How to Make Your Fall Lawn Look Just Like Wrigley Field

Tips and insight from the manager of one of the most famous baseball fields in the country.

By: Ryan Reed
Related To:

Everyone remembers their first time in the stands at a professional baseball game. 

Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field in Chicago is one of the most iconic ballparks in the country.

Photo by: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

For me, it was when I was 8 or 9 years old. The Chicago White Sox were visiting the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards. With my hot dog and drink in hand, I walked through the tunnel to our seats and saw the bright green field. My eyes lit up. It was like the scene in The Wizard of Oz when the movie goes from black-and-white to color.

Since then, I've always been kind of obsessed with having a major league-quality yard. The only problem? I never really had a yard to call my own. Since I recently moved into a new home complete with a yard, and with cooler weather approaching (hopefully soon), I thought it was time to get schooled on fall lawn care. So, who better to ask than someone who actually maintains a baseball field for a living? And not just any baseball field either.

More Fall Lawn Care Tips

See All Photos

Shop This Look

Justin Spillman is the manager for Wrigley Field Playing Surface. For those who may not follow baseball, Wrigley Field is arguably the most iconic ballpark in the country and home to the World Series champion Chicago Cubs.

As the Cubs marched towards their first championship in 108 years, the players weren't the only ones under pressure to perform. The field maintenance can actually give the home team an advantage by cutting the grass shorter and putting more moisture on the clay to slow down a fast team. "We're [the grounds crew] the 10th person on the field for the team," says Spillman, who feels the pressure in terms of sod coming up or a ball taking a bad hop off the field. "I just sit there and watch every play and in the back of my mind I'm thinking, 'that's all my responsibility.'"

Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field

The famous ivy in the outfield at Wrigley Field.

Photo by: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Spillman works with a crew of about nine to maintain every inch of the playing surface. The grass, which is a four-blend Oregon bluegrass grown in Wisconsin, keeps its green color throughout the long baseball season, thanks to constant fertilization.

"A good fertility program is the key to a green field," says Spillman, who starts in the spring and treats the field every 10 to 14 days throughout the season. "Most homeowners can't fertilize as often because they have clay-based soil and it doesn't percolate as well as Wrigley Field," he adds. The Cubs play on a 100 percent sand-based field (similar to the greens on professional golf courses) that has irrigation underneath that sprays the grass, ivy and warning track.

During the hot summer months, Spillman pumps the grounds with moisture to keep the roots alive, but as cooler weather approaches, Spillman weans off irrigation to avoid suffocating the grass with too much moisture, which can lead to yellow spots. 

But you don't have to host a professional baseball team to have a beautiful fall yard. Here are Spillman's top tips for homeowners looking to prep their lawns for autumn:

Aerate. This relieves the compaction from the soil.

De-Thatch. The thatch will hold moisture over the winter and can cause disease in the spring.

Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field

The grounds crew working on the playing surface at Wrigley Field.

Photo by: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Fill in Low Areas. Level them out with top soil and, then reseed them.

Fertilize. This keeps grass green and vibrant.

Apply Weed Control. Liquid weed killers can be helpful for returning pest plants, but don't apply in areas where you'll be reseeding. Some weed killers can keep new seeds from sprouting.

If your lawn has sections that are worn out from summer activities, there's a quick fix for that. Spillman uses a sand/seed mixture to regenerate areas that have been beat up by the players, but he recommends homeowners use a topsoil/seed mixture and spread by hand.

Lastly, if you really want that major-league-ballpark look, you have to have the striping effect, and it's pretty easy to do at home. The trick? Pull the grass away or towards the sunlight depending on the look you're going for. "I've seen people drag a tire or some kind of weighted pipe behind their mower," says Spillman. At Wrigley Field, it takes three to five days to wipe out a pattern and lay a new one down.

With these tips, your lawn will be ready for 'October' (and beyond).

Keep Reading

Next Up

9 Times We Fell For Fall

Goodbye Summer. I’ll miss you. You were the life of the party. And while I love you, I have to be honest…you and I are not exclusive. There’s another.

5 Alternative Harvest Hues to Use on Your Thanksgiving Table

Close out the season with these stunning, unexpected fall colors.

10 Delectable Recipes Every Caramel Addict Should Make

Sweet, salty, gooey or crunchy — we love caramel any way.

5 Easy + Tasty Ways Your Slow Cooker Can Earn Its Keep This Winter

It's so far from a unitasker. Here are 5 of our favorite slow cooker recipes.

6 Fall-Perfect Apple Recipes That Are (Mostly) Diet-Friendly

You can still enjoy all your favorite apple-filled eats this fall without worrying about your waistline. Here's a list of our 6 favorite recipes.

Fall Color Report: 10 Trending Fall Colors You Need to Try

Go fashion-forward in your home with these design ideas inspired by Pantone's fall color report.

Pumpkin to Table: 16 Ways to Eat Your Seeds

Celebrate pumpkin season with these delicious recipes.

5 Healthy Soups and Stews to Keep You Warm

Stay warm during chilly months (or all year long!) with these healthy and hearty soup and stew recipes.

5 Delicious and Healthy Meals You Can Make in Just One Pot

Dinner without a sink full of dishes? Sign us up, please!

Meet the Team

Get to know the talented writers and editors of HGTV's show and design blog. 

Go Behind the Blog

From the Archives

Take a look back at our past posts, from entertaining and design trends to up-and-coming HGTV shows.  

Read All Our Past Posts