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Ask Cam

The grass is always greener

March 20, 2012

Question:

Cam, I've recently noticed huge, rectangular plastic tarps laid down on the intramural lawn south of the Rec. What gives? Is Facilities keepng you from gnawing on your favorite cuisine or what?

Cam’s answer:

Aah, if only I could graze on that fabulous new turf!

But even your favorite mascot isn’t allowed to consume whatever he wants. That’s OK, though. After talking with CSU’s sports turf manager, I’m more than willing to dine elsewhere. Here’s what I found out.

The ‘plastic tarps’ on the intramural fields are in fact turf growth blankets. The purpose is to extend the growing season in isolated, high-use areas to 12 months a year by creating a greenhouse effect that maintains higher soil temperature and that avoids the natural period of winter dormancy. (By the way, I was scampering around out there lately, and noticed most of the blankets have been removed.)

The combination of climate and heavy use during the spring and fall seasons on college campuses like ours makes maintaining quality sports fields difficult, to say the least.

Fred Haberecht, our venerable landscape architect, agrees about the climate here: it can be tough dealing with sometimes severe Colorado winters of wildly changing temperatures, lots of dry, lots of wet, or any combination thereof.

The growth blankets offer a very cost-effective way to recuperate fields when there’s no organized team use from late November through early March. When the blankets are removed prior to the start of the spring season, the turf is thicker and actively growing. Without the blankets, it’d be mid-May before the fields would be in a similar condition.

Yours while the grass greens up,

Cam the Ram