ASTM F3339 - 20

    Standard Guide for Construction or Renovation of Native-soil Athletic Fields

    Active Standard ASTM F3339 | Developed by Subcommittee: F08.64

    Book of Standards Volume: 15.07

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    Significance and Use

    4.1 A dense, uniform, smooth and vigorously growing natural turfgrass sports field provides the ideal and preferred playing surface for most outdoor field sports. Such a surface is pleasing to the spectators and athletes. A thick, consistent and smooth grass cover also increases playing quality and safety by providing stable footing for the athletes, cushioning their impact from falls, slides or tackles and cools the playing surface during hot weather.

    4.2 Sand is commonly used to construct high performance athletic field rootzone systems. Sand is chosen as the primary construction material for two basic properties; compaction resistance and improved drainage/aeration state. Although sand-based fields generally provide for a higher level of performance, the costs associated with constructing/developing a proper, high-performance sand-based field often precludes its use for many athletic field construction projects. In these instances soil-based fields constructed with either native or imported soils; either topsoil or subsoil material modified to mimic the properties of a natural topsoil (a manufactured topsoil). These soils are sometimes modified with amendments to improve their performance properties either at the time of original construction or during a subsequent renovation. Although not approaching the same performance properties of a proper sand-based field construction; the implementation of proper design, construction, and athletic field maintenance can produce soil-based athletic field rootzones with acceptable performance characteristics.

    4.3 Properties of both the soil and grass plants must be considered in planning, constructing, and maintaining a high quality athletic field installation. Turfgrass utilized must be adapted to the local growing conditions and be capable of forming a thick, dense, turf cover at the desired mowing height. Soil-based fields provide varying levels of soil stability but such conditions often deteriorate rapidly under high soil moisture conditions. Therefore it is imperative that grasses with superior wear tolerance and superior recuperative potential are utilized to withstand heavy foot traffic and intense shear forces. The rootzone depth for athletic field constructions should be a minimum depth of 8 in.

    4.4 Subgrade soils are typically site soils which are repurposed for this application. The use of stone, gravel, or coarse-sand for subgrade construction is typically not necessary and may be detrimental to the performance of the rootzone by the potential to impeded internal drainage and reduce air space from the creation of perched water effects. If an aggregate material is needed for stabilization purposes of a soft subgrade soil, the use of a fine stone dust should be considered.

    4.5 A successful soil-based rootzone system is dependent upon the proper selection of materials to use in the project. The proper selection of soil materials or any amendments, or both, subsurface drainage and surface drainage/grade are the primary components which are vital concerns to the performance of the system and this standard guide addresses these issues.

    4.5.1 During construction, consideration should be given to factors such as the physical and chemical properties of materials used in the area, freedom from stones and other debris, and surface and internal drainage (and subsurface drainage in areas subject to high water tables).

    4.5.2 Maintenance practices that influence the playability of the surface include mowing, irrigation, fertilization, and mechanical aeration and are factors addressed in other standards. See Guides F2060 and F2269.

    4.6 Those responsible for the design, construction, or maintenance, or a combination thereof, of natural turf athletic fields for multi-use and recreational purposes will benefit from this guide.

    4.7 A successful project development depends upon proper planning and upon the selection and cooperation among design and construction team members. An athletic field rootzone project design team should include a Project Designer, an Agronomist or Soil Scientist, or both, and an Owner’s Design Representative. Additions to the team during the construction phase should include an Owner’s Project Manager (often an expansion of role for the Owner’s Design Representative), an Owner’s Quality Control Agent (often the personnel that is employed in advance with the intent of becoming the finished project’s Sports Turf Manager), an Owner’s Testing Agent (often an expansion of roles for the Project’s Agronomist/Soil Scientist) and the Contractor.

    4.7.1 Planning for projects must be conducted well in advance of the intended construction date. Often this requires numerous meetings to create a calendar of events, schedule, approvals, assessments, performance criteria, material sourcing, agronomic test reports, soil surveys, geotechnical reports, and construction budgets.

    1. Scope

    1.1 This guide covers techniques that are appropriate for the construction of athletic field rootzones using native-soil. This guide is also applicable to soils which are not native to the site but are natural (non-sand) imported soils. This guide provides guidance for the selection of soil materials, amendments, and methods for use in constructing these types of athletic field rootzones. Soils having a texture of Sandy Loam or coarser should be utilized for soil-based rootzone construction. Soils which are finer textured than listed above may be employed for rootzone construction but should be sand-modified to meet the performance criteria of this standard. If fields are constructed with soils which are finer textured, they will not be capable of meeting the performance criteria in this standard. Despite performance limitations, fields which are constructed with finer textured soils (due to logistics or budget constraints) may still be able to conform to the slope/grade criteria (see 5.1, 5.4, and Table 1). Sand modified rootzone constructions are not addressed by this standard.

    1.2 Decisions in selecting construction and maintenance techniques are influenced by existing soil types, climatic factors, level of play, intensity and frequency of use, equipment available, budget and training, and the ability of management personnel.

    1.3 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard. The values in parentheses are for information only.

    1.4 This guide offers an organized collection of information or a series of options and does not recommend a specific course of action. This document cannot replace education or experience and should be used in conjunction with professional judgment. Not all aspects of this guide may be applicable in all circumstances. This ASTM standard is not intended to represent or replace the standard of care by which the adequacy of a given professional service must be judged, nor should this document be applied without consideration of a project’s many unique aspects. The word “Standard” in the title of this document means only that the document has been approved through the ASTM consensus process.

    1.5 This standard may involve hazardous materials, operations, and equipment. This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

    1.6 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    C25 Test Methods for Chemical Analysis of Limestone, Quicklime, and Hydrated Lime

    D698 Test Methods for Laboratory Compaction Characteristics of Soil Using Standard Effort (12,400 ft-lbf/ft3 (600 kN-m/m3))

    D1883 Test Method for California Bearing Ratio (CBR) of Laboratory-Compacted Soils

    D1997 Test Method for Laboratory Determination of the Fiber Content of Peat and Organic Soils by Dry Mass

    D2944 Practice of Sampling Processed Peat Materials

    D2974 Test Methods for Determining the Water (Moisture) Content, Ash Content, and Organic Material of Peat and Other Organic Soils

    D2976 Test Method for pH of Peat Materials

    D2980 Test Method for Saturated Density, Moisture-Holding Capacity, and Porosity of Saturated Peat Materials

    D4373 Test Method for Rapid Determination of Carbonate Content of Soils

    D4427 Classification of Peat Samples by Laboratory Testing

    D4972 Test Methods for pH of Soils

    D6528 Test Method for Consolidated Undrained Direct Simple Shear Testing of Fine Grain Soils

    F1632 Test Method for Particle Size Analysis and Sand Shape Grading of Golf Course Putting Green and Sports Field Rootzone Mixes

    F1647 Test Methods for Organic Matter Content of Athletic Field Rootzone Mixes

    F1815 Test Methods for Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity, Water Retention, Porosity, and Bulk Density of Athletic Field Rootzones

    F2060 Guide for Maintaining Cool Season Turfgrasses on Athletic Fields

    F2269 Guide for Maintaining Warm Season Turfgrasses on Athletic Fields

    Referencing This Standard
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    DOI: 10.1520/F3339-20

    Citation Format

    ASTM F3339-20, Standard Guide for Construction or Renovation of Native-soil Athletic Fields, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2020,

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