Turfgrass Soils

Click below to be redirected to more information about turfgrass soils:

Soil Testing
Turfgrass Rootzones

Soil Compaction

Soil Testing
The basis for sound nutrient management and water quality protection programs in turf management revolves around soil testing.  A "Basic Soil Test" will typically provide infomation on soil pH and the levels of the macronutrients phosphorus (P), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), and calcium (Ca). 

Contact your county or state extension specialist to identify the appropriate testing methods and optimum laboratories in your region. 

For more information regarding soil fertility, please visit the Fertility page in the Knowledge Center.

Soil Testing Resources:
Utilizing Soil Tests in Nutrient Management for Sports Fields
Soil Testing for Turf Areas - University of Nebraska
Simplifying Soil Test Interpretations for Turf Professionals - University of Nebraska
Soil test interpretations and fertilizer management for lawns, turf, gardens, and landscape plants - University of Minnesota
Soil Sampling for Meaningful Results - University of Massachusetts

Turfgrass Rootzones
There are three basic types of athletic field rootzones:

Natural soil - soil that exists at the site or topsoil that is transported to the site
Modified soil - existing soil at the site is mixed uniformly with a coarse physical amendment (such as sand)
Soilless medium - a rootzone that is composed entirely of sand

Rootzone composition affects overall field performance, including turfgrass growth, nutrient retention, and water infiltration and percolation.  Knowing the makeup of your rootzone can assist in reducing compaction, planning a fertility program, and determining proper irrigation practices.

Determine Your Soil's Texture Using the Feel Method


Understanding Soils - Cornell University
Turfgrass Rootzones - Texas A&M University
Liming Turfgrass Areas  - Penn State University
Using Composts to Improve Turf Performance  -
Penn State University
Using Spent Mushroom Substrate (Mushroom Soil) As A Soil Amendment to Improve Turf  - Penn State University
Athletic Fields - Specification outline, construction, and maintenance - Penn State University
Soils, Plant Nutrition and Nutrient Management - University of Missouri
Rootzone Construction

Water Availability
Water Tables

Soils Presentations featured at STMA Conferences

Soil Compaction
Soil compaction is the compression of topsoil, primarily due to foot or vehicular traffic.  Excessive compaction can prevent the passage of air, water, and nutrients into the soil.  Turfgrasses growing on compacted soils generally have shallow root systems and poor density, exhibit stress symptoms more readily, and have reduced recuperative potential.

Compaction management includes various cultivation practices, which are outlined under Aeration/Topdressing of the Knowledge Center.

Football Practice Techniques that Help Minimize Field Wear
Strategies for Managing Heavily-Used Fields
Preventing Compaction on Athletic Fields - Iowa State University
Compaction and Cultivation - University of Massachusetts
Management of Compaction: Coring - University of Massachusetts
Sports Turf Traffic - How Much is Too Much? - University of Kentucky
Turfgrass Traffic and Compaction: Problems and Solutions - University of California
Compaction Presentations Featured at STMA Conferences


Drainage is one of the most important issues when managing a sports field. Your field will not perform well if you do not have surface or internal drainage in place. Surface and subsurface drainage problems, such as standing water and high water tables, can pose a safety hazard to athletes and other users. These problems can also cause cancellation or postponement of events due to field closure. It is important to understand what types of drainage will work best for your field to enhance user safety and reduce field closures.

Best Management Practices to Reduce Stormwater Runoff and Pollution at your Sports Facility
Flooding on Sports Fields
Drainage - A Crucial Component for Athletic Field Performance
     Part One: Surface Drainage
     Part Two: Internal Drainage
     Part Three: Subsurface Installed Drainage Systems
Drainage Solutions

University of Minnesota - Agricultural Drainage: Soil Water Concepts
Penn State University - Understanding Field Drainage
Michigan State University - Improving Native Soil Athletic Field Drainage  
Drainage Presentations Featured at STMA Conferences

International Resources