Weekly Blog of baseball field maintenance activities

Baseball Field Log
of Weekly Maintenance Activities

What should you be doing with your field now?
Here is the year 2007 as I took care of 7 different baseball fields from t-ball to high school. 

Take advantage of the lessons and issues that came up.



Dec 29 - Have you claimed your FREE copy of Seven Field Maintenance Secrets?   If not, then you need to do that right now, right here. 

I put this together to energize your efforts.  If you're like me, time at the field is therapeutic and rewarding.  So, make the most of it.

Claim your FREE Special Report: Seven Field Maintenance Secrets to Transforming your Baseball or Softball Field into a Winning Field.


Dec 27 - It's been quite a year of baseball playing and baseball maintenance activities.  Why do we do this anyway? Most players are either too young or too busy to realize what we do to even appreciate it. 

But, I still do it for them.  It's the drive to be the best on and off the field.  To provide the best service possible to you who will in turn serve the youth of your area.  May God Bless your efforts.  May they be lasting and effective.  It's been a great year. 

I'll start out 2008 by spreading, tilling, leveling, and rolling the dirt I had delivered back on Dec 4.  Fun, fun!  Really.  It is!

best regards,
J im



Dec 21 - This was a shocker.  Normally I wouldn't think of planting grass seed in December, but we've had a bit of a drought and the temperatures were still in the upper 50s most of the day.  So, around Dec 8th I put out seed on a 150 sq ft dirt area between 2B and the mound.  I covered it with a soil/compost mixture.  Then it lightly rained for three days followed by 5 days of 55 degree temperatures.  Today we have grass seedlings sprouting everywhere!  This is great. But a real surprise. Sometimes you just have to try.  You might be surprised what works.  I was.

Dec 4 - What a week I had!  We're in a near drought with temperatures still in the upper sixties.  I had 12 tons of topsoil and compost delivered and spread most of it along the landscaping of the school.  First I mowed it short, then overseeded, fertilized, and spread the topsoil.  The rainy season will produce a great landscape by February.

Then I had 25 yards of baseball dirt delivered for a high school field.  The infield skin was between 1 and 2 inches lower than the infield turf and outfield turf.  No lips, just a real difference in levels of dirt. This field hadn't had dirt added since 2003. It just seems to blow away over time.

The outfield grass got one last shot of cool season fertilizer: 21-4-7.

The little league field I overseeded and fertilized three weeks ago is looking very good for December. 



November 21 - Time to do some initial planning for the spring.  The high school booster club and the local little league officials meet in early December to plan.  My contribution to the planning?  Of couse, it's the pre-season audit checklist to help identify what is needed keep the baseball field safe and playable.


November 19 - Three days before Thanksgiving. It's 62 degrees in the day and 32 at night.  Here in California, this is also known as the last day of the year you can successfully overseed your turf.  If you haven't finished your turf maintenance process by now, then wait till February or March. 

Things I did this week as maintenance time winds down for the year:
  1. spot seed thin areas of turf - especially where football took its toll
  2. mow the infield turf to keep it from getting too long
  3. spray weeds that popped up since the last rains
  4. lightly fertilize with cool season 21-4-7 fertilizer


November 12 - First mowing after overseeding three weeks agoI had to use a rotary push mower since the ground too soggy to support a riding mower... don't want any ruts out there!  Then I lightly fertilized with cool season fertilizer.  Even though this is close to winter time, this field is looking mighty good.  So, now I just keep the weeds down during the rainy season here.  I spray with roundup.


November 5 - The weather is warm - days are 78 degrees and nights are upper 40s.  I'm still overseeding a few fields with perrenial rye and have started putting out cool season fertilizer on others. 

About my lawn failure reported last week: we had a sudden cloudburst and the next day there were little green seedlings sprouting all over the lawn.  Success after all.  I should have believed that following the process works.  Hey, even I get anxious at times.  Oh, well....


