“The advantage of an engineered sand profile is that it does not get compacted. Plants need air and water to grow; as soon as the growing medium gets compacted, it’s very difficult for grass to grow. Also, with an engineered sand profile, the water will always drain if you get an inch or two of rain,” explained Steve Schiedel, Greenhorizons CEO. “Golf courses have been utilizing this technology for 30 years, but it’s only just starting to be used in sports fields.”
“The USGA has a very specific engineered sand profile that is to be used on golf greens.”
Unfortunately, when the BMO Field in Exhibition Place was redone, “It was sodded with traditional native sod that still had the native soil on it. That meant that the growing medium compacted, and the water wasn’t able to permeate through it,” said Steve.
This lead to large puddles in the field following any heavy rain.
“All of the benefits of the engineered sand profile weren’t being realized because of the inch of native soil on top of the engineered sand profile.”
In October 2012, Greenhorizones was asked to provide a solution to this impermeability problem.
“The grass needed to be custom-grown on the exact same engineered sand profile that was in the BMO Field,” said Steve.
With this solution, a little patience was necessary- it took almost two years for the sod to be grown, and then it was time for the transformation of the pitch to begin.
“We removed all of the native sod from the BMO Field, and after that, we laser-graded it to make sure that it would be as flat as a billiard table,” said Steve.
“We then top dressed the soil, evenly distributing it out over the whole field, like a powdered sugar dusting on a dessert, rather than dump a pile of it in the field and shove it around with a bulldozer.”
The field was laser-graded a second time to ensure that it was perfectly smooth and level before the sod was laid and fertilized with natural and organic fertilizer.
“The surface had to meet FIFA’s specifications and regulations, and the pitch had to perform to FIFA standards,” said Steve.
“When we laid the sod, it was very critical to make sure that it was perfectly lined up, that you wouldn’t be able to see any seams.”
After that, the soil was top dressed again and groomed.
“We made sure the profile of the sod was perfectly smooth, level and firm,” said Steve.
In the end, the BMO Field in Exhibition Place Toronto ended up becoming a showpiece for Greenhorizons Group.