Landscapers confuse weed killer with fertilizer, causing massive turf die-off on high school football field

Friday, September 18, 2015 by

A high school football team in Illinois is looking for a new place to play their remaining three football games after a landscaping company ruined the school’s field by confusing weed killer with fertilizer.

The turf on the St. Edward High School football field is now mostly dead grass, with the worst of the die-off occurring on the home team’s side.

“It was an honest mistake made in the mixing of chemicals for the field and they feel terrible about it,” said the school’s athletic director P.J. White. “Someone grabbed the wrong bottle when they were mixing chemicals.

“They’ve been putting top dressing on the field and have been doing what they can to try to get some type of growth,” he said.

Brown, dead grass engulfs the field; however, its ugly appearance isn’t the only concern, as warnings for humans to stay away normally accompany the spraying of chemicals, especially following large-scale use.

Go to to monitor breaking news on dangerous pesticides in your environment.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

White said that more than likely there was no harm caused to any football players by practicing one time and playing one game on the high.

White felt Mother Nature helped remove whatever chemicals might have been on the surface.

“It rained hard on days prior to anyone being on the field,” White said Wednesday. “The field also has its own watering system.”

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois EPA could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The damage happened prior to a Sept. 4 home game against Chicago Clark. That game was played without issues related to the conditions. The field hasn’t been used since.

“There were no complaints that game, but that the field was unpleasant to look at,” White said.

About two-thirds of the field from end zone to end zone is affected, most of it on the home team’s side of the field.


High schoolers search for new field to play remaining football games after theirs was destroyed

“We can deal with the ugliness of the field,” White said. “Safety is our main concern.”

St. Edward has three home games remaining after this week, including Sept. 25 with Guerin, Oct. 2 with Walther Christian and Oct. 23 with Elmwood Park. White said that St. Edward has a contingency plan and might rent Immaculate Conception’s home field for other games, if need be.

White said the landscaping firm the school uses is doing what it can to make the field playable. But, White added, the field’s condition probably would an ongoing issue this fall, with spring the best hope for it returning to form.

“If there’s any kind of blessing or anything like that, it’s that we have needed resurfacing of the playing field for a time,” White said. “After this season would be an ideal time to look at that.”

The school’s football coach, Mike Rolando, helped organize a GoFundMe page to raise money to fix the mistake. So far, the school has already raised more than $11,500.

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