced.  The GCSAA article was published August, 2004).  The article, “Sunlight requirements for ultradwarf bermudagrass greens” is tremendous.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Ultimately, turfgrass plants need light.  And supplemental light provides the opportunity for growth and recovery year round, where Mother Nature does not provide for year round growth from sunlight.  Hence, a training ground using supplemental light to promote growth and recover on high-traffic fields is not wasteful, but instead GENIUS!

That unique situation and the “ah ha” moment was a first, but there is no doubt that it will NOT be the last! With this type of innovation and technology, GrassCanTakeMore™!!!

See the full article here:  “Let There Be Light”, SportsField Management


Let There Be Light!

SGL MasterClass 2015

70+ Sports Field Managers representing 12 countries around the world gathered in Manchester, UK for SGL Master Class 2015.  Manchester City Football Club hosted to the 2-day education event with attendees from places as distant as Ukraine and Singapore.  Etihad Stadium Head Grounds Manager Lee Jackson and City Football Academy Head Grounds Manager Lee Metcalfe both opened their state-of-the- art facilities at Manchester City FC to the Master Class.  SGL specific sessions included updates on SGL developments and to collect user feedback.  But uniquely, most of the Master Class focus was not just on SGL products and light technology.  The curriculum focused on evolving natural grass sports field management over all and explored new solutions for the always increasing demand of more events in stadiums world wide.  From grass genetics and plant feeding to renovation approaches and techniques world wide.  Special presentations came from Ray Cheng of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and Jerad Minnick of the Natural Grass Advisory Group (USA).  An informational panel discussion with SGL Founder Nico van Vuuren, SGL Territory Manager Simon Gumbrill, Lee Jackson, and Jerad Minnick summarized and closed out the event. Additionally as part of the Master Class at City was an all access tour through Etihad Stadium by Lee Jackson and the newly opened City Football Academy by Lee Metcalfe.  

A visit to City cross town rival Manchester United also took place during the Master Class.    United Head Grounds Manager Tony Sinclair opened his pitch at storied Old Trafford, home of Manchester United since 1910, to Master Class participants.  Like both Mr. Jackson and Mr. Metcalfe at City, Mr. Sinclair generously shared his experiences and knowledge with the group.  

Throughout Master Class 2015, sharing and collaboration amongst presenters and participants was endless, from morning coffee through evening social time.  As sharing and collaboration are the building blocks of growth and innovation, there is no doubt participants of the Master Class walked away with new ideas and excitement.  

Supplemental Light:  Just for shade? 

A theme that developed during Master Class was turfgrass and light requirement. Previously, supplemental lighting for turfgrass growth is commonly considered a tool just for natural grass surfaces with extensive shade inside large stadiums.  Yet in reality, shaded stadiums house only a small fraction  of the turfgrass in need of supplemental light.  A 2004 study release from Clemson University on TifEagle greens highlights the need for supplemental light without even calling for it. An August, 2004 GCSAA article by B. Todd Bunnell, Ph.D., and Bert McCarty, Ph.D. (1) provides an in-depth look at the study.  When tying the research and article content to the need for supplemental light, the article summary with the title says it all.  “Without a full day of sunshine, TifEagle bermudagrass greens do not thrive”.  Their study on TifEagle finds the bermudagrass needs a daily light integral of 32.6 mol m-2 d-1.  Using light data collection,  Atlanta, GA for example sustains 32.6 mol m-2 d-1a of light from April until October.  (See chart from Karl Danneberger, Ph.D, Ohio State).  TifEagle then is under light stress and can not grow efficiently nearly half the year.  Why the lack of light?  The limited light is simply due to shorter days and lower sun angle in the sky during the fall, winter, and spring season.  Dr. Karl Danneberger gives a detailed description of the impact of in-adequate light has on turfgrass growth in his Ohio State article “Pour Some Light On Me”(2) “Turfgrass plants in response to shade or low light levels become more upright in growth habit including a thinner, longer leaves, less tillering, shallower rooting, and less total root mass (3,4,5). Overall, the turf is subject to a decline in both density and quality. If the winter months are more cloudy and rainy than normal, the detrimental changes would be more dramatic.”  In the south, overseeding with ryegrass into bermudagrass helps off set the decline in bermuda quality due to lower light amounts.  But dormancy in the bermudagrass is promoted because of a decreased light.  And ryegrass overseeding blocks light to the bermudagrass, adding to the reduction of light.  Thus an overseeded stand of bermudagrass in Atlanta, GA faces stress due to inadequate light for nearly 6 months of the year.  That same light stress is equal for nearly all bermudagrass across the USA mainland, only increasing the more north the grass is growing.  Light requirement for cool season grasses is lower, but still their light requirements are equally not met in fall, winter and spring in north regions either.  

