Sand Cap Build-Up Systems Sand Cap Build-Up Systems

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					                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sand Cap
                                                                                                                                                                                              Build-Up Systems
                                                                                                                                                                                                           for
                                                                                                                                                                                               Michigan High School Fields




                                                                                                                                                                                                     A.R. Kowalewski, J.N. Rogers III and J.R.Crum
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                                                                                                                                                                                                         Department of Crop and Soil Sciences
                           gard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status,                   Michigan State University
                           family status or veteran status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. De-
                           partment of Agriculture. Thomas G. Coon, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing, MI 48824. This information is for educational purposes only.
                           Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned.


Printed - 03/09, $10.00, for sale only.                                    www.turf.msu.edu
                                                                                                                       At this time it is important to correct any low spots   sand profile. This option is considerably less ex-
                                                                                                                       (wet spots) in the existing slope by leveling them      pensive than the first three options. It will likely
The typical Michigan high school athletic field serves as a focal point for social gatherings and adds to a
                                                                                                                       with topsoil; soil removed during drain line instal-    take more than one year to get 2” of material built
                                                                                                                       lation would be perfectly appropriate or you can        up, but you also have the option of adding more
sense of community pride. It is typically one of the few fields in town with lights, making it host to a variety of

                                                                                                                       plan to use the same sand root zone to fill the low     than 2” if the situation calls for it in the future.
after school and work events including football, lacrosse, soccer, cheerleading, and band. Therefore, having
an aesthetically pleasing and functional high school athletic field is often important to a variety of members in      areas - the idea is that these need to be leveled.
                                                                                                                       Subsequent repair to any irrigation line damage is
                                                                                                                       necessary or install a new, more efficient system         The SCBUS is a natural extension and combi-
the average community.                                                                                                                                                         Research

                                                          well-graded, particles distributed across a range            at the time. Then begins an aggressive sand-            nation of two currently proven applications. First,
In order to have a significant number of events on        of sizes, to maximize soil stability, and should             based topdressing program during the summer             the use of repeated sand topdressing in order to
The Problem

a natural grass playing field and provide reason-         contain approximately 90% sand. The turfgrass                with a “specific high sand-based material” (ap-         develop a sand-based profile has proven to be
able playing conditions throughout the fall, re-          is then reestablished from seed.                             proximately 90% well-graded sand).                      successful in the golf course industry for over 30
gardless of weather, the root zone must be                                                                                                                                     years. Second, sand-based athletic fields are
primarily sand based. Unfortunately, the majority         It is critical to use seed rather than sod, because          Sand topdressing would be coupled with your an-         widely used in Michigan and proven to provide a
of Michigan’s high school athletic fields are con-        sod placed over sand will create a perched water             nual field renovation program (including reseed-        superior playing surface in comparison to native
structed on native soil. These fields rely on sur-        table, which will significantly inhibit soil infiltration.   ing, cultivation, etc). The goal would be to add at     soil fields.
face drainage during periods of heavy rainfall,           Installing an extensive drain system with drain              least 2” of topdressing as fast as possible without       Research on this renovation process is currently
failing to provide adequate drainage of surplus           lines running the length of the field spaced every           compromising fall time playing quality. This            be conducted by Alexander R. Kowalewski, PhD
water. Saturated field conditions substantially re-       8-20’ is also necessary. (New irrigation systems             means that the topdressing program would begin          student, to provide additional scientific justifica-
duce soil cohesion, adversely affecting traction          are usually automatic additions in these new                 in early June and go only through early August.         tion for the procedure. Funding will be sought
and stability. Reduced stability in combination           fields, and are highly recommended because of                Adding 1” would not be an issue to surface stabil-      through sources within the state to carry out his
with heavy use in the typical fall athletic season,       the reduced water holding potential of the sand-             ity in this time frame. During this period it is also   specific research project. If you choose to move
results in turfgrass failure, decreased overall           based system.) This option also takes a field out            important to regularly clean and maintain irriga-       forward with a project of this nature please con-
playability and diminished visual aesthetics.             of play the same amount of time. The major dif-              tion heads to prevent sand from damaging the            tact John N. Rogers, III or Alexander R.
                                                          ference in cost between the conventional sand-               system. The topdressing stops in early August to        Kowalewski for progress monitoring through up-
                                                          based field and the sand cap is due to hauling off           allow settling prior to usage in the fall.              dates and possible visitations.
Current solutions to this problem include com-            of the extra material during excavation as well as
The Solutions

plete field conversion to a synthetic or sand-            the total amount of material to bring the field back         During the first year your field may not reach the
based turfgrass system.                                   to grade.                                                    level of sand necessary to prevent saturated sur-       Preliminary findings from research conducted in
                                                                                                                                                                               Preliminary Research Findings

