On top of the standard criteria that all turf professionals must consider when selecting a turfgrass variety for a specific site (such as heat, drought and cold tolerance), sports turf managers face the additional challenges of repeated, on-going turf injury from wear and tear. A turf stand’s ability to withstand abuse and recover quickly from wear is crucial.
In the transition zone, bermudagrasses have long been the standard choice for high-traffic athletic fields. With their aggressive spreading habit from both aboveground stolons and underground rhizomes, bermudas boast a capacity for rapid self-repair like no other turfgrass species. When choosing among the bermudagrasses for a trafficked site, however, keep the variety’s blade width in mind. The finer-bladed cultivars tend to exhibit greater turf density and, so, show wear more slowly than the wider-bladed cultivars. The coarser-textured, more rapidly spreading cultivars, on the other hand, typically show wear sooner, but they recover more quickly. So, while a fine-bladed cultivar such as TifGrand is an outstanding choice for a game field only, an aggressive cultivar such as T10 or Patriot is likely a more suitable selection for a practice field.
With the exception of a very few new shade-tolerant varieties such as TifGrand, however, the great majority of bermudagrasses require full sun for optimum performance. That’s why some turf managers with shaded and/or lower-use sites, such baseball and softball fields, opt for one of the zoysiagrass varieties. Not only do many zoysias exhibit excellent shade tolerance, but they also spread by stolon growth, covering worn areas (albeit more slowly than bermudagrasses) without the need for resodding or reseeding. They are also exceptionally drought tolerant and typically require far less fertility than bermudagrasses.
Here’s our all-star line-up of outstanding sports-turf performers.