The best dirt mix for your baseball field

Dirt Mix for your Baseball Field
 
Good footing and good bounces - that's what you want
 

 
Choices and Decisions

Before ordering baseball dirt, answer these questions:

What kind of dirt do you already have?
Is it any good?
Do you just need to add more?
Or do you need to make significant changes to the dirt mix?
Are you trying to correct any problems?

See the dirt analysis and correction sections for further information.

Ask the players some questions or note your own observation:

  1. Is the field dirt area firm enough or do you slip in it?
  2. Are the bounces about right or do they seem to die or bounce too high?
  3. Are there some 'bad bounce' areas that need attention?
  4. Is there a lip at the infield grass line that causes trouble when fielding grounders?

Before you tackle the job:

Can you get delivery?
Can you get equipment to spread, till, and roll it?
Do you have experience driving equipment? It's easy to learn, but experienced help does make it go faster.
Can the delivery trucks get access to your field?

Some sample dirt mixes and products:

warning track: a mix of decomposed granite and 1/8 inch crushed brick

topdressing: (high school size used 5-10 yards; little league use 3-5 yards)
1/3 sand, 1/3 compost, 1/3 top soil;
another standard mix is 70% topsoil and 30% compost;
topdressing sand - ask for G8 topdressing sand (golf course quality)

filling in holes around the fence areas or general fill needs: reclaimed sand from a cement plant. They wash out the cement trucks and often give away 10 tons of the stuff. It has small pebbles. Definitely not something for topdressing turf, but great stuff for filling in holes or getting rid of puddles outside the playing field.

infield skin: (high school size 10-20 or more yards; little league size 5-10 yards)
50% crushed red brick, 20% clay, 30% soil
professional mix: 60% clay, 40% tichert #2 sand

the mound: a high school size mound built from scratch needs 5 tons of material topped with infield mix; realize that only the top five inches really needs to be clay - the innards can be cheaper stuff. Use 100% clay or unfired clay bricks topped with infield mix

field conditioning products: see the Turface section

mound, batter's box, and catcher's box: use unfired clay bricks; dig out about 3 inches deep, place the bricks, tamp, and cover lightly with infield mix. high school size areas will take 200 bricks.

Note: I don't list decomposed granite for the mound or the playing field. This stuff is cheap, but is bad to play on: bad footing, bad for moisture management, does not hold up under competitive play, and players get skinned up sliding on it. What do you expect from grinding up rocks and putting it on the field?


Sources and Suppliers

Suppliers I've used and am satisfied with:
unfired clay bricks - Muddox
baseball mix (infield and warning track) - Cascade Rock, Central Home Supply
baseball mix (infield) - TNT Trucking: the choice of many pro teams
pure clay used in baseball mix - TNT Trucking
topdressing mix - Cascade Rock, Central Home Supply
topdressing quality sand - Granite Construction
reclaimed sand - Livingston Concrete

Other suppliers recommended by pro teams:

clay - Hasty's Sand and Gravel
warning track 1/8 in. crushed lava brick - C&L Trucking



Tips & Hints
  1. Choose a dirt mix that does not stain white uniforms too much. Some of the more red mixes are horrible on uniforms and almost impossible to get clean. More than one pro team has changed its mix just so they can get their uniforms clean!

  2. Never mix dirt types! Put sand on the infield turf, clay on the mound, clay/sand mixture on the infield dirt.

  3. If you have dirt pits, keep the clay, sand, and crushed brick separated.



Mistakes to avoid

  1. Just because the park district or the supplier calls it 'baseball mix' doesn't mean it really is. Some of the bogus mixes will either blow away or players will get skinned up sliding on it.

 

gray fines dirt
gray fines: too loose (and ugly)

crushed red brick mix
crushed red brick:
too loose

analysis of dirt
analysis tells you what
you have now

after improving dirt mix
after adding clay, tilling, rolling, and
topping off with
Turface

10 ton pile of sand
10 ton pile of
topdressing sand


moving tons for dirt
moving tons of
dirt requires equipment


12 tons of clay
12 tons of clay add to
the crushed red brick

pro management of dirt products
the pros have their dirt
products well arranged

3 yard size piles
a couple of 3 yard
piles of dirt to mix in


before and after
before and after in
days or weeks


Now available: the complete set of baseball field maintenance guides

baseball field maintenance guides


Baseball Field Products
   Advice  |  Dirt Mix  |  Fertilizer  |  Sand  |  Seed  |  Sod  |  Top Dressing  |  Turface  

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