October 28 - The weather has been so nice and things are going so well with fall turf maintenance, that I am taking orders for more fertilizer and seed.  Even for lawns in the neighborhood.  What's good for the goose is good for the gander, huh?  Why not have a home lawn that is as nice looking as a premium baseball field?  Mine is.  Just follow most of the same turf maintenance steps.

P.S. I had one overseed failure on a home lawn.  The owner used roundup to kill the existing mess.  Then we mowed it as short as the mower would go.  We overseeded and fertilized.  Then we watered every day.  Normally within a week you see the rye/bluegrass sprout.  A week later - nothing.  Another couple days - barely anything.  I think it is a watering problem, but not seeing it day in and day out, I don't know.  We'll overseed again and I'll watch the watering.  We haven't had rain for 16 days and don't expect any for 10 more. 



October 27 - Time to get rid of the dead weeds I killed with roundup several weeks ago.  I used a thatcher and lowed the cutting blades about as low as they would go.  Too low for use on turf.  I used it to run over the dead, dry weeds in the dirt areas - basepaths, infield skin, and warning track.  It can take as many as 10 passes, but the weeds are either totally gone or completely uprooted.  I raked through the areas to clean up any remaining loose ones.  The infield skin is looking great.  Never used a thatcher?  Check here.

And I blasted the slight lip build up with a hose on the little league fields.  The weather has been dry and will continue to be dry for at least a week.  So, soaked the edges and then blasted out the infield dirt from about 8 inches in. I left puddles, but in a couple hours it will be absorbed.



October 20 - This week I went around the various fields I take care of an did some spot seeding and checked over the lip buildup.  I'll be blasting away some of the lip with a hose next week.


October 13 - I'm beginning to strengthen the turf for the spring.  Yesterday I core aerated the infield and outfield.  Today I am putting out sports turf (80% rye and 20% bluegrass) and starter fertilizer (6-20-20).  The temperature has been around 75 and is predicted to be near 80 for the next two to three weeks.  This is perfect weather for growing cool season grass.  Spring baseball will be great!


October 6 - This week I sharpened the blade on my lawn mower.  This is easy to do and I had no pressing work to be done at this time.  But, I am gearing up for some serious thatching and overseeding in a couple weeks.  I bought my grass seed and fertilizer and am all set to go.


September 24 - I'm preparing for spring as well as improving the fall baseball experience.  My work activities now include:
  1. Spray weeds and grasses on high school infield skin and outfield warning track - makes spring maintenance a lot easier!
  2. edge infield turf on the little league fields
  3. use high pressure hose to reduce lip buildup on turf edges on the little league fields
  4. rebuild little league mounds - many are too loose from brick dust mix and they need a lot more clay; I'm using bags of powdered mortar mix
  5. core areate infield on another field, mow it short, overseed with a rye/bluegrass mix and put out 6-20-60 starter fertilizer - this is going to be a really nice field in the spring.


September 13 - Time is running out!  Need motivation to get fall baseball field maintenance in gear?  Then check out this month's baseball field ezine right here.  I'm hard at work on four different fields right now.  How about you?


September 3 - Time to get serious about fall maintenance for a super spring!

This is one of the best times to add baseball dirt to your field:
  1. the ground is still hard enough for a dump truck to get to the infield skin without leaving ruts in the turf
  2. the added baseball dirt can settle in during the fall and winter
  3. If you are adding dirt in the warmer climates where winter is rain instead of freezing snow, then you need to roll the dirt so the rains don't wash it away.

And this is also one of the best times to strengthen your infield turf for the spring.  Of course you can do this in the spring too, but the cold, wet ground makes this harder and take longer.  For a crash course on turf maintenance with details if needed, click on the link above.


August 23 - Best Maintenance tasks now:

  1. Spray unwanted weeds and vegetation with roundup: basepaths, warning track, bullpens.  Kill this stuff now for less problem in the spring.
  2. Fertilize the turf with 16-8-8.
  3. Spray trimic plus on your infield to kill broadleaf weeds - do this between mowings.
  4. Plan to aerate and overseed with perrenial rye in October.  Fertilize again 6 weeks later and again in late February or early March.
  5. Adjust the timings for this for your climate.  These are recommendations for central California which could be quite different for you.


