BASEBALL DIRT ANALYSIS: Getting a better dirt mix!
ADDING FINE OR COURSE SAND: Does it matter?
SOURCE FOR DIRT MIX: How do I find a local supplier?
IN THIS ISSUE:
dragging a baseball field... what is this?
to level your field? Here are five ways to fix it.
Reducing bad infield lips and cutting grass back
Does your sports field have these problems?
On Improving My Baseball Field Dirt Mix
sending in a picture of my infield dirt in the jar test.
Can you help me understand how much is clay and sand? Looks
like about 50/50. My field is hard as a rock most of the time.
So, I want to add sand. And should I add a field conditioner
like Turface to improve the mix and keep the field soft, or should
I keep things moist and spike drag it? Thanks for our help.
My boys appreciate you coaching the coach on field prep.
John in Amity Oregon.
John, thanks for the picture. That helps a lot.
The top layer is consistent
with the way clay looks in this kind of test.
I would say
you are close to 60% clay/silt and 40% sand right now. (MLB teams
are close to that, but they have several people fulltime and a
huge budget to care for the field). You need to get to a ratio
that is closer to 70% sand and 30% clay/silt.
A typical varsity field
has about 12,000 square feet of infield dirt. You need to add
two dump trucks of sand. Something on the order of 25-30 yards
of sand. Spread and till into the top 4 inches to get a better
I would recommend
adding the calcined clay soil conditioner also. Some refer to
this as topdressing. Although in Oregon you probably get a lot
of rain, so it might help with moisture management in the spring.
When/If you add the topdressing, spike drag or nail drag it into
the top 1-2 inches. After that, it is just a matter of regular
dragging and watering during the season.
You are on
your way to a much better playing field. Have fun with this. And
you are right. Many coaches - baseball and softball - have this
same problem and benefit from learning how others fix it.
Adding Sand to my Baseball Field Dirt Mix: Fine or Course? Does
question: Is Concrete sand okay to add to the infield, or should
I get Mason's sand? We had two truckloads of sand mixed in last
year, which got us to the 60/40 ratio we have. Concrete sand is
a number 4 minus, and half the cost of Mason's sand. Thanks again
for your help. John.
Go with the more course sand.
If sand is too fine,
it will actually bond with the clay and get hard as a brick. I confirmed
this with some golf course folks I know. We usually topdress our
infields with G8 grade topdressing sand (golf course quality for
sanding your infield turf). However, this is really too fine for
the infield skin.
you should use the concrete sand as long as it is not full of small
pebbles. If you have more questions as you go, I am more than happy
to get you specific answers.
Need a Local Source for Good Baseball Mix
am in the process of repairing a field that has been neglected for
about three years. I need a source near San Antonio, Texas that
supplies a brick clay mix . Thanks, Brent.
1. You can always
start by looking online for suppliers such as www.beamclay.com.
They provide baseball mix, clay, sand, etc. to many major and minor
league fields across the US.
2. Other sources
you might have locally:
major or minor league teams: find out where they get their mix
3. Rock yards
and trucking companies: these usually have access to baseball dirt
since they supply this to high schools and little leagues in your
4. Local park
and rec departments – find out where they get their infield
mix – however, realize they usually go for cheap decomposed
granite stuff that you definitely don’t want on your field
5. Any local
high school that has a decent baseball program – again find
out where they get their mix for their baseball field.
You will have
to let your fingers to the walking a little bit via phone calls
to get these leads and find out what they have.
for those of you in the Ohio area who need good baseball mix or
even help with the job, contact Troy at Fraziers
Field Repair. Highly
recommended for baseball field dirt improvements. By the way:
I don't benefit if you use them.
Best Way to Drag Your Infield is Spiral Dragging
do you mean by Spiral dragging??
Dennis, New York
Maybe the best
way to explain this is to compare what is usually done.
drag the infield skin back and forth going from the first base foul
line past second base to the third base foul line and then turn
around and head back to the first base side. This back and forth
dragging tends to create high spots at the foul lines and low spots
at second and short stop. And if the drag is always removed at the
same spot, behind third base for example, you get a high spot there
What I call
spiral dragging greatly reduces the likelihood of high spots or
low spots. However, this is best done by pulling a metal mesh drag
behind a small tractor or riding mower. What I described above can
be done by hand pulling the drag back and forth.
means dragging in circles, but let the circles slowly move across
the field from one foul line to another. Sort of like the old spirograph
art set I had as a kid. Start on one side and move across as you
make overlapping circles. This is great for leveling out the field.