This type of research and data collection illustrates how grass in shaded stadiums is not the only grass suffering from light stress in need of supplemental light.  In fact, data supports nearly that all grass could benefit from supplemental light for extended periods during the year.  

Birth of SGL

Webster’s dictionary defines innovation as “making changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products”.  Innovation is exactly what Nico van Vuuren, a Dutch rose grower and Founder of Stadium Grow Lighting, provided with the introduction of SGL to the natural grass industry in 2001.  The first supplemental turfgrass grow light trial ever fittingly took place at the Stadium of Light, Home of Sunderland FC in Sunderland, UK.    The complex new introduction of light into stadiums was a simple advancement of the supplemental growth lighting in Mr. van Vuuren’s 22 acres of rose growing green houses.  As a core building block for rose growth, light is essential for healthy turfgrass growth too.  With shading from large stadium structures and the sun angle change by the season, consistency of light for grass in a stadium is erratic at best.  Supplemental light units immediately supplied the consistency of light needed to sustain healthy, consistent grass growth nearly year round.  Innovation! The “change in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products” is one of he most dramatic changes to take place in the history of natural grass field maintenance.  

The Future Of Supplemental Light

Since the introduction of supplemental light at Sunderland in 2001, SGL has grown to supply light to over 160 swards of natural grass around the world.  And still most all intense light research and innovation is coming from SGL’s lab in Holland.  

Originally the interest for supplemental light was with soccer stadiums in Europe.  Those stadiums are challenged with maintain natural grass surfaces through a soccer season that stretches from fall, through the entire winter season, and into the late spring.  Those stadiums face both shade and low sun angle.  Now with the “growing” understanding that nearly all natural grass surfaces need light, supplemental lighting has spread into the USA in the NFL, MLB, MLS and even college sports with the introduction at University of Tennesse’s Neyland Stadium.  With supplemental light for healthy, consistent turfgrass growth, these stadiums can increase their number of events while reducing maintenance and expensive sod repairs.  Especially in the fall, winter, and spring season.  With the growing demand for high quality natural grass fields nearly year round, there is no doubt the number of applications of supplemental light in sports and golf will continue to grow.  Innovation truly is making a “change”.  

  1. http://www2.gcsaa.org/gcm/2004/aug04/pdf/augtechsunlight.pdf

(2) http://buckeyeturf.osu.edu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1126:pour-some-light-on-me&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=170

(3) Bell, G.E. and T.K. Danneberger. 1999. Temporal shade on creeping bentgrass turf. Crop Science 39:1142-1146

(4). Danneberger, T.K. 1994. Light, as a resource. in Turfgrass Ecology and Management. G.I.E., Inc. Publishers. Cleveland, Ohio. p. 25-35.

(5) Wherley, B.G., D.S. Gardner, and J.D. Metzger. 2005. Tall fescue photomorphogenesis as influenced by changes in the spectral composition. Crop Science 45:562-568. 

Announcement: Natural Grass Advisory Group™



ANNOUNCEMENT: Natural Grass Advisory Group™ Launched By Growing Innovations For Independent Education and Support For Natural Grass Maintenance

GINGAG Annoucement PDF

Rockville, MD- The Natural Grass Advisory Group™ has recently been launched by Growing Innovations, LLC. Natural Grass Advisory Group™ (NGAG) is an independent education and support organization for natural grass sport surfaces. Natural Grass Advisory Group™ personnel and representatives soon will work world wide to independently advise and back natural grass sports fields, equestrian surfaces, golf courses, and home lawns.

Natural Grass Advisory Group™ education and support focuses on providing solutions for the on-going challenge of maintaining high-use natural grass surfaces. Historical perception has been that natural grass surfaces can sustain only limited use and require long closure periods for repairs. That perception is no longer reality. With evolving maintenance, new technology, and objective data from surface testing, Natural Grass Advisory Group™ education and support focuses on increasing natural grass use and reduce repairs.