August 8 - Back after healing up from a very sore foot.  Anyway, we are getting ready for 'winter' ball to start right after Labor Day.  A peek at the fields last week tells me that it's time for some serious edging and dragging again.  The mound and homeplate on every field needs to be rebuilt.  Actually, its a good time to use the Baseball Field Maintenance Preseason Audit and Checklist to get the fields ready to go.


July 15 - Yikes! I sure hope you're teaching someone else how to take care of your fields... parents, players, coaches... anyone.  What if you can't do it?  Who will?  I broke a toe on my left foot so I'm out of action for a while.  Good thing I'm not the only one who knows what to do and cares enough to do it.



July 14 - Summer maintenance: adjust sprinklers where it is drying up, fertilize your turf, fix broken sprinklers as needed, edge the infield turf.  Many fields are now open until fall ball starts.  It's a chance to get some things done that normally would interrupt play.  Better to do it in the heat than in the winter when it's cold and muddy.



July 8 - All Star Tournament time!  Here's what players age 11-16 said about the fields they played on (park and rec, little league, and a college field)

good: no lips, short grass for good bounces, hits in the gap go to the wall, the mound is sloped right and has a good landing
bad: dusty and loose infield skin, bad hops at the grass edge, the mound is like a big bump in the field and pitchers loose their footing and balance

I wouldn't say any game's outcome was determined by the field, but the various fields did add some challenges to the games.  The fields need more WATER!

It always come back to basics.  Whether it's the field or it's the players.  Speaking of the basics, snag this free baseball basics report here.

P.S.   Does this baseball field log help you?  Let me know.


June 30 - I blew it.  I admit it.  I chopped off the top of two sprinklers with a sod cutter by accident.  Yikes!

I should have followed my own advice to mark your sprinklers before edging or aearating.

I was using a sod cutter to get rid of a speed-bump-like lip around the perimeter of the infield skin.  But I didn't find the exact location of the outfield sprinklers.  I measured 95 feet from the pitcher's rubber, but went just a few feet more to get rid of the lip. 

Well, I hit two sprinkers.  It wasn't evident until every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday the second base area was mud.  So, I went to the park at 6:15am when the sprinklers went off to mark the exact location. Then I told the park and rec folks about my accident and they were kind enough to replace the tops.


June 23 - How would you like a chance to spend an afternoon with the Turf Manager of the Year?  I did just that and bring you a record of this conversation right here!  Check this out and learn how the pros maintain their grass, dirt, and facility. 

You will learn something from this.  Guaranteed. A conversation with the Turf Manager of the Year.

 


June 16 - Better Fields for Better Play.  Most of this site concentrates on making your field the best it can be for competitive play. 

But, how about we shift gears and look at what it takes to be a championship pitcher.  You might not be able to take advantage of this, but you should at least go here and snag the FREE Pitching Report.  You'll be glad you did.

 


June 4 - Now senior league is in full swing.  These 15 and 16 year olds will tell you they want two things in a field: get rid of the lips and please, please drag it smooth before practice and games.  The high speed balls hitting lumpy bumpy ground is just asking for an injury.  They don't want that. They want to make the play.  Check here for tips and hints for maintaining your infield dirt.

 


May 18 - I'm getting a lot of questions about infield dirt problems.  Many of you have infield dirt that is too loose, spongy, or is not level.  And quite a few fields are overused, poorly watered, and have lip build up.  What do you do? 

The solutions vary.  Some of you need to add 30 tons of clay to the infield skin, mix it in, level it, roll it flat, water it down, and you'll get firmer footing.  Others need to soak the infield grass, aerate it, and edge it to solve your problem.  And a few of you just need better equipment and tools to care for your field.  These are very doable and not really expensive.  It just takes your time and effort to make it happen.