It takes a little more time though than the back and forth dragging.
You could probably
do the quick back and forth dragging most of the time, but then
do the spiral dragging once a week to really get it leveled back
try not to let the drag go over the grass edges. This prevents lip
Ways To Level Your Lumpy, Bumpy Baseball Field
We have an existing field that needs to have holes filled and general
leveling. If we till or seed or add dirt, how long would it be before
we could play on it? (similar question submitted by dozens of people).
All, here are 5 ways to fix problems like this that have worked
1. Big holes or ruts in the outfield: fill them
in with reclaimed sand and cover with topsoil. I get tons of free
reclaimed sand from a local cement plant. They wash out the cement
trucks when they come back and 'reclaim' the small sand and aggregate.
This stuff is not fine sand. It has some very small pebbles. They
give it away. But, this is perfect for filling in big areas in the
outfield or the warning track.
2. Uneven infield turf: best thing to do is several
of topdressing. Depending on your size of your baseball field
- little league or high school size you have more work. I put out
five tons of top soil / compost on a high school infield and dragged
it with a metal mesh drag to level it out. (Mowed it short first.)
I did this in April and again in August. It is perfectly smooth
3. Infield turf with major ruts and undulations:
on a senior little league baseball field I spread out 10 tons of
top soil / compost and dragged it level. This field had big problems
so I went with lots of dirt. I do not recommend doing that much
at once unless you have a major, major problem to fix. Now the nice
thing about this is that you can water it in and play on it in a
day. I did this in October.
4. Infield skin (dirt) not level: One of the easiest
ways to fix this is to add about 3-5 tons on a little league baseball
field or 10-20 tons on a high school baseball field and spread,
till with a tractor and rear tiller, then level with a box or leveler
device, and drag. Water it in to help settle it. Drag or rake to
fine tune the surface. Done. I just did this with 25 tons on a high
5. Major infield turf problems: scrape with a tractor and
smooth bucket and start over. This is a lot of work. You need to
put down a good topsoil and level it. Sod takes 3-4 weeks to grow
in before you can use it. Seed takes 6-8 weeks to grow in enough
for competitive play. I
did this kind of field renovation for a baseball field at a park
and rec department. It was so bad, there was no other real way
to fix it.
Bonus: Based on what you tell me and the many baseball
field problems I've seen, there is one more thing you could do.
It works best after it has rained a couple days, but then you have
a day or two of sun. Use
a 3-5 ton steam roller on the infield turf and the outfield turf.
Mark your sprinklers first so you do not hit them. Roll the turf.
It will be very flat. You should also mow first. And it would be
a good idea to aerate after you roll it. Rolling the turf is often
done on multiuse fields where football or soccer tears up the out
field and puts in lots of ruts when playing on the wet ground. I
have done this on several fields. Works great. Alternative is to
use the water filled lawn roller, but this is slower and harder
to do. Put those football players to work pushing it around.
P.S. in general I find it easier and better to
work with what you have - add top dressing and level it - versus
doing major tilling and new seed. But it just depends how bad it
is and how much time you can afford to not be using the field.
Cutter to Reduce Lip and Cut Back the Grass Line
You make mention of a sod cutter that is your
favorite, but I can't tell what brand it is? Can you give me some
As far as sod cutters, I am partial to models like the Turfco Kiss
Cutter model because it has four pneumatic tires and is way easier
to handle and control than the two wheel and one roller versions.
In my neighborhood the best place to rent one is Aba Daba Rents.
I was never happy with the two wheel / roller models that are rented
almost everywhere else.
And the Kiss
Cutter has a better depth regulator if you use it to edge or get
rid of lips as well as actually cut real deep to remove sod that
you might want to lay back down. You might have to call around and
ask specifically for the four wheel sod cutter. Also, a similar
model is called a Billy Goat sod cutter.
Well, have a
great spring season. Some of us in warmer areas are well into field
prep already and then there are some who still have a frozen baseball
field covered with snow. I do not miss the snow of northern Montana!
- Does Your Field Have These Problems?
I've found that the a planning checklist is the way to go.
It shows me where the priority areas are for the ball park to
be safe and playable.
Yours for better play more often,
Publisher, Editor, & Groundskeeper
Ultimate Baseball Field Renovation Guide
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