NGAG work proves GrassCanTakeMore™!

Lead Advisor for the Natural Grass Advisory Group™ is Mr. Jerad Minnick. Minnick, a natural grass educator and advocate, is stepping down from his current position of President at Growing Innovations. This change ensures full independence of all NGAG education and support. Minnick will continue as an advisor for Growing Innovations projects and clients. Growing Innovations will immediately start the search for a new President. This person will foster relationships with existing GI partners and spear head the new GI research and surface testing/ data collection program utilized by NGAG and other Growing Innovations clients.

Natural Grass Advisory Group™: www.NaturalGrass.Org @GrassRevolution(twitter)

Lead Advisor Jerad Minnick is at jerad@NaturalGrass.org or @JeradRMinnick(twitter)

About Growing Innovations: Growing Innovations, LLC is a consulting firm dedicated to creating and providing advocacy for new solutions for old problems. Based in Rockville, MD, Growing Innovations provides support for clients in over 10 countries working within the natural grass maintenance industry. Growing Innovations inspiration comes from Albert Einstein: “We can not solve our problems with the same thinking that we used to create them”.

 For More Information: Contact Tori@GrowingInnovations.Net


Rain, Rain, Rain: Play Through on Natural Grass!

Early in the day this past Saturday in Toronto, the rain began to fall. It was light at first, but it prevailed and increased in intensity through the afternoon. Match time for Toronto FC v DC United was 5pm. The rain continued throughout, with veteran Washington Post Soccer Insider Mr. Steven Goff tweeting “Raining so hard here in Toronto, looks like snow falling in front of floodlights” and again “Halftime in Hurricane”. Following that MLS match, Toronto FC II played host to the Wilmington Hammerheads with the rain continuing. By 10pm, 1.5” of rain had fallen and 180 mins of soccer had been played with no more than a scratch on the field.

BMO Field in the rain Saturday (Photo courtesy of Mr. Robert Heggie, Head Sports Field Manager)

BMO Field in the rain Saturday (Photo courtesy of Mr. Robert Heggie, Head Sports Field Manager)

The Saturday weather scene was nearly identical down the eastern USA coast. In Philadelphia at PPL Park, the rain started before and continued through the Philadelphia Union match. 1.3” total from 2pm to 10pm Saturday. 1” of that came just before or during the match. At Maryland SoccerPlex the heavy rain subsided just before match time. 1.75” in volume dumped in less than one hour as the Washington Spirit took the field. Toyota Stadium in Dallas experienced similar just 3 nights prior when 1.5” of rain drenched just before the FC Dallas match. 1/2” more pelted the players, fans, and field during the match. And each time, each field responded with strength and resilience.

1.75" in 45 mins soaks through field in 20 mins on SoccerPlex Stadium (Photo courtesy of Mr. Ryan Bjorn, Head Sports Field Manager)

1.75″ in 45 mins soaks through field in 20 mins on SoccerPlex Stadium (Photo courtesy of Mr. Ryan Bjorn, Head Sports Field Manager)

And the examples list goes on. Heavy rain across the central and eastern United States this past week played havoc on soccer matches.

Each of these are dramatic yet wonderful examples of how the perception “Grass fields always get rained out” is an absolute MYTH. The fact about rain and grass fields is simple: A natural grass field, when built or renovated correctly for drainage, can be 100% rain-out proof.

Yes, nearly any and all rain-out prone grass fields can be renovated easily to reduce or eliminate rainouts. And at 1/5 to 1/15 of the cost of replacing the field with artificial.

THANK YOU and KUDOS to every hard working Sports Field Manager, in ALL sports, who have fought through the recent rains. There are numerous more examples of natural grass fields sustaining play through the long, wet spring and early summer in the south and midwest to east. Your work provides more and more shining examples of how #GrassCanTakeMore™!!!

Stay tuned to GrowingGreenGrass.net in the next week for ideas and examples of renovation and maintenance tricks to help reduce/ eliminate rain-outs.

