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Ask Cam

The grass is always greener...UPDATE

March 16, 2011

CSU grounds crews have removed some of the turf growth blankets (mentioned below), and you can really see the difference. Check out the results on the Intramural Field north of the Academic Village - it's a magic trick of green, growing turf!

Question (from December 2010):

Cam, I've recently noticed two huge, rectangular plastic tarps laid down on the lawn west of Lory Student Center and near Arthur Ditch. What gives? Is Facilities putting you on a diet or what?

That's prime grazing land – when the lacrosse team isn't practicing, anyway! Any idea what they're for?

Cam’s answer:

Aah, if only I could graze on that fabulous new turf near the ditch! (or south of Moby 'B' wing, as shown in the photo).

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

“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.

“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.

Tim says 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.

“The success of club sports teams at CSU is something the campus community can truly be proud of,” Tim adds. “Providing them and the student body at large with the best possible quality intramural sports fields is the goal of the sports turf staff.”

Good to know – otherwise, I might have mistaken the blankets for alien spacecraft landing beacons!

Yours until the grass is greener,

Cam the Ram

About 'Ask Cam'

Ask Cam started in the summer of 1997 and ran like a wild animal until 2004. Cam answered more than 1,500 queries, and had such a kick that he's back and ready for more questions from the university community.