School ovals can take a real battering over the years, and are also likely to become heavily damaged with rapid speed under some circumstances when these grassed areas are subjected to heavy usage, while simultaneously not ever being given an opportunity for a break from this usage so as to repair naturally.
Once these school ovals become damaged from overuse - we really only have two options before us to repair any damage. The first option is to take no action at all - which in turn will only ensure the turf remains damaged or possibly increases its wear further. Our second option is to make the decision to repair our school ovals, which also means that the school staff responsible must make a real commitment to undertake this repair until completed.
The decision to repair a damaged school oval is not a light one to make. As we know, schools are always struggling with funds for so many projects which are required to run our schools - and this is where a commitment must be made to direct some of these available funds to repair and maintain their school ovals.
The overwhelming majority of school ovals are turfed with Kikuyu. This is because Kikuyu is a very fast growing grass, which can also quickly repair itself from the type or wear and tear damage which is so evident in school environments.
So for the purpose of this article - we will assume your school oval is Kikuyu.
Before proceeding any further, we must first discover what type of damage your own school oval is suffering from, and from this we can then devise an ongoing care and repair program for the turf.
Wide Spread Poor Lawn Health:
If the majority of the grass on the school oval is in ongoing poor lawn health, as well as the most used area of the oval being more greatly damaged - then the real underlying problem we are facing is poor lawn maintenance. A lawn in poor health will always sustain damage far more heavily than a healthy lawn.
If this is the case - then the school will need to make the appropriate decision and ongoing commitment to maintain their turf areas to a higher standard with proper lawn care practices being implemented with an ongoing annual schedule of good lawn care.
Nothing more can be done to help these lawns until a proper lawn care regimen is implemented - so for this article we will no longer concentrate on these school ovals in overall poor health, as they must first be brought back to health.
Damage From Overuse
Ongoing activities such as sports, which are always concentrated onto the same area of turf, every day of the school week - will most certainly cause a lot of lawn damage very quickly. And without any action being taken on behalf of the school to ease the wear and tear on any single area of turf, this damage will continue to be ongoing, and will never repair itself.
The remainder of this article will now concentrate on repairing areas of school ovals that have become damaged from overuse.
Our very first action to take to repair a damaged area of a school oval - is to stop any further damage occurring to this area. This means we must move all sports activities to another area of the oval, as well as to quarantine the damaged area so no further activities such as recess and lunch play can continue.
Kikuyu has a system of runners, as well as being a fast growing grass, which allows this turf to repair itself quite quickly. But this cannot happen while the new lawn shoots that are trying to repair the damage are constantly being damaged or killed from further activity, especially with sports such as running.
So there must be no more use of the damaged area until the turf is repaired.
If your school oval already has a year round lawn care regimen in place, then please check with your lawn care provider before applying any of the measures listed here. Overuse of water or fertiliser can cause significantly more damage.
Applying a good quality lawn fertiliser at manufacturers recommendations to the damaged area will help speed up the growth and repair of the damaged turf. It can be tempting to over-fertilise to try and speed up repair, but this is not recommended as over-fertilising any lawn can cause damage. Also ensure that any fertiliser is immediately watered into the soil after application, as leaving fertilisers on lawns for too long without water can also cause damage.
If the weather is warm to hot, then adding extra watering to the damaged area of turf will help speed up the repair process. Kikuyu loves water and when there's an abundance available - Kikuyu will grow quickly.
If the damaged area of the school oval is in such bad condition that there is only bare ground left - without even some parts of turf left still alive throughout the damaged area - then reseeding the Kikuyu may be a great idea.
We generally don't ever recommend planting common Kikuyu, but in this case, where we are simply repairing a damaged Kikuyu school oval - then there is no harm.
Kikuyu is readily available in seed packets and is good value.
Follow the suppliers recommendations for sowing the seed, and ensure the seed is kept very well watered every day until the new lawn is established and growing well.
There can be absolutely no human traffic on this area until the turf is fully recovered.
Repairing damaged areas of a school oval, as well as preventing damage ever occurring in the first place really is a simple process. This is because most school ovals are turfed with Kikuyu - which so easily repairs itself from damage.
The simple rule to prevent lawn damage occurring is to rotate the areas of the oval that are being used for heavy duty activities such as sports. Simply use a different area of the oval for sports from week to week. This allows any minor damage to very quickly repair itself in between activities - so that no significant heavy duty damage ever occurs.
For heavily damaged areas - simply stop using this area of the oval until the damage has repaired itself. Quarantining the area by roping it off is a great idea.
If necessary to otherwise speed up the lawn repair, we have the further options of fertilising, applying more water (only if the weather is hot), or to re-seed the Kikuyu in bare patches.
With the availability of Male Sterile Kikuyu in recent years, more and more school ovals are being turfed with this more environmentally friendly breed of Kikuyu. The most common brands being Village Green and Kenda Kikuyu.
If your school oval is fairly new, it would be highly advisable to check to see if the turf used on the oval was a Male Sterile Kikuyu. If this is the case - do not apply kikuyu seed to the turf - as this will contaminate the turf with inferior lawn stock - as well as removing the environmentally friendly nature of the existing Male Sterile Kikuyu.
Instead of applying seed to help in this type of repair, either new rolls of the same variety of Male Sterile Kikuyu will need to be bought and laid, or the damaged area will need more time to repair itself.
The above information can equally be applied to school ovals that are turfed with Couch.
If the school oval turf is more than say 25 years old - then it is highly likely that its turf is a common Couch - in this case a seed Couch will be fine to apply to help repair damage.
Also be aware that Blue Couch aka Queensland Blue is NOT a real Couch at all, and is an entirely different type of grass - so be sure never to mix these grasses up in identification or when re-seeding.
If the Couch school oval is newer than 25 years old - then it was most likely laid with a modern variety of Couch grass. If this is the case then we should try and find out the original variety of Couch used, and to buy new rolls of turf of the same variety if possible. These lawns should not be repaired from seed packets of Common Couch, as the performance and quality between the old and new grasses can be substantial.