Why does stadium turf look so good all the time?

Posted on May 27, 2020 by Greg Pelka

With the NRL season due to start tomorrow, and AFL not too far away, your TV screens will be graced with the green green grass of sporting stadiums across the country for the next few months.

Photo courtesy of Lawn Solutions Australia.

But, have you ever wondered how the stadium turf remains looking so good all season, when it is hit with so much wear and tear? Wonder no longer – we found out for you! If you would like a little more information though, call us on (07) 5448 6398 and we can help.

Australian Stadium Turf

When you watch a footy game on TV, you’ve likely commented (or thought about commenting) about how green and/or the grass looks – maybe even said you wish your lawn looked like that. Stadium turf doesn’t magically wake up looking like that – there is a lot of preparation that goes on bother above and below the ground.

Sports field lawn tiers

Sports fields in Australia are broken down into 3 Tiers:

  • Major Stadiums: AAMI Park, Adelaide Oval, ANZ Stadium, Bankwest Stadium, Gabba, Marvel Stadium, the MCG, Optus Stadium, Suncorp Stadium and SCG.
  • Tier 2: 10,000 to 20,000-seat venues that are usually council or club-owned and managed by full-time ground staff. Examples includes Sydney’s Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Panthers Stadium and New Era Stadium.
  • Tier 3: Less than 10,000-seat sites that are usually local council grounds. Examples include Sydney’s Drummoyne Oval and Bankstown Oval.

Stadium turf types and installation

A lot of major sports stadiums in Australia use either kikuyu or couch turf, with all major stadiums using couch, however Tier 2 and 3 grounds can vary.

When it comes to major stadiums, they all have million-dollar, USGA-specified (United States Golf Association) sand profiles. These profiles are very involved, using extensive drainage arrangements such as drainage pipes, gravel and sand that needs to be settled and graded to ensure run-off. What us as viewers see, the grass itself, is obviously the top profile.

For Tier 2 grounds, most have sand profiles but there are a few that do not. Tier 3 stadiums are usually existing sites, so the soil profiles are just levelled and then lawn is sprigged or turfed.

Stadium turf maintenance

Maintenance of stadium turf is very involved. Tools used by groundsmen include:

  • Mowers.
  • Blowers.
  • Rakes.
  • Tractors.
  • Snippers.
  • Edgers.
  • Line Marking Machines.

And that is just the beginning. Two other handy renovation machines used, which you likely won’t have lying around at home, is a scarifier and a verti-drain. A scarifier is used to dethatch the ground and remove old grass, while a verti-drain is a coring machine that’s used to aerate the surface.

Lawn prep for game day

During the 7 days before a match is played at a major stadium, the following may be completed by the stadium curator:

  • The sports posts may be installed and/or changed.
  • The lawn surface may be sprayed with iron and magnesium (to enhance colour).
  • Cut the pattern, depending on the sport, 10 to 30 times.
  • If the ground is unmarked, it will be measured and marked ready for marking the night before or day of the game to ensure the best colour of the lines. If the ground is marked, the lines will need to be washed out immediately after the previous sport has been played to ensure that paint doesn’t stick to grass.
  • The surface pattern will be with a light fairway mower without the cutting reels engaged just before the game.
  • Any and all last-minute touch-ups to lines will be completed.
  • The surface will be made wet. If it’s a soccer match, most teams like the surface wet prior to warm-up, kick-off and half-time. This assists players’ sliding and affects the speed of the ball.

What about after a game?

Following a sports match, stadium staff walk across the turf with buckets of sand and a screwdriver, filling in holes and using the screwdriver to turn divots back out. If there are deep divots, lawn from a turf nursery may be used to fill them in then the surface will be cut. What happens next really depends on the stadium, as green keeping practices can differ. This includes wetting the turf, blowing or vacuuming – it varies!

How often is stadium turf replaced?

Stadium turf in major stadiums and Tier 2 venues generally replace their goal squares and centre squares once a year, with the rest of the lawn (if maintained correctly) lasting up to 10 years.

How can you get your turf looking like a major stadium?

Cut your lawn regularly! That is the number 1 tip to get your turf looking like a footy field – regular mowing (at least 3 times a week during its growing period) and follow with a fertiliser. A solid pest management schedule is also super important, so try these 2 and you’ll be one step closer to top tier looking turf.

If you would like a more information, call Rosemount Turf on (07) 5448 6398 today.

Resources:

Lawn Solutions Australia
Ever wondered how football stadiums look so good on tv?
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Greg Pelka

We are a local, Sunshine Coast turf grass company with a committed team to providing a quality lawn. Like any small business it's the people who make it great. Above are the friendly staff you'll meet and deal with when ordering turf from Rosemount Turf.

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