I encourage you to do it! Be a hero! 
Still wonder how to get started?  Check here



May 2 - Well, the season has been underway here for over two months.  It's actually time to start preparing for the May Memorial Day tournaments and the June Tournament of Champions. 

Even with some great field preparations back in January and February, it's time to aerate, edge, fertilize, and even add more baseball dirt.  And we have a few places where a lip is forming... probably from dragging the loose brick dust over the grass edge.  I'll start by using a hose to blast the dirt out.  If that doesn't help I may have to take the sod cutter to it.

Check out the archive of baseball field articles here.


April 24 - Have you claimed your FREE copy of Seven Field Maintenance Secrets?   If not, then you need to do that right now, right here. 

I put this together to energize your efforts.  If you're like me, time at the field is therapeutic and rewarding.  So, make the most of it.

Claim your FREE Special Report: Seven Field Maintenance Secrets to Transforming your Baseball or Softball Field into a Winning Field.


April 16 - Fantastic!  The first time this has happened.  All four of my sons were playing baseball games at the same time!  College, high school, little league, and T-ball.  Wow.  The nice thing about being involved in sports is that it keeps you active, moving, and in touch with others.  I love it!

Baseball field maintenance lesson for today: don't spray roundup on a windy day.  A fellow, well-meaning I'm sure, sprayed roundup all around the senior field grass line to get rid of the weeds popping up in the base paths.  But it was a bit windy. Now the grass edge is jagged with dead patches.  It will grow back, but not before the end of the season.



April 8 - FEAR.  That's all I can think it was.  I offered to help out a league across town.  They have two little league fields in desperate need of help.  Everybody knows it.  I laid out a simple turf and dirt upgrade plan - offered to do it for free.  But, alas, the league president turned down the offer.  Twice.  I figure it must be fear of doing something.  Man-O-Man!  Don't let fear paralyze you.  Take action.  The kids are counting on you!



April 1 - Let's talk money for minute. No fooling.  Without at least a little bit of money or donated equipment and materials, it's near impossible to make a real difference with your baseball field maintenance.  So, today I encourage you to skim through the section of this site about how to fund your baseball projects.  I'm sure you'll be glad you did.  And so will your players - they're the ones we do all this for after all. 

P.S.   Does this baseball field log help you?  Let me know.


March 26 - The senior little league field in the park complex could use some attention now.  The turf is growing strong, thick, and healthy.  So now we turn our attention to the dirt areas.  This field hasn't had any extra baseball dirt for many years.  It just seems to blow away and disappear.  As a result, the dirt area is lower than the grass and there is a slight build up at the grass edges that is about a foot wide.  Not a real lip type bump, but a gentle rise and fall.  Here is the infield dirt maintenance proposal I put together for the league reps.  There are variations we can go with depending on budget, time, and the number of helpers.



March 19 - What a difference it makes where you live.  In the Sacramento, CA area where I am, we've been working on our baseball fields since mid to late January.  Opening day was March 17. The playing fields were fantastic.  Then a couple days later I was in Colorado Springs, CO. They are just breaking out of winter.  Most grass is still dormant.  They are probably just now starting to do the things we did in late January or early February.  What a difference in timing.  But, the process is the same.  Start with the pre season checklist to put your plans in place and then get going on the turf maintenance checklist.

March 12 - The magic of the sod cutter It was cleanup day at the park.  Lots of people doing lots of things.  But the magic was the sod cutter.  With this tool I edged three baseball fields and removed lips and lumps faster than anyone believed possible.  I used my all time favorite - the Kiss Cutter from Turfco.  It's a light weight, four wheel model.  If you want to cut straight lines, then this is the machine to do the job.  The three wheel versions are very hard to cut straight especially if you are not on perfectly level ground.  But with the 4 wheel model it's a straight cut whether going over lumps and bumps or flat ground.



