How to Remove Lips

Tools for removing “loose lips”...

Lips you can easily manage are called “loose lips” because there is not a severe buildup and the soil has loosely accumulated. If your field has large lip buildup that is easily detected visually, it’s likely these lips are severe enough to require some degree of renovation.

For manageable “loose lips” it’s best to catch them while the displaced material is still laying fresh in the turf — before rain or irrigation has glued them in place. There are many ways to remove these loose lips and several hand tools can do the trick, including a leaf rake, medium-bristled push broom, backpack blower, or a power broom.

Watch the brief video on the slide for an overview of these tools…

Tools for removing “loose lips”...

Using a fall leaf rake to remove lips...

Standing on the infield skin, pull the rake toward you at about a 30-45 degree angle through the edge of the turf and out onto the infield skin. You want to pull all the loose material out of the grass edge and onto the infield. Don’t worry about grass fragments and clippings, it’s expected that you’ll pull some grass out along with the extra material.

But be careful not to dig into the infield skin too much. Creating a dropoff or valley at the turf’s edge can negatively affect surface draining. Use a field rake to rake up debris from the turf edge, then pull some material back over the edge of the infield skin to maintain an even surface grade.

The video on the next slide demonstrates the crosscutting use of a leaf broom…

Removing lips with a fall leaf rake...

Using a push broom to remove lips...

Standing on the turfgrass side, sweep the loose material out of the grass edges onto the infield skin using a medium-bristled push broom.

Again, be careful that you don’t sweep too much material away from the edge creating a valley. After you have the material removed from the grass edge, rake up debris from the turf edge and then pull some infield soil or topdressing back to the edge of the turfgrasss to keep a consistent surface grade.

Watch the video on the next slide to see how this is done with a push broom…

Removing lips with a push broom...

Using a backpack blower to remove lips...

Again, standing on the turfgrass side, blow loose material from the turf edge onto the infield skin. Use the throttle of the blower and the blower nozzle to control how hard and in which direction the air is blowing.

Controlling the air is especially important along the baselines because material can be blown from one turf edge straight across the baseline to the other.

Watch the video on the next slide to see the backpack blower in action.

Removing lips with a backpack blower...

Using a power broom to remove lips...

The last option for taking care of loose lips is the power broom. Standing on the turfgrass, use the power broom like you would a regular hand broom to push material out of the turf edge onto the infield skin.

Once again, you’ll need to be careful about sweeping out a valley where the infield skin meets the turfgrass. If that happens, it’s okay, just be sure to re-groom the edge by bringing material back into that valley. Use a field rake to collect up debris left on the skin and remove the spoils with a sifter shovel.

Watch the video on the next slide to see the power broom in action.

Removing lips with a power broom...

What should you use for more established lips?...

When sweeping, brushing or blowing, is not enough, you need a more aggressive effort. Typically these lips are not much larger than a loose lip, but the material is glued into the turf by rain or irrigation, making them difficult to remove.

There are a few options you can consider for dealing with medium-sized established lips.

  • Using a sharpened iron rake
  • Using a Dethatcher or Vericutter Unit
  • Hydrowashing the lip area

The sharpened iron rake...

One of the quickest and easiest ways to remove an established glued-in lip without getting into gas-powered tools is to use a sharpened iron rake. Which type of iron rake you use can make a big difference with how easy this job is.

The key is to use a “T” head iron rake (not a “bow” shaped rake) with tines curved slightly inward, not straight. The bow adds spring to the head of the rake and tends to make it bounce along the surface, which will give you uneven results.

Watch the video on the next slide for more about T vs Bow rakes…

‘T’ vs ‘bow’ iron rakes...

How to sharpen your iron rake...

For best results you will need to sharpen your iron rake using a grinding wheel. Grind the lower 1/3 outer portion of each tool. (Click the drawing to see the area to grind.)

Be careful not to overheat the steel during grinding, it could compromise the temper of the steel. Keep the tooth moving up and down continuously while you’re grinding. The goal is to grind the tooth down so the cutting edge is skimming the infield and grass surface.

Watch the video on the next slide regarding this sharpening technique.

Sharpening your iron rake...

Combing out established lips...

With your iron rake in hand, stand on the infield skin facing the turf edge. Place the rake at a 45 degree angle to the turf’s edge and begin to pull through the turf. If your rake is adequately sharp this will not require much down pressure.

The duller the teeth on your rake, the more down pressure you will need. After you have cut through the lip in one direction, come back in the opposite direction to crosscut a 45 degree angle — perpendicular to the first pass.

Watch the video on the next slide to see this method in action…

Combing out established lips...

Removing the spoils and finishing grading...

Compared with the other methods for removing loose lips, there will be a lot more debris that comes onto the infield skin after you have removed an established lip with a sharpened iron rake. This is expected, and it just means you’ll need to come back through with a field grooming rake to clean things up.

While you’re removing displaced grass and debris from your infield, you’ll want to use a sweeping motion that returns some topdressing material toward the edge of the grass. Of course, you don’t want to bring soil back to the turf, but you can return topdressing toward the edge to maintain a consistent grade between infield and turfgrass. After removing the spoils, use the feel method along the edge to double-check your work.

Watch the video on the next slide to see how you can remove spoils and bring material back toward the turf edge…

Removing spoils and finish grading...

Using a dethatcher or verticut unit...

Another method for removing small to medium lips uses either a dethatching machine or a verticut unit.

In both cases the blades move on the vertical plane allowing them to dig up the soil. Running one of these units along the turf edge with the blades cutting down into the lip just below surface grade will help loosen the lip.

Come back with a broom, fan rake, blower, or power broom to push all the debris onto the infield skin where it can be more easily removed. Make sure you again perform the “feel test” to make sure the lip has been removed.

Watch the video on the next slide for more about using these machines…

Using a dethatcher or verticut unit...

Hydrowash those lips away...

Blasting medium lips with water is most effective after a long soaking rain or extended irrigation cycle when the soil has been softened deeply.

Hook up a hose with a nozzle that will produce a tight, single stream at a reasonable pressure (50-60 psi). Then, standing on the turfgrass facing the infield skin, squat down and aim the stream at the lip from a low angle.

Flush the lip out of the turf edge onto the infield skin using as little water as possible, yet with enough pressure to blast the lip away. Keep the water stream moving side to side so it doesn’t create a crater under the turfgrass.

Watch the video on the next slide demonstrating the hydrowash technique.

Blasting lips with the hydrowash method...

Be careful of exposing crowns...

One downside to hydrowashing can be exposing the crown at the base of the plant — the turf grass — when blasting a lip away.

If you perform a hydrowash on cool season grasses, like Bluegrass or Ryegrass, it should only be done on cloudy, cooler days. You don’t want to expose the tender crowns of the plant to the sunshine in the heat of the summer. They could go under stress for a while and cause turf brownout.

During the cooler parts of the year a hydrowash can be performed at any time. Weather timing is not as critical if you are performing this on warm season grasses, such as Bermudagrass or Zoysiagrass.

Watch the video on the next slide for more about exposed crowns.

More about exposing crowns..

What about a large lip?...

Eliminating severe established lips cannot be attacked by a daily maintenance team. They typically require major field renovation. Consult with a Beacon Athletics representative for help with major renovations.

You now know what’s necessary to remove loose or medium established lips. There was a lot of info covered here, so use the navigation dots above to skip around for a refresher and, when you’re ready, log in take the Pop Quiz to make sure it’s time to continue to the next section.