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The Art of the Quick Fix
August 7, 2007  --  Issue 18
  
Better Fields for Better Play
Jim Reiner

I admit it.  Sometimes I use shortcuts...  a quick fix that works for a while. 

Occasionally I find myself in a situation where I need to do a 'patch job' to get by until I can do a better, more permanent fix.  Sometimes I can wait a couple years before I need to go back.

Here's a few problems I've run into that can be solved with a quick fix::

Not enough mound dirt. During spring maintenance, you might find that the mound seems to have lost some of its dirt during the rains.  I've had to scrape a couple wheelbarrows full of infield dirt from deep short or second or the coaches boxes to beef up the mound.  I realize it isn't exactly the same composition, but it works until I can get more mound clay.

Flat tire on my tractor.  Last spring I was all ready to start on a field when I found that one of the tires was flat.  I really needed that tractor to help haul materials and drag the field.  Fix a flat to the rescue.  Same stuff that is advertised to fix a flat on a car, although I've never used it like that.  Just make sure you use the small can for a small tractor tire.  I keep one in the trunk.

Massive mound holes and lots of loose dirt.  You probably know the best way to fix the mound is to alternate between moistening, adding dirt back in, tamping, then moistening, adding, tamping, and so on.  If conditions are right - very hot, sunny weather and you don't need to use the mound for at least a day, here's a way to firm up the holes.  Rake the loose dirt away from the holes and spread it out.  Soak the hole and the dirt you spread.  Let the water puddle in the hole.  Then push the wet dirt into the hole.  This will be muddy.  Smooth as best you can.  Soak it all again.  Soak till it puddles or runs off.  Let it bake for day in the hot sun.  It will be hard.  Just rough it up a bit and moisten before game time.

Another way to fix mound and batter box holes.  This works only on hot, sunny days.  I'm assuming you use the field in the late afternoon or early evening for practice or games.  This requires that your sprinklers go on at night and cover the mound or homeplate area.  I mean cover it with lots of water.  Just rake all the loose, powdery dirt into the holes and level it out.  During the night the sprinklers soak it.  The hot sun in the day bakes it.  It will be nice and firm by the time you need to use it.

Little weeds growing all over the infield skin.  Most of the time we try to get rid of these in the spring by dragging the field alot.  Spike drag or metal mesh drag.  And sometimes we spray weed killer.  But sometimes that doesn't work, or it isn't allowed.  A surprisingly easy way to totally get rid of the weeds if it isn't as thick as a lawn is to run the thatcher over it.  First lower the thatcher almost as low as it can go.  Lower than you'd ever run it on the turf.  Then run the thatcher on your infield skin, the basepaths, and the warning track for a quick fix.  No more weeds! None.  Not even any loose debris.

Well, there's just a few of the things I've done in a pinch.  Maybe you've got some short cuts you've used.  I'd be interested in hearing what you've done.

Yours for better play more often,

J. Reiner

Jim Reiner
Publisher, Editor, & Groundskeeper
The Ultimate Baseball Field Renovation Guide



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