School Properties-Harnessing the Power of Your Irrigation System

School properties are community assets and the community is demanding more and more from your fields. As practice and playing fields see more and more use, you are discovering that they need more attention in order to maintain them at a level that is acceptable to the your parent groups, athletic department, sports coaches and school administrators. The public has demanded that you maintain high quality recreational spaces for baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse and football, as well as open and programmed space for general use. They are also expecting fields to look their best and be available for scheduled activities almost around the clock.Soccer Girl

Because of this demand, more and more school districts have installed irrigation systems to keep the landscapes and fields usable and healthy for as long as possible. Fertilizing these spaces is at record levels in order to keep up the appearance and to support the additional stress that we now place upon these spaces. Recovery time is now becoming a major concern because of all this high stress use.

As interested members of the school community we all need to be concerned with how our field spaces are managed. We want 24 by 7 availability but are frustrated that routine maintenance requires that we keep children off the fields or don’t use certain areas while maintenance and fertilizing is in process. We know that the more demands we place on the fields, the more we have to come to grips with recovery times so that we don’t have to restrict use. Increasingly we’re hearing from people concerned with environmental exposure and who want to restrict fertilizing and water usage due to concerns over water availability and fertilizer runoff. Parents are now, more aware than ever, concerned about the risk of exposure to fertilizer granules and concentrated chemicals used to keep the school grounds in good condition.

What if we could reduce fertilizer runoff and water usage while at the same time ensuring that we have usable recreation facilities and performance and practice fields that reflect our community’s desire for these kind of quality spaces? What if we could also reduce the maintenance cost and labor effort at the same time compared to what we do now? Are there realistic solutions that can accomplish these goals?

YES, THERE ARE.

But it will require us all to change some long standing practices that are heavily ingrained in the way we look at maintaining school grounds.

We, as a community, should look for ways that help solve environmental issues while at the same time enhancing the usefulness, functionality and beauty of our school properties.