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March 2018

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–continued from page 19 the new sod even arrives. A fleet of 17 semi trucks hauls 3,000 pounds of it to Pasadena from the Bowl’s sod farm in Palm Springs, where sunshine and heat quickly mature grass. The cost averages about $250,000 a pop. Schnell regularly visits the desert facility to see how the grass is growing. Over the years, he experimented with grass cultivars until he settled on a mixture of bluegrass and rye grass. “It’s an aggressive turf,” he says. Through the years, the two have learned various subtle tricks of the trade. “We talk about smoke and mirrors, how to divert people’s attention when there is a problem out there we can’t address in time,” says Schnell. Maybe there’s an unsightly sod seam, so a unique mowing pattern may redirect people’s eyes. “Sometimes you’ll have to do that and people will never know the difference,” he says. One innovative way the team controls costs and time is by employing erasable paint on team logos on the field, a practice Yepez spearheaded many years ago. “We used so much paint we’d kill the grass,” he explains. In their time on the turf, the duo has weathered many storms, tight turnaround schedules and everyday emergencies. Their devotion to the Rose Bowl field and what it represents is fierce and heartfelt. “People ask me to come and look at their yard and I say, ‘If it doesn’t have a goal post or bases, I don’t do it,’” says Schnell with a twinkle in his eye. “This right here is mine. I get to farm some of the most visible turf in the world. I’m so grateful every day. This is a big enough yard for me.” Likewise, Yepez describes an almost mystical connection between gardener and plant. “I’m a sports fanatic and so being around a stadium is exciting,” says Yepez. “All these people are here to see these players, but they are also here to see my field. I love that I’m part of the game itself.” |||| TURF TALK When it comes to landscaping during extreme droughts, California homeowners are certainly doing their share by installing water-wise gardens filled with local natives and drought-tolerant plants, but the lure of a lush green lawn can still be enticing. Families with small children and/or animals certainly know that the look, feel and smell of grass are appealing, even if it means mowing, weeding, fertilizing — and careful watering. Tending the perfect SoCal lawn in dry conditions can be tricky — but it can be done. Schnell and Yepez offer their suggestions on how to coax the monoculture plant to achieve peak performance. • Find out what kind of soil you have. “Do soil tests to figure out what you are starting with,” says Schnell. “Then you can amend or correct problems. We take soil tests constantly so we know exactly how the turf is doing.” • Watch the water. “Overwatering lawns is such a big problem,” says Schnell. “You want to just fill up the profile enough to give the roots something to reach for. You’ll have a much healthier plant if you don’t drown it.” • Pick the right grass. “Bermuda works best in Southern California, especially with the drought,” says Schnell. “It’s a warm-season plant that has tremendous roots and depth and it can survive during high seasons of droughts. It’s also salt tolerant. When it doesn’t rain, plants accumulate salt. Bermuda may go brown for a while, but don’t worry. It will be fine. It’s tough.” • Be prepared for problems. “If you see a wear area, the most important thing to do is to stay out of that area,” says Schnell, adding that this doesn’t mean shutting down the whole yard, but blocking off that problem area. Put a fence around it. Redirect foot traffic around it. The lawn is just like you, explains Schnell. “If you get beat up, you need to take some time off and rest up. Once a plant gets so down, it takes a while for them to get back.” • Make sure you really want the lawn. “You’ve got to love it,” says Yepez. “Creating a lawn is “time-consuming and you need dedication for proper fertilization, watering and making sure your system is correct. You’ve got to treat that lawn like it’s your baby. You have to care about it. If you don’t, it’s just not going to work.” — B.R PHOTOS: Courtesy of Rose Bowl Stadium 20 | ARROYO | 03.18

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