Performance First: NorthBridge® Bermudagrass Upgrades Providence Day School Athletics

In October 2023, Providence Day School in Charlotte, NC upgraded its athletic fields with 3.5 acres of NorthBridge® Bermudagrass, facilitated by Sod Solutions Professionals. This renovation aimed to enhance the school’s multipurpose fields for softball, baseball and football practice, meeting the diverse sporting needs of its students.

Robbie Miller, the Director of Landscaping and Athletic Grounds at Providence Day School, shared that the project’s objective was to improve the infield’s grade and smooth out the outfield for both baseball and softball which accommodates football activities as well. The field has an auxiliary fence for separating sports activities by season, allowing a seamless transition from spring sports to a football layout in the summer. This versatility is crucial for the school’s expansive summer camp program, which hosts a variety of sports, including soccer, lacrosse, football and more.

Grass Selection: A Strategic Decision

When it came to picking a grass that would withstand the sports needs for Providence Day School, Miller began evaluating which variety would suit their needs. Previously, the school had what he called a “hodge-podge” of Tifway 419, common bermuda and SunSpot bermuda seed on the fields for the past 30 years.

Miller shared his decision was influenced by NorthBridge’s superior cold tolerance and rapid recovery rate, attributes that promise minimal surface disruption, especially under heavy football use. Also, the quick transition capability from ryegrass to bermuda is pivotal for the school’s tight summer to fall sports schedule.

NorthBridge® Bermudagrass Installation

Mid-October, Axle Logistics hauled big rolls of NorthBridge from Green Acres Turf Farm in Furman, SC to Providence Day School. “The sod that we got was some of the best sod that I think I’ve ever purchased. It was beautiful, tight bermuda and it went out perfectly for laying so late in the year. It was cut very evenly and most of the rolls were very uniform,” Miller said.

He explained he was nervous putting bermuda out so late in the year, but over the past few years they’ve noticed a trend of warmer temperatures later into the fall in Charlotte, so it felt like a reasonable risk to take. “We had perfect weather for renovating the field. It didn’t rain until the last week of the project when we had most of the sod down and we had pretty much all the new clay put in. I think we had some bullpen and mound work that needed to be done but we were very fortunate. We got the rain when we needed it.”

Big rolls of NorthBridge® Bermudagrass being installed at Providence Day School in Oct. 2023.

Kenny Carrick of Eastern Turf Maintenance, who led the sod installation for this project, agreed with Miller that they couldn’t have had more ideal weather for the project. Carrick also complimented Axel Logistics’ drivers for navigating their trucks for seamless sod delivery on the days they needed it.

With extensive experience in sports field projects, this marked Carrick’s first installation of NorthBridge Bermudagrass, which impressed him. “I’m always down for trying something new and Robbie did his research. I was just the installer but the performance, from everything I’ve read, is that the recovery time (of NorthBridge) is quicker than 419.”

Carrick also admired the quality of the tensile strength of the NorthBridge, giving them the ability to pull on it as they laid it. He said some of the reason for its durability was due to the depth of the sod cut just under ½ inch. “It held together as good as anything we laid last year. And last year was a tough year on sod, but I would put it up there in my top two or three varieties of sod.”

He explained it’s sometimes hard to judge quality if a producer has to send a sod out early for a project before rhizomes are established, but said the NorthBridge that arrived at Providence Day School was perfect with minimal breakage or piecing together areas as they installed.

Miller said they haven’t had the grass through a growing season yet, but in the fall its color retention and root establishment were extremely notable. “We’ve taken some soil samples out here and found some roots that have gone about three inches deep so far. We had a mild winter that was really wet, but we’ve been very impressed at how well it’s continued to respond through cooler weather that 419 or a common (bermuda) would’ve shut down at.”

He was complimentary of the vendors and project orchestration by Sod Solutions Professionals. Miller noted Axel Logistics respectfully navigated through the campus main thoroughfare and carpool traffic to offload the sod without issues and he praised Eastern Turf Maintenance for their efficient installation and ability to jungle varying elevation on the field, including a four-foot drop over 324 feet from home plate to the fence at right field. “We had a really great experience and I would definitely recommend NorthBridge and Sod Solutions Professionals to anyone who would ask about it,” Miller added.

If you want to revamp your field or lawn with NorthBridge, click here for more information.

This article was written by Cecilia Johnson.

NorthBridge® Bermudagrass was installed at Providence Day School in Oct. 2023.

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