Feature Article - February 2008
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Solid Ground

Ensuring Turf Is Tough Enough

By Sue Marquette Poremba

Equipment needs

Parks and recreation departments need equipment that can perform a wide variety of tasks, including mowing, towing, transporting crew/supplies, lifting and loading pallets, trail maintenance, snow removal and digging (planting trees and gardens or installing fencing and water lines), said Kristen Gill, a spokesperson for a grounds equipment manufacturer. "The nice thing about compact equipment, like a skid-steer loader or utility work machine, is that you can do all those things with only one piece of equipment. The versatility of compact equipment allows you to maximize your equipment investment," she said. "You can save money and shop space by not having to buy several machines dedicated to only one task, like a dedicated mower, snowblower, pallet fork, etc. Attachments can be easily switched out by one person in minutes. And for the tasks that you only need to do a few times a year, like grinding stumps or trenching water lines, you can rent the attachment from a local dealer."

Along with a utility machine, a utility vehicle is a vital piece of equipment. "They can haul tools, fertilizers and sporting goods in the box. [Some] utility vehicles come standard with hydraulic dump cargo box, to save time and labor unloading materials such as rock, sand, dirt or mulch," said Gill. "I know of a parks and rec department that uses our utility vehicle to water hanging plants on the light poles in the downtown district. It is perfect for maneuvering on narrow sidewalks and parked cars."

Loaders are also a common component of any parks and rec fleet because of their versatility. They have the ability to lift up to 3,200 pounds as high as 6.5 feet, depending on the model. There are attachments available for loaders to complete just about any task required—from planers to repair curbs and streets to tree spades for planting trees to chippers for grinding branches and tree limbs. They are compact enough to get in tight spaces that larger equipment cannot but still powerful enough to complete tough jobs with ease.

One utility vehicle is all most park and rec departments need to handle their field maintenance chores, said Gill. "Utility vehicles can be used just about anywhere."

In addition, if the field is natural grass, a mower will be needed.

No matter what type of playing surface, if it is well maintained, it should endure years of pleasure.