                                                                                                                       face conditions, particularly in low lying areas.       2007 show that as much as 1/3” of topdressing
Synthetic Field: The first, most expensive, op-                                                                        The drain tiles will prevent standing water from        can be applied in a single application without
tion is the installation of a synthetic athletic field.     The fourth, least expensive, option for sand               developing providing you with a system that is          being detrimental to turfgrass health. However,
                                                          Sand-Cap Build-Up System [SCBUS]

Costs range ranges from $600,000 – 1,000,000.             based fields is a “sand cap build-up system”                 better than your original conditions. The next          lighter more frequent applications (½” of top-
                                                          (SCBUS), which can be done in four simple steps              spring the topdressing process would begin again        dressing applied over a one month) will increase
Sand Based Field: The second option is a con-             steps for $45,400-91,000 [price includes irrigation          to add the rest of the material, further increasing     surface stability. Up to 4” of sand topdressing
ventional sand-based field with a gravel drainage         system installation ($15,000), 6-20’ drain tile              drainage capacity. At the end you would have a          sand applied over a two year period, while not im-
layer that will cost from $400,000 - 600,000, and         spacing ($60,000-14,400, respectively), and 2”               well drained, stable, sand-based field at a fraction    proving stability, will increase turfgrass coverage.
take your field out of play for half of the year.         sand layer ($16,000)].                                       of the cost required for other renovation
This involves excavating 12-16” of soil and in-                                                                        processes.                                              A drain tile spacing of 13’, which will substantially
stalling drain tile, a 4” gravel layer and a 12” sand     The concept behind the SCBUS is to combine the                                                                       reduce installation costs ($22,400-28,000), is ad-
based root zone. It will also necessitate the es-         advantages of the sand cap system (drainage                  The SCBUS will not only reduce the annual repair        equate to provide sufficient drainage and stability
tablishment of turf either by sod or seed.                and sand root zone playing surface) while provid-            costs required for a native soil field, but also re-    when 1” of sand topdressing ($8,000) has been
                                                          ing almost uninterrupted field availability. The             duce the initial cost of field renovation. To install   applied. However, 2008 results suggest that if 2”
Sand Cap Model: The third option for sand                 idea is to cut drains in the existing field [running         the drainage and backfill a field with 6’ centers       of sand topdressing ($16,000) has been accumu-
based athletic fields is the sand cap model, which        lengthwise on 6 - 20’ centers depending on the               (would approximately have thirty 400’ x 4” drain        lated and an adequate surface slope is available
has been employed many times in Michigan                  surface grade and slope (see Renovation Flow                 lines @ $4-5/linear foot) would cost $48,000-           (minimum of 1%) drain tile spacing can be in-
under the direction and guidance of Dr. John N.           Chart), put drain tile in the lines, back fill with pea      60,000 installed, while a field with 13’ centers        creased to distances greater than 20’. Drain tile
Rogers and MSU in the last 7 years, and can cost          stone and then sand, or a coarse sand alone                  would cost $22,400-28,000, and 20’ centers              installation at 20’ spacing would cost approxi-
from $150,000 - 300,000. This method is less ex-                                                                       would cost $14,400-18,000. Then topdressing             mately $14,400-18,000. It is important to note
pensive because only a small layer of topsoil (2-                                                                      would begin on the field during the summer with         that drain tiles are necessary to prevent standing
                                                          (See Grand Blanc installation, page 6).

5”) is removed from the field, and replaced with a                                                                     each inch of material costing about $8,000 (labor       water from accumulating along sidelines and
5-6” layer of specifically blended high sand-based                                                                     and materials). The sand is added on a weekly           other low lying areas and therefore should not be
root zone material. This sand material should be                                                                       basis and the existing grass grows up through the       completely excluded from the renovation process.
2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 3
                     Sand Cap Build-Up System                                                                                                    Renovation Flow Chart
                           At-A-Glance
                                                                                                                               The following flow chart is designed for making renovation decisions,
                                      Renovation Timeline                                                                         based on a variety of field conditions, prior to installation of a
                                                                                                                                                     Sand Cap Build-Up System

    Year 1
       • Install Drain Lines                  • Repeated Sand Topdressing        • Standard Athletic Season
       • Repair Irrigation System                                                Management
       • Renovate Field


               April - May                           June - July                           August                                                   Surface Slope ≥ 1.0% and Even Surface Grade

    Year 2
          • Standard Annual Renovations       • Repeated Sand Topdressing        • Standard Athletic Season                                                                        NO                                                     YES
                                                                                 Management

                                                                                                                                 Cope with slope < 1.0%                                  Amend slope and / or
                                                                                                                               and / or surface undulations                               surface undulation                        Drain Spacing
               April - May                           June - July                           August
                                                                                                                                     Drain Spacing 6’                                    Drain Spacing 13-20’                           13-20’