1.5" of rain in 2 hours prior to match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX

1.5″ of rain in 2 hours prior to match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX

15 mins later: 1.5" drained through prior to match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX (Photos courtesy of Mr. Allen Reed, Head Sports Field Manager)

15 mins later: 1.5″ drained through prior to match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX (Photos courtesy of Mr. Allen Reed, Head Sports Field Manager)

Always Improving! University of Portland’s Merlo Field Universe Fraze Mow #2 Results

This week University of Portland’s Merlo Field became the first cool season turfgrass field in the United States to employ Universe Fraze Mowing for a second time.  In April, 2014, Field Manager Jordon Montgomery also was the first, as the first ever USA Field Manager to turn to the process for cool season turfgrass to remove:

70% poa annua population
– 1″ layer of thatch
– Reduce a thick layer of organic matter accumulated on the top of the sand based soil

The 2015 results of the Universe Fraze Mowing process were superb.

Universe Fraze Mowing of Merlo Field, U of Portland

Universe Fraze Mowing of Merlo Field, U of Portland

Poa Annua Plants Removed From Strong Stand of #RPP Ryegrass and #HGT Kentucky bluegrass

Poa Annua Plants Removed From Strong Stand of #RPP Ryegrass and #HGT Kentucky bluegrass

Poa Annua Patch Removed

Poa Annua Patch Removed


Poa Annua plants and seed have been removed, along with 2014’s thatch and organic build up to keep the field surface from becoming slick.  Now new ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass seed will be sewed.  But even more importantly for durability and increased field use, the improved turfgrass varieties of RPR Ryegrass and HGT Kentucky bluegrass seeded last year following the Universe Fraze Mow can re-generate.  This will encourage the grasses to spread, ultimately increasing the tensile strength of the base surface to reduce divoting and wear.

2014 reduced the poa annua population from 70% to 20%.

2014 Merlo Field Before Universe Fraze Mowing w/ 70% Poa Annua

2014 Merlo Field Before Universe Fraze Mowing w/ 70% Poa Annua

2015 Poa Reduction and Surface Improvement

2015 Poa Reduction and Surface Improvement

The 1″ thatch layer was also removed along with the top of a thick organic layer.  The removal yielded a dramatically better playing surface.  The clean and re-generated surface is tight and strong, leading to nearly no divoting even when being used in the rain.  After 3 months of camps in Summer of 2014, a full men’s and women’s college schedule in the fall, and 13 spring matches, the field was nearly perfect when the 2015 Universe Fraze Mowing took place.

Thick, Dense Stand Even Through Goal Areas After 13 Spring Matches,  Full Men's and Women's Season in the Fall, and Summer Camps in June, July, and August

Thick, Dense Stand Monday, Even Through Goal Areas After 13 Spring Matches, Full Men’s and Women’s Season in the Fall, and Summer Camps in June, July, and August

When Merlo Field is/ was in such excellent condition and the poa annua had been dramatically reduced, why Universe Fraze Mowing in 2015?

Simple.  Improvement.

From Field Manager Jordon Montgomery… “We want to continue to improve the playing surface while increasing use. The introduction Portland Timbers 2, the USL pro team calling Merlo Field home is an example of that.  All our home teams and events need the best playing surface we can provide while being environmentally and budget conscious.  That all leads to Universe Fraze Mowing”.  


AMAZING EVOLUTION & Quick History!  Universe fraze mowing cool season turfgrass was first performed at Paris St-Germain’s Parc des Princes Stadium in July of 2013.  New Head Groundsman Jonathan Calderwood chose the bold method, previously only used in the United States on bermudagrass, to remove the poa annua plants in his pitch and leave behind the existing desirable Kentucky bluegrass and Ryegrass.

PSG Renovation July 2013 (32)

So yes… Universe Fraze Mowing is DIFFERENT than basic fraise mowing.  Fraise mowing was introduced in 1996 by Mr. Ko Rodenburg, Superintendent of Parks Maintenance in Rotterdam, Holland when he invited the KORO Field Topmaker.  Rodenburg invented the machine to clean the poa annua seed off the top of his playing fields and to encourage some basic regeneration.  Fraise mowing was born!

With the introduction of the KORO Universe® Rotor for the Field Topmaker in winter of 2012-2013; allowing stolons and rhizomes on spreading grasses to remain while removing organic, thatch, and weed seed; lead to Universe Fraze Mowing directly from this blog to Mr. Allen Reed and Mr. Miles Studhalter’s bermuda fields at FC Dallas.  See for details: Summary of a new concept; Fraze Mowing & Concept to Active Practice; Fraze Mowing Debuts at FC Dallas.   The use on bermudagrass had started, then Mr. Calderwood working with Mr. Simon Gumbrill from Campey Turf Care, took the lessons from bermudagrass and implemented them to cool season. Now Jordon Montgomery in Portland as taken it even further with repeated use.  AMAZING how it continues to evolve with creative minded Field Managers ready and willing to try to new things!  #GrassCanTakeMore!

