Group of kids playing on a athletic field

Athletic Fields: Best Sod for Outdoor Sports

Sports are a big deal in our culture – from Little League baseball to the Super Bowl and all the way to the Olympics. Often times, the field on which the game is played is overlooked by players and fans alike. Maintaining an athletic field requires time, effort, and precision that most people don’t even consider. The next time you’re at a game, take a look around and appreciate all the work that went into making sure the field is just right. 

Factors to Consider

There are a number of factors to consider when selecting the best type of grass for outdoor sports. Different sports have different requirements of the grass on which they are played. In order to meet those requirements, one will need to consider common concerns such as durability, recovery, consistency, resistance to pests and disease, and even how well it performs in shady areas.  

Factors to Consider When Selecting Sod for Athletic Fields

Durability

Recovery

Consistency

Drought Resistance

Resistance to Pests and Disease

Shade Performance

Best Grass Type by Sport

Each sport is unique as they utilize the playing field in different ways and therefore it is important to understand which types of grasses are best for each sport.  

Football

In football, there is less contact between the ball and the grass than in other sports, so grass consistency is less important. However, due to players wearing cleats and the roughness of the sport, the grass can take a beating, making traffic tolerance and recovery extremely important.

In the northern United States and the transition zone, there are three primary types of cool-season grasses used for football fields: bluegrass, tall fescue, and perennial ryegrass.

grass zone map

In the South, Bermudagrass is most commonly used for football fields, followed by bluegrass. Shade tolerance is the primary deciding factor between these two varieties when it comes to sports fields. If the athletic field or stadium gets full sun, Bermuda is the way to go. If the field or stadium gets more shade, bluegrass performs well in shady areas. 

Bluegrass for the South

New varieties of bluegrass have been developed specifically for use in the South, such as Sunbelt Blue™ and Southern Blue™. These varieties are a cool season cross between Texas and Kentucky bluegrass. They keep their green color year-round, have superior resistance to disease, and their rhizomatous root system provides heat and drought resistance and also allows it recover from stress and damage.

Golf

Golf is a sport that is heavily dependent on the quality of its grass playing surface. In fact, golf uses more different types of grass than any other sport. Every aspect of the game, from the club you use to the way you swing, is heavily influenced by the type and quality of the grass on the course.

Golf course grasses have a large impact on a player’s golfing experience. A number of grass types are used on golf courses, each with its own pros and cons. The types of grasses differ from region to region in their ability to withstand both cold and heat.

In the Southern United States, Bermudagrass, zoysia, and fescue are commonly used on golf courses. Of these three, Bermuda is most often used due to its ability to withstand wear and tear. You can commonly find Bermuda on putting greens due to its fast recovery rate. 

On golf courses it is important to have varying lengths of grass around the course. Bermuda is very receptive to being mowed at a variety of heights, making it a top contender. 

In the North, bluegrass and perennial ryegrass are commonly used for fairways and tees. 

Multi-Sport

Let’s face it, many recreational fields are multi-sport fields, where football, soccer, lacrosse, and rugby are all played on the same surface. Luckily, most sports have similar requirements where traffic tolerance and damage repair rates are the most important factors. 

Bermudagrass is one of the best grass types for multi-sport athletic fields and grows well in the South and the transition zone. Bermuda is dense, fast-growing, and repairs itself quickly. Not only is Bermudagrass durable, and user-friendly for the intense wear of sports it also has a fast spring green-up. 

During winter months, dormant Bermuda can be overseeded with perennial ryegrass to provide year-round use. 

Baseball

When walking into a ballpark one of the first things that catches your eye is the lush, green, perfectly maintained grass spreading across the field. While there is no universal best grass for baseball fields, bluegrass is the most commonly used grass type on baseball fields across the country.

Bermudagrass is perfect for ballparks in hotter, drier areas since it is dense, has excellent traffic tolerance, and quickly recovers from injury. The most commonly used type of Bermudagrass for ballparks is Tifway 419

baseball fields installed with TifWay 419 bermuda sod, atlanta georiga

At NG Turf we offer a wide range of sod for sale, including many different grass varieties. Whether you are looking for bluegrass for a football field or Bermudagrass for a golf course our Certified Turfgrass Professionals can help you evaluate your unique athletic field needs and choose the best grass variety to suit your specific sport. Give us a call at 770-832-8608 or email info@NGTurf.com. 

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