If you drive by City Park Stadium in Gainesville, you'll probably do a double take.
According to Gainesville City Schools Athletic Fields and School Grounds Manager David Presnell, they're turf planing the field. Right now, it looks like they've taken up the TifSport Bermuda sod to install brand new grass – that's not the case.
"It's a process called turf planing," Presnell said. "It's very similar to milling asphalt or roadways"
Presnell and his crew finished planing the entire playing surface on Wednesday. In basic terms, turf planing removes any surface high spots, while leaving the underlying root system intact to regrow.
"What happens over time, between organic matter such as thatch and sand, it causes the field to raise up," Presnell said. "So, what we're doing is planing it almost an inch off the surface to lower that back down closer to the drainage system."
The current field was installed when the stadium was renovated in 2005. Presnell says there is a state-of-the-art drainage system underneath the field with a gravel and sand base. Not only will the process smooth the surface, but it will improve the overall drainage of the field
The same turf-planing process was used last year, according to Presnell.
"We did a test last year and had great success with it, so we went ahead and did again this year," he said. "The test last year was 3/4 of an inch and everything worked out really good. I did my research on the process and a lot of people are using and having great success with it. So we kind of saw it as a way to help us out some."
Presnell said they'll begin laying new sod on both sidelines and the middle of the field next week — spots he said they replace almost every year.
"We had planned on resodding some areas," he said. "You'll see some sod going on next week, then we'll evaluate the entire field after that. I think there could be a few other areas that we'll probably have to (lay new) sod."
Presnell said the field should start to show signs of new life over the next couple weeks.
"We'll start our cultural practices — aerifying, fertilizing and watering — at a slightly above average pace for the next eight weeks," he said. "Last year, probably after two weeks after we did it, we were already mowing and it was green. We were probably five or six weeks last year that we were fully covered. That's my hope, but we're dealing with a living plant, so I've got my fingers crossed."
The school replaced some handrails and sitting areas before graduation last week. As far as any other improvements at City Park, Presnell said the field is the priority.
"We have a few small things that we're going to do, but our main focus is the field right now."