                                        Build-Up Schematic
                            Following drain tile installation, repeated sand topdressing                                                                                         Irrigation System
                           will produce a sand-based system capable of rapid drainage.                                                         NO                                                                                        YES

                                                      0.5-2.0% Slope
                                                    0.5-2% Slope
                                                                                                                               Intsall irrigation system at a                                      Pipe depth < 15”                    Pipe depth ≥ 15”
                                                                                                                                         depth ≥ 15”
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Irrigation System will                    No repairs
                                          Sand-based Topdressing                                                                                                                                      require repairs                        required



                      12-18”                                                  Coarse Sand
                                                      Native Soil
                                                                                    Drain Tile
                      2-4”                                                                                                                                            Turfgrass Coverage ≥ 60%
                                                                                                                                    NO                                                                                                          YES
                                                           6-20’
    Cost Analysis                                                                                                            • Cut drain lines at 12” depth                                      - Cut drain lines at 12” depth
    Drain Tiles: $4-5 linear foot                                 Total Renovation Cost:                                     • Install 4” drain tile                                             - Install 4” drain tile.
    6’ drain spacing: $48,000-60,000 per field (football field)   6’ drain tile spacing and 6” sand layer: $96,000-108,000
                                                                                                                             • Backfilll with coarse sand or pea stone                           - Backfill with coarse sand or pea stone
    10’ drain spacing: $28,800-36,000 per field                   (recommended prior to research)
                                                                                                                             • Topdress ¼”
                                                                                                                             • Repair irrigation system                                          - Seed drain lines ¾ rate perennial rye.
    13’ drain spacing: $22,400-28,000 per field
                                                                                                                                                                                                 - Seed field ½ rate Kentucky bluegrass/perennial rye mix.
    20’ drain spacing: $14,400-18,000 per field2                  13’ drain tile spacing and 2” sand layer: $38,400-44,000
                                                                  (after 2007 findings)                                      • Seed field at full rate Kenturcky bluegrass/perennial rye mix     -Topdress 4 times @ ¼”.
    Topdressing Material well-graded sand:                                                                                   • Let turfgrass establish 1 month

                                                                                                                             • Topdress 3 times @ ¼”
    1” sand layer: $ 8,000 per field                              20’ drain tile spacing and 2” sand layer: $30,400-34,000   • Reseed drain lines if needed
    2” sand layer: $16,000 per field                              (after 2008 findings)
    4” sand layer: $32,000 per field
    6” sand layer: $48,000 per field

