August 2010

Plan Your Home Lawn Renovation NOW!


front_yard_photo_1.jpg Every year the fall brings you good things.  Along with the fall baseball classic it lets you revive your home lawn time before winter.  In an effort to keep it simple stupid (the KISS principle) you should plan your renovation according to your geographical area.  Different grasses + different climates = different turf programs.  Northern grasses are fescues and bluegrasses while southern grasses are bermudas, St Augstine, bahia and then you have transition grasses.  This is the tough one because you can have overseeded bermudas and zoysias.

Bottom line, a little work this fall can improve your lawn for the spring.  Here is a list of projects you may consider for your lawn.

1.  Get a soil sample and have it tested by your local extension office.  This sounds tough but its as simple as it sounds. Every county has an extension agent that can send you in the right direction.  You will get your turf’s PH tested and also see what your lawn is missing as it relates to nutrients. Go to a couple spots in your yard to collect soil Put the  sample of soil and root mass goes into a quart sized zip lock bag.  . This test takes about 10 days…

2.  The report will give you the specifics of materials to purchase and at what rate to apply the materials. Some even give you the exact brand. 

3.  Dethatch your lawn. Bluegrass and fescue lawns build thatch. Thatch is the layer of dead grass between the ground and where before the blade turns green. Average thatch is around 1/2 inch thick. If its thicker than 1/2inch rent a de-thatcher and rake up the thatch layer debris.

4.  Lawns hardly ever receive aerification. If you noticed during the dry summer months that your lawn turned brown faster than others?  Probably means you have a lawn that needs aerification so the roots can grow deeper.   This is a process of plugging holes in your yard with a machine…. (they used to use shoes for plugging lawns years ago… they had long nails on them) The process of renting a machine could get expensive depending on how big your yard is but nevertheless it will improve the root growth and relieve compaction of the soil.Cuba_plug_picking_1

5.  Seed your lawn at a half rate in the fall.  Some people ask why you would seed before the winter because the seed will not germinate.  That is not entirely true because bluegrass, fescues and rye enjoy cool temperatures and you will be surprised at what comes up in the spring. In the northeast you should be planning to seed next month.  Broadcast your seed after the aerfication and de-thatching. 

6. Time to fertilize.  The soil test will give you a some direction of types of fertlizer but more importantly don’t apply a pre emergence herbicide to your lawn if you overseeded.  Nothing will germinate.  If your lawn is healthy and you are not overseeding…. then put out a granular pre-emergence in the fall with your fertilizer application. This will help control broadleaf and grassy weeds in the spring.  If you didn’t obtain a soil test, play it safe and Fertilize with a well rounded N-P-K product with micro nutrients per manufacturers suggested rates.  

7. Irrigate or water your lawn for a couple days after the renovation is completed to wash the seed and fertilize next to the soil for good contact.

8.  Patch any areas that require sod or new grass in the fall as well and once the seed starts to grow try and keep off the grass as much as possible.

That should get you started for a healthy turf in 2011!  Good Luck  keep_off_the_grass.jpg

Baseball in Venezuela is more than a Sport

caracas7ij8.jpgTraveling to Venezuela has always been one of those interesting events.  Never the same and always seeing things I probably wouldn’t have anywhere else in the world.  The people in this country have a passion for baseball and team rivalry is clearly defined.   On this trip I had to check out ballparks in Maracaibo, Puerto la Cruz and Margarita Island and instead of driving I flew with Jimmy M, Alvaro S. who is MLB’s RSA in Venezuela. As former Interpol chief of the island he knows practically everyone in the country and if he doesn’t, he will soon know you because he has a wonderful gift of being kind.  Nevertheless the ballparks varied in need of work and improvements.  In Maracaibo the stadium is old and needs some TLC.  They have only 6 weeks before  winter league play.   Margarita Island P8241150.JPGwas pretty cool. Reminded me of Barcelona.  Neat ballpark with some upgrades since they recently hosted the 2009 Caribbean World Series.  Final stop was Puerto La Cruz which was completely under construction.  They are installing the first synthetic turf on the island and upgrading the façade of the park.

At each airport we had to pay a exit tax. Normally something like 5 bucks.  Not a big deal but always after you pay for the ticket.   On the day I left from Caracas to head home I was approached by a Venezuelan policeman who asked if I needed some help. I stated no I was just going to pay my exit tax.  He stated he would handle it since they only take Bolivars and I could just pay him the 50 bucks. That’s when a red light went off because last time I paid the exit tax in cascaras it was 38 dollars and they took US
P8251194.JPGcurrency.  I kindly declined the officer’s scam.  Interesting city Caracas.  Unfortunately it just topped the charts as the city with eh Worlds Highest Murder rate.  7676 in 2009. That’s about 1 murder every hour and half.      I can say that I was around the people in all of the cities and never felt like I was in danger.    Of course I did have Alvaro with me!    Chad Olsen spent the week in Mexico so I am sure he has a story or two.    Heading to Europe next week.  Probably a little less crazy…Hard to believe that there are only 6 weeks before the winter league starts.  

Busy week for International Baseball

2010 womens USA team.jpgThis past week was an interesting one for Interantional Baseball Competition.  The  USA Womens World Cup Basbeall team in Vz. . First off…. Congrats on coming in as Bronze winners.  Japan took the Gold medal with Australia rolling in with the silver.  Earlier in the week the tournament was marred by a shooting at the field where the Hong Kong team  2nd baseman was struck in the leg.   The tournament was moved to Maracay, VZ which then went on without a hitch.    P6101202.JPGGlad the girls are heading home safely.  The stadium in Maracay has improved over the past few years and the field had addtional drainage installed less than a month ago.   In the states…Team Mexico beat Ocala in Cal Ripken’s Championship up in Abderdeen.    

Heading down to Maragarita Island and Puerto La Cruz over the next couple days to check out a few ballparks before the Winter league season. 

Taiwan Field Maintenance Clinic

P8021097.JPGDuring the past few days Chad Olsen and I have been holding clinics for the CTBA in an effort to improve field of play conditons on many of the baseball fields around the country.  I want to thank the CTBA for hosting these events and helping them be so successful. Tianmu Stadium is a really cool ballpark.  It’s really over used and the guys who take care of it (Randy and Quan) do a good job with what they have to work with.  More like..the time they
P8031107.JPG have to work with.  This field is used daily 3 and 4 times a day by different clubs and ages.  Its great to see so many kids playing sports, but at the same time sad to see the field get no rest or time for simple maintenance needs.  It was a fun clinic because the Taiwan people are so nice and yearn for baseball knowledge.   

Young Taiwan GroundCrew makes it happen!

kids marking home.jpg
kids watering 1st base.jpgJust outside of Tainan City, Taiwan there is a special little field maintained by some very special little people.  I would have to say this might be the youngest groundcrew I have ever seen.  Each with a job and task to prepare the field for the game.  What a sight to see kids doing the work of adults and having fun doing it.
kids measuring to mound.jpg 
This type of culture being implemented into children’s minds at such an early age  is remarkable.  My hat is off to Li Chang who shared this amazing story and photos of what they are doing at this little league field. Hopefully the tips we have shown him will help make this a better program. They have developed a maintenance program for the kids to follow.  I would have to say this would infield watered.jpgprobably never be seen in the USA,  
but who knows. 

If you make things fun,  kids will do it and To these guys it’s a fun task.   I like how they water the dirt and the “shape” of the field is actually made with water.  Very creative! !   This is truly Inspirational for all of us in the sportsturf industry. What if we could get all of our neighborhoods to do this!