Jason in St. Louis is getting his baseball field ready for the spring
season. He gets some advice about the adding sod, dirt, and
getting through the freeze/thaw cycle..
Baseball starts tomorrow. But my field is BONE dry in the
morning and hard as a rock. Then by mid afternoon it is wet
and sloppy. I'm going to try to drag it between too hard and
too muddy. Please advise.
What you describe is the freeze/frost thaw cycle.
This often rectifies
itself after one complete cycle.
If not, here are some tips my colleagues suggest:
If you can, run a 1.5
to 3 ton roller across the dirt when it is hard. This apparently
speeds up the cycle quite fast for some.
Another fellow says the
solution to the problem starts in the fall. The baseball fields
receive fertilizers in the late fall to help build the root system
and promote early spring green up. They are mowed up until they
stop growing in November and December. (This doesn't help you now
Soil conditioners mixed
into your infield mix (such as Turface or the Hilltopper infield
mix) also help prevent rainouts and freezeouts.
Pro teams sometimes
put out large blocks of styrofoam across the infield to prevent
it from freezing. These are 1-2 feet thick and covered with tarps.
No freezing. That's why they can play in March up north.
And we agree
dragging or spike dragging will loosen up the dirt to help get
the water out through evaporation. Keep at it.
Thanks. Great advice.
I was able to
hit the middle of the freeze/frost thaw cycle today and that seemed
to help it out a bit.
you think fields should get new dirt each year? We are
a high school team.
Yes, most every baseball field benefits from adding
some new baseball dirt each year - either in the fall or in
If you haven't added
dirt for several years I would start with at least a dump truck
load of 10 yards. If your infield dirt is an inch lower than the
turf - even with no lips - then you could use 2 truck loads.
Dirt gets washed away,
blown away, and dragged away through the playing season.
new dirt was usually needed. Thank you Jim...
field is all dirt. Would you suggest for a dirt substance that is
able to absorb water better? I understand that some substances
with more sand, may be able to absorb the water better.
There are always trade-offs.
More sand or something
like crushed brick does help with better drainage, but it also does
not provide quality firm footing and true bounces like a harder
On the other hand the
harder fields with better footing and true bounces don't always
drain as well.
is to almost always add a calcined clay soil amendment or soil conditioner
Pro. This additive helps with moisture management which is the
key to a good playing surface.
If you have an all dirt
infield, then you would want to start with 2-4 tons of conditioner
along with a couple dump trucks of baseball dirt. Spread it and
work it into the top inch or two with a nail drag or spike drag.
That would work.
We are getting some sod donated to our baseball field.
The man and his company will be putting the sod down on the field
Monday. He needs me to give him the dimensions of the grass and
I am not sure what they are.
Would you happen
to know how much sod we would need and what the dimensions
was thinking of making the baselines sod instead of having
them be dirt because I thought it may make things easier to maintain,
but what do you think about the grass getting torn up and all??
Some tips and hints about successfully adding sod to your baseball
sod on your baseball field
I stress the importance
of the preparation work. The underlying soil preparation is key
Sod takes 3-5 weeks to
root before you can play on it. Just so you know.
Dimensions? I'm guessing
you mean how many square feet you need.
A high school field would
have approximately 7,000 square feet of turf for the infield. Add
another 700 to cover yourself for trimming, corners, etc.
link with pictures about how to figure square footage on
a field: How
to figure square footage on a baseball field
sod baselines -
This is not unusual for middle schools. Easier to take care of since
you just mow the whole thing. And you may not have to worry about
rain outs quite a much.
At the high school level,
running on turf as a base runner is not good footing as on dirt.
So, this depends on how competitive your play is.
And on an all grass field,
the dirt cutouts for the bases tend to become deep holes with big
lip buildup if you don't stay on top of this. You'll have to groom
the dirt often or it will become indented, fill up with water, and
be a mess... and not so safe to play on. Other than that, go for
it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
- do you have sprinkler irrigation or do you depend on summer rains?
Sod will need water. Have a great sod project next week!
Thank you so much for all of this...
I can't tell
you how much this means to us. I am in a rush...We are leaving for
Florida in a few minutes for our "spring training."
Thanks Jim so
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Yours for better
play more often,
Publisher, Editor, & Groundskeeper
Baseball Field Renovation Guide