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Arena Grass - Kill It or Embrace It??

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  • Arena Grass - Kill It or Embrace It??

    The outdoor arena at our new facility was unused for quite a few years. Last year we moved in late in the season and had it dragged pretty deeply, but the grass had already rooted and it was clumpy and really hard to break up. I think we need to kill the grass, but am very concerned about using chemicals since we are on a private lake with large amounts of waterfowl, the runoff into the horse pastures and also any residual chemicals on the horses feet. What can we use?

    The other option would be to use it as turf arena and perhaps seed with some very hardy grass...Any suggestions welcome!

    I think it is pretty much a sand arena, but it does have a base and doesn't hold water.
    KWPN Jumper Breeder
    SE WI Boarding, Training & Sales

  • #2
    I think the best way to kill it is to decide you want to keep it as grass and start riding on it frequently.
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


    • #3
      LOL, we had the same discussion while riding today.
      Our decision was to kill what grass there is before it gets going for the spring and turn it into a proper arena!
      (But I think that Poltroon's method would work too LOL)
      "Reason is, and ought to be, the slave of passions." David Hume


      • #4
        Personally, I prefer to mow grass over eating dust or watering!! Our rings have always been good turf grass. Though not a boarding/lesson farm, we did hold about three or four shows - hunter and jumper every month and our grass held up perfectly. If you choose to have dirt, just lightly disk it and go over it with a york rake. No chemicals needed. The grass will eventually get tired of fighting and leave!!
        Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


        • #5
          This is the bane of my life! In 2005 I spent a decent amount of $$ to put in my dream arena - perfect base and footing. Unfortunately I then got pregnant and due to many issues, my riding has been put to the side. I spend hours and hours trying to keep the damn weeds and grass out of that arena. It breaks my heart just looking at it some days. I am almost at the point of embracing it and letting it become a grass arena that I can mow. One thing I would say though, is make sure that it's totally level before you start letting it grow properly. Currently mine has the wave effect which, while it is still sand, I could probably fix, but once it's grass I would imagine it would be significantly harder to rectify.

          I am hating the idea of the grass really taking hold and breaking up the fantastic base that I have, but I think I am going to have to accept it.


          • #6
            Arena Grass

            We had the same issue when we put in our arena. We fought the grass using chemicals and even pulling by hand. Then we got one of those rotary drags (fluffers). It pulls the grass out by its roots and does a great job. The first time we used it, we had to pick up the clumps of grass. After that, we don't get enough regrowth to worry about.

            We still get some grass around the edges but it's manageable.


            • #7
              We have always kept grass in the center of our ring and kept the track properly drug and conditioned. I like the grass in the center - it's pretty and the few times I've turned horses out there, they thought it was great too. The only problem I've found with it is that the grass can be slippery with dew in the mornings.
              Susan N.

              Don't get confused between my personality & my attitude. My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are.


              • #8
                Kate, I had a similar situation, only it involved grad school.

                I paid my high-school age nephew to come and pull as many weeds as possible right after a heavy rain, so that the roots would come out with minimal disturbance. I round-upped the more tenacious weeds with bigger root systems and pulled them after they died.

                Then I just dragged the snot out of the ring. I have a homemade drag, so I had to stop and clean the clumps out of it frequently to keep from displacing too much of the footing, but it was relatively painless. It's been two years and as long as I keep it dragged (~ once a week, as I'm the only one riding on it) it stays vegetation-free.
                Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.


                • #9
                  With lots of riding and dragging, the grass should eventually "give up".


                  • #10
                    We don't use our exersize arena as often as we should , since we try to get out on the trails as much as possible. As a result, we've had grass and weeds take a bit of a hold of it. We decided last year to spray under the fenceline, the corners, and the last foot around the edge every couple of months, since our harrow can't seem to get there. Then use the harrow (tines down -- we harrow our fields tines up to avoid grass root damage) about once a month. it works well enough, and keeps the ring from looking neglected. We'll start using it again in the fall when the trails get too muddy.

                    Interested that use will keep the grass from taking root. I may have to start free lunging my retirees a bit more...
                    "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
                    <>< I.I.


                    • #11
                      The arena at my new farm had horrible grass when we moved in last year. Just dragging didn't work because the footing would get clumped up in the grass, creating big hums and divots.

                      So, the first thing we did was burn everything we could. Then used a box blade to scrape as much as we could. Then I put down more footing. And even more grass grew. I pulled some of it by hand (dreadful, dreadful task) and sprayed the rest with Round-up. I have a stream and pasture downslope of my arena, but by spraying when it was going to be dry seemed to alleviate any runoff problems. And I'm pleased to say it only took one application and the grass is gone. We'll see what happens this spring and summer, but so far, I haven't seen any little green sprigs in my arena.
                      Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.