4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5
     Sand Cap Build-Up
        In the Field
                                                                     FAQS                                                                                                RESOURCES
                                 FAQ # 1: I have a field that drains            actually a little easier to manipulate,
                                 poorly, what are the current reno-             simply by the nature of the method of         There are several excellent sources in the area to service your athletic field needs.
                                 vation options?                                application (topdressing rates can be in-     They are provided below. When you call these companies, they will direct you to a specific sales person in your
                                                                                creased or decreased), and therefore is       area. These resource contacts are of particular importance because they are familiar with the specifications and
                                 1) Synthetic Field – $600,000 - 1,000,000      even less of a concern. Preliminary           recommendations stated in this document and/or are in regular contact with Dr. John N. Rogers, III.
                                 2) Conventional Sand-Based Field –             findings also suggest that as little as ½
                                 $400,000 - 600,000                             inch of cumulative topdressing sand will      MSU Contacts
                                 3) Sand-Capped Field - $150,000 -              substantially decrease surface soil           Dr. John N. Rogers III                                           Alexander R. Kowalewski
May 2007. Cutting drain
lines, installing drain tiles,
                                 300,000                                        moisture, therefore improving surface         Michigan State University                                        Michigan State University
                                 4) Sand-Cap Build-Up Field $45,400 -           stability. However, greater sand depths       Crop and Soil Sciences                                           Crop and Soil Sciences
and backfilling lines with a                                                                                                  160A Plant and Soil Science Building                             162 Plant and Soil Science Building
sand-based root zone mate-       59,000 [price includes irrigation system       will not only improve drainage, but will
                                                                                                                              East Lansing, MI 48824                                           East Lansing, MI 48824
rial, Grand Blanc High           installation ($15,000), 13-20’ drain tile      also provide a deeper, none restrictive       (517)-355-0271x1136                                              (517)-355-0271x1137
School, Grand Blanc, Mich.,      spacing ($28,000-14,400, respectively),        rooting media.                                rogersj@msu.edu                                                  kowalew8@msu.edu
Water Management Inc.,           and 2” sand layer ($16,000)]
                                                                                FAQ #5: Has this been done to                 Renovation Services
                                 FAQ #2: Will this renovation process take      athletic fields in Michigan?                  Davey Tree: Sports Turf   Sports Turf Manage-       Turf Services, Inc        Country Club Turf        Contractors Landscape
                                 my field out of play?                                                                        Auburn Hills, MI          ment of Michigan LLC      17205 148th St.           4137 W. Michigan Ave.    3681 Frost Road
                                                                                                                              248-475-9155              281 Taft St.              Spring Lake, Mi           Jackson, MI 49202        Webberville, Mi 48892
                                                                                Yes, currently two high schools (Okemos
                                                                                                                                                        Zeeland, MI               616-842-4975              517-750-7513             517-775-8787
                                 No, your field is never totally out of play.   and Grand Blanc) began this process in                                  616-886-7395                                                                 eeeverett@core.com
                                 This process does not remove your ex-          2007, but this process has been going
                                 isting turf, but rather amends it. How-        on with native soil golf course putting       Turf Supplies etc.
                                 ever, it will require regular topdressing      greens for the last 30 years. For this        Rhino Seed and Turf             Turfgrass, Inc                   Verdicon, Inc
                                 for more than a year to produce a suffi-       reason, the feasibility is not a question.    Brighton, MI                    P.O. Box 667                     Dave Polen, Sales Rep
                                 cient system.                                  It makes sense and it has been done in        800-482-3130                    S. Lyon, MI 48178                586-839-8930
May 2007. Grand Blanc High                                                                                                                                    248-4371427
School athletic field after                                                     other areas of turf for many years. One                                       1-800-521-8873
the drain line installation      FAQ #3: Who can do this renova-                big plus is the specific sand based root
process, Grand Blanc,            tion process?                                  zone which will be topdressed on the          Turf Equipment Suppliers
Mich.,                           This is a job someone on staff can do,         fields. This specific sand has been pro-      Toro Equipment                  John Deere Equipment             Jacobsen Equipment
Water Management Inc.,           acting as the general contractor and           viding exceptional performance on             Spartan Distributors            Weingartz                        W. F. Miller
                                 sub-contract out the drain installation        Michigan fields for the last 10 years.        Auburn Hills, MI                39050 Grand River                25125 Trans X
                                 and irrigation repair. They can order the      The advantage of this process is that in      800-822-2216                    Farmington Hills                 Novi, MI
                                                                                                                                                              888-4-JD-TURF                    800-555-8189
                                 sand topdressing from a reliable source        the end you have transformed your
                                 (provided below).                              poorly drained native soil field to a sta-    Sand Topdressing Sources
                                  Finally, the act of applying the topdress-    ble, well-drained sand-capped field.          Osborn Industries               J.W. Surge Industries            Sunrise Aggregate ,LLC
                                 ing can be done by in-house staff (with        Since 2007, the Okemos school district        5850 Pardee                     Muskegon, MI                     2100 Swan Rd.
                                 minimal training) or contracted out.           has initiated this process on two more        Taylor, MI 48180                231-799-9123                     Dansville, MI
                                                                                fields due to the improved playing con-       313-292-4140                                                     517-623-1000
                                 FAQ #4: What about the drain spacing           ditions of their first field. A Michigan                                                                       John or Tim Warrel
                                 and depth of root zone specifications?         State University Intramural Recreational      Drainage Specialists
                                 Are we a guinea pig?                           field has also recently initiated this ren-
                                                                                                                              Water Management                Chattaway Excavating, Inc.
                                                                                ovations process, July 2008.                  1596 S. College Rd.             899 S. Onondaga Rd.
August 2007. Four sand-          The drain spacing of 6’ centers is about                                                     Mason, MI 48854                 Mason, MI 48854
based topdressing applica-
                                 extensive as possible and should be            FAQ #6: Will any type of sand                 517-628-8001                    517-628-2828
tions applied to a newly
established turfgrass stand
                                 more than adequate. A research project         work with the Build Up System?
over a one month period at       to investigate the optimum spacing was
                                                                                                                              Facility Managers
¼ inch per application,          started in 2007. Investigation is explor-      We know that the 90/10 sand used on
                                 ing wider spacing in an effort to provide      our sand cap fields works great. We are       Steve Lathrop                             Mr. James P. Adams II
 providing a 1 inch of sand-                                                                                                  Okemos School District                    Director of Operations
based root zone material,        potentially lower costs to installation,       currently evaluating several other sands      Okemos, MI                                Grand Blanc Schools
research plots at the            while maintaining adequate drainage.           to determine their performance in a           517-344-2783 ext. 2033                    810-591-6012
Hancock Turfgrass                Preliminary research has shown that            Build-Up System.
Research Center, East            when 1 and 2 inches of topdressing has
Lansing Mich.,                   been applied 13’ and 20’ drain spacing         The bottom line is; we know one root
                                 (respectively) will provide the same ben-      zone works and that a safe route. Until
                                 efits as 6’ spacing at a lower cost of in-     we have tested the other sands, using
 6                               stallation. The depth of root zone is          them poses a risk.                                                                                                                                                  7

				
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