The Marana Parks and Recreation Department has a very interactive Facebook page. Through the page they not only try to publicize their events and programs, but get feedback from those who participate in the program.
A few weeks back several parents of little leaguers who utilized the fields at Ora Mae Harn Park informed the staff that there were a large number of grass burrs in the baseball field grass and that they could not only be uncomfortable for the young athletes playing in them, but they were getting stuck to the uniforms, making it very difficult to get the uniforms clean.
Parks and Rec staff looked into the problem and found seeds down in the turf from kaki weed that have sharp points on them. This is how the plant propagates itself attaching to something walking through the area and being deposited elsewhere.
The Park Maintenance team was quick to respond and looked to figure out a solution to the problem. The maintenance team worked with the Town of Marana Fleet Division to refurbish equipment already in Town's inventory to help resolve the problem. They repaired the Rake-O-Vac and set out to see if it could fix the burr problem.
Not only did they reduce the number of burrs, but they found the machine was also helping to remove dead thatch from the turf. The thatch acts in a way that is similar to evaporative cooler pads and keeps the turf cooler. Once removed the Bermuda grass was able to thrive.
“The Rake-O-Vac is now onsite and being used to reduce the burrs, improve overall grass conditions, and enhance park user experience,” said Marana Parks and Recreation Maintenance Superintendent David Herman. "We like to think no seed, no weed."
With the success of the Rake-O-Vac, the plan is to now hit all of the other fields in the Town. With Little League season about to begin, those fields will get the first treatments, but soon the rest of the multi-purpose fields will also see the Rake-O-Vac make a visit.
The device uses large “fingers” to both sweep and vacuum, but can also be fitted with other attachments that can handle grass cutting, sweeping, and even leaf removal.