#GrassCanTakeMore Comes Alive!


#GrassCanTakeMore Comes Alive!

#GrassCanTakeMore successfully came alive this week in the first ever #GrassCanTakeMore seminar from Growing Innovations and Turf Republic in Rockville, MD on Tuesday.

THANK YOU to the 81 participants that took part in the event. The exchange of ideas was fantastic! Your search for solutions and willingness to ask questions absolutely made the event a success! And THANK YOU to Mr. Dave Nehila and Mr. John Turnour for sharing with group and feeding the idea exchange. Wow, great!

Additionally, Thank You to Genesis Turfgrass, Finch Inc, and Oakwood Sod for supporting #GrassCanTakeMore as the event sponsors. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Look to @GrowingInnovations on twitter, www.growinginnovations.net and @TurfRepublic on Twitter, Facebook, and www.TurfRepublic.com for more information from the event.

Also look for announcements for the next upcoming #GrassCanTakeMore events. New, creative, budget responsible solutions are marking it possible to improve grass field quality and meet that demand to increase use. #GrassCanTakeMore Grass Field Workshops bring you these solutions in real-life, usable steps to take home to improve grass fields.

THANK YOU again to all of the participants. Grass Fields Can Take More!


Grass IS Taking More! On Pro Soccer Field of the Year


This piece is written in reference to:  Turning Green Into Gold; How Maureen Hendricks Field at the Maryland SoccerPlex Became the First Women’s Soccer Venue to Win Professional Field of the Year

The perception that natural grass fields can’t sustain heavy use is starting to go away. There are a growing number of examples around the world of heavy use grass fields that are maintained in excellent shape. Even with smaller budgets.

But still the “how much can grass take” debate still is ongoing. How much CAN a grass field take!? Truly so many factors are involved. Ultimately the examples of amazing fields around the world simply go back to using new and better tools for maintenance and also focusing on the skills of professional, creative, hard working Sports Field Managers.

What an exciting time!

Maryland Soccer Foundation shared a wonderful example of how grass can take more this week in an article highlighting their Sports Field Maintenance crew on the STMA Professional Soccer Field of the Year, Hendricks Field. With that award, Hendricks recently became the first ever professional women’s field in any sport to win a Field of the Year award. But even more unique, the field hosted over 750 hours of non-professional sporting events in additional to the professional use. Hendricks won 2011 Parks Soccer Field of the Year as well during a year hiatus of women’s soccer when the field hosted nearly 1000 hours of events. The field again made news in the fall of 2012 when it was renovated, re-seeded with Kentucky bluegrass, and re-opened 35 days after seeding. Wow!

Certainly all of these amazing feats by 1 field seem like complete outliers because just a few years ago such high use at any level was thought to be impossible for grass. But now these things give as examples of the extremely bright and exciting future for natural grass fields and professional, creative, hard work Sports Field Managers. Using new and better tools for maintenance and by adopting new philosophies around the “3 Keys to High Traffic Maintenance” is changing what was once considered impossible and making it possible!

Walt Disney said it best, and field managers around the world are proving it: “It is Kind of Fun to Do the Impossible” ; ) Well done Sports Field Managers. Well done. #GrassCanTakeMore

Turning Green Into Gold; How Maureen Hendricks Field at the Maryland SoccerPlex Became the First Women’s Soccer Venue to Win Professional Field of the Year


Spreading How #GrassCanTakeMore: Take Part in the Upcoming Events!

#GrassCanTakeMore is spreading around the world.  With it, the possibilities of natural grass fields are multiplying!

During the next few weeks, Growing Green Grass’s Jerad Minnick will be sharing those possibilities and exploring more ideas to help you learn more!

Follow along with these events and to take part in the ideas and learning here at Growing Green Grass, or at @GrassRevolution on twitter.  Hopefully you can take part in one of the upcoming events to ask questions, provide feedback and become a living part of the #GrassCanTakeMore movement!