March 5 - After a week of rain off and on, we had a nice weekend.  It was a work day at the PONY baseball field.  The high school JV plays here too.  It's an all dirt infield with lots of weeds on the edges of the field.  We used a spike drag and wire mesh drag to get most of them out and smooth out the field.  The boys used hoes and shovels to get the weeds right at the edge of the back stop and fence.  This field has bases at 70', 80', and 90'.  The pegs were all covered over and we had to dig to find them.  Of course second base was in the wrong place. Off by almost a foot.  But we eventually found it. Are we going to move it?  I don't think so.  At least not right now.  We rebuilt the mound. Or should I say 'mounds?'  There are three mounds in a row each getting successively higher as they get farther way.  This is how one field works here for all these age groups.  We build a 3' x 5' table at the top of the highest one to give the pitcher the proper area to stand.  And we leveled out the pitcher rubbers and lined them up with home plate.  We also dug up the batter boxes, added clay and a rubber mat about 3 inches under the dirt.  This will keep the batter box from getting a big hole from the batters.

Feb 26 - I did some spot seeding for the high school baseball field and tried out the reel mower I'd been working on.  It cut better, but alas, about half way through mowing the infield the clutch mechanism started slipping so much that it only ran at half speed.  It works, but this is too slow to be mowing 8,000 square feet.  It takes almost 45 minutes.  The first game was played on the high school field.  The field looks great.  But I noticed when I previously mowed with the reel mower that the infield turf area is a little bit lumpy and bumpy.  It showed with a couple bad hop grounders. We'll see how the grass grows out, but we might need to roll the infield with a steam roller to flatten it out.  I'll give this a couple weeks and see.  This one good reason for you to keep a baseball field log.  Keep track of what is happening and what you've done.


Feb 19 - I used cool season fertilizer on the little league baseball infields and on the grass at the dirt edges along the foul area and the outfield sections near the infield dirt.  It will rain this week and this will perk up this grass wonderfully.  We even fertilized the T-ball area that sits way off to the side of the other four baseball fields.  This little area is often neglected so I decided to make this my pet project for the spring.  Make this area as nice as possible so the parents and the little guys and girls have a good experience.

Feb 12 - This was sad to see.  Last fall a well meaning groundskeeper worked on adding seed to a little league field that was just plain worn out.  Last summer and fall most of the grass behind homeplate and in foul ground between home and the dugouts was worn down to dirt.  So, late fall (November here) is a good time to overseed and get it going for the spring.  He put out compost and threw seed on top.  And then he let it set for the rains to water and settle it.  The seeds started to sprout in early February.  Then we had a day of very heavy rain. The rain came down so hard it ran off the field in a stream and washed out most of the grass seed behind homeplate and the third base dugout.  It's washed back down to the bare dirt.  Maybe this would have helped save it.  Back in November, if we had aerated the field, then put out the topdressing and seed and followed it by dragging with a mat drag, I don't think it would have lost so much of the seed.  It would have taken root farther down and would have been packed a bit more.  But you never know with a monsoon.  It can wreck a field pretty fast.


Feb 5 - Work day at the high school.  I used a sod cutter to edge all around.  First I marked the sprinklers, then I measured and used white marking spray paint to mark the lines to cut.  Then I just followed the lines and cut.   Players raked up the sod scrapes and hauled them away.  This was impressive.  We edged the field to spec in one morning.  The players were amazed at how fast this went. We used a couple thatchers to scratch all the small weeds off the dirt areas.  This worked quite well.  A team also fixed up the tool shed, put in new dugout benches, and painted most of the wood areas around the field.  Looks quite nice.  The infield turf is a bit thin still on the baseball field, but it is growing in.



Jan 26 - The first work day of 2007 at the high school. This is the beginning of this baseball field log for this year.  We aerated the infield turf and put out seed and fertilizer. It was cold and and been raining several days before so it was a short morning of work.  During the fall and winter a lot of grass grew out on the infield dirt and the base paths.  It's almost like solid turf 4-10 feet past where the real edge is supposed to be. We can fix this a lot easier than most people expect.  Next week they'll see what I mean when I use a sod cutter on it.