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CF Montreal 'grass guy' has pro tips for the perfect lawn

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An unsung member of Montreal's MLS squad has some pro tips for those wanting a pristine level lawn for the summer.

CF Montreal sports field manager James Johnson works in the open air and is constantly worried about the weather.

"I'll be watching TV with my girlfriend and she's wondering what I'm doing on my phone," he said. "I'm not paying attention to a TV series and I'm looking at the weather."

The "groundskeeper", "grass guy", or man who goes by any other number of nicknames knows a lot about grass.

He's an agriculture graduate from McGill University and also studied sports turf management and Guelph University.

He worked at the Beaconsfield Golf Course for years before manning the mower at CF Montreal and said Montreal's early spring helped get grass green this year.

"We were able to get our covers off immediately to allow the turf to start breathing, which is really important for disease, and just developing a stronger grass in the long run throughout the spring," he said.

James Johnson is CF Montreal's groundskeeper and works to ensure the grass at Stade Saputo is pristine for every game.This fact means that the grass is ready for cleats to tear it up.

 

Johnson's recipe is to add ryegrass to the Kentucky-variety mix and overseeds the turf so nothing else creeps in.

When it's time for a trim, Johnson uses a hand-pushed mower rather than heavy machinery.

"They give a more precise cut, a cleaner cut, and they roll the surface at the same time," he said.

James Johnson is CF Montreal's groundskeeper and works to ensure the grass at Stade Saputo is pristine for every game.

During MLS games, Johnson watches the action and plans quick fixes as needed.

"We're watching to see where we got to focus on during halftime for preparing the field," he said. "During the warm-ups we're preparing the field, and after the game."

Johnson said that to get a nice lawn at home, "no-mow May" is not a bad idea to start with.

"It's actually one of the best things you can do is keep your cut of your height a little higher," he said. "At this time of year, let the roots drop. Let it be healthy. Don't scalp it down to the ground."

Johnson said keeping the lawn perfect at Stade Saputo is his dream job. He even thinks of grass on his days off.

And, yes, he cuts the grass at home.

"I love it," he said with a laugh. 

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