Upcoming Events In The USA and Europe to Be Part of #GrassCanTakeMore:

Friday, November 7:  Texas Recreation & Parks Society North Conference
Location: Grand Prairie, TX

Click to access trapsmatrix2014.pdf

Tuesday, November 11: 36th Annual Congress of Greenkeepers
Location:  Valencia, Spain

Tuesday, November 18:  North Carolina/ South Carolina STMA Conference
Location: Mrytle Beach, SC

Click to access 2014%20STMA%20Conference%20Brochure.pdf

Thursday, December 4: Institute of Groundsmanship Awards
Location: stadiummk: Milton Keynes, UK

Wednesday, December 10:  Missouri Green Industry Conference 
Location: St. Charles, MO

Thursday, December 11: Ohio Turfgrass Foundation Conference
Location: Sandusky, OH


XtraGrass at Lakewood Memorial



In search of new ideas for natural grass surfaces, Growing Green Grass visited JeffCo Schools Lakewood Memorial Stadium last week in Denver, CO. The Lakewood Memorial field features a new version of synthetic reinforcement for natural grass called XtraGrass. The field is a RPR/ HGT seeded field, and has had 60 soccer matches played in 60 days.  The condition of the field was fantastic. Great work by Sports Field Manager Chris Gray and team at JeffCo Schools!  Thanks Chris for having us!

What is XtraGrass:
XtraGrass is essentially synthetic turf that is infilled with sand and grass instead of rubber, sand, cork, etc. Once XtraGrass is installed, the carpet “backing” begins to biodegrade and the natural grass roots through into the soil below.


 How Does It Work?
The synthetic fibers coming up through the sand protect the crown of the grass plants. When a player stops, plants, turns, or pushes off, the synthetic fibers assist in footing and provide reinforcement to reduce shear and divots. Many of the 60 matches at Lakewood Memorial have been played in the rain, and absolutely no divots or tears were evident. Especially telling as the field was seeded only in late June and opened in late August. When the field begins to wear, the synthetic fibers provide continued stability and supply a green cast to the field. XtraGrass on its own without sand and grass infill achieves a FIFA 1-star rating.

Graff Turf on XtraGrass Installation 

Roots pushing through a piece we ripped up

Roots pushing through a piece we ripped up

How Is It Different?
The initial question that comes to mind is “how is XtraGrass different”? Different than SportGrass in the 90’s, different than the product distributed by Motz currently, different than even Desso’s GrassMaster. Those are all questions that have to be answered by the producers of each of those products. But certainly it seems that XtraGrass could be just as its advertised.. Different. The biodegradable backing on the field at Lakewood is showing signs of break down, and roots are starting to push through into the native soil below. And as mentioned, absolutely no divoting was present on the surface of the field

 Graff Turf on Grow-In 

Maintenance of an XtraGrass field is relatively similar to any other high traffic grass field. Lakewood Memorial is not a big budget field; rather Mr. Gray is on a small budget with challenges that most all field managers can relate to.

In regards to specific XtraGrass maintenance, regular aeration with solid tines/ deep tines to keep the field de-compacted is important. Core aeration is not possible because the backing will not go through the tines, but the top layer is sand and the grass is grown in from seed so there is no organic layer need to be opened up w/ core aeration. Dry-Ject, Air2G2, and such seem possible. As is slicing or spiking to promote rooting through the backing.

The main maintenance key in the long term will be thatch management. Thatch/ organic build up will have to be limited to keep the synthetic fibers in play. If the build up gets above the fibers, they will be useless. Regular, light verticutting and yearly to bi-yearly Universe® fraze mowing will be required. The Universe® rotor for the KORO Field Topmaker was originally invented to clean organic from Desso Grassmaster to avoid this very thing, so it is ideal for XtraGrass. Ultimately though, XtraGrass requires little special treatment than any other grass field

Synthetic fibers: smooth; RPR ryegrass: veins

Synthetic fibers: smooth; RPR ryegrass: veins

At initial introduction, XtraGrass seems to be exactly what it is advertised to be. A natural grass/ synthetic hybrid system is scary to many because of the failures of products in the past. But because those failures in the past are understood, it is possible for such a product to work in the present and future. The Lakewood Memorial field is a high traffic, low maintenance example of how XtraGrass could help high traffic fields, especially in cool season climates where stability is an issue. Sports field managers and users are in need of a bridge product between full synthetic and standard natural grass… XtraGrass very much could be that bridge.

We will continue to observe and update you… more to come!

See the XtraGrass website: http://www.xtragrass.com/en/