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Dear Baseball Fan,

Jim devotes this issue to your most pressing questions about fall baseball field maintenance activities. There's saying: "great pitchers are made in the off season"  This is true for great playing fields too.  Now is the time to make your greatest improvements with your turf and dirt.  Get started before it's too late!

Issue 6



21 Dirt Maintenance Blunders to Avoid

Conversation with Sports Turf Manager of the Year

Make 'em a Field They Can't Refuse

How I Cut Field Maintenance Time in Half

What Players Never Tell You

The Most Important Thing for Your Turf

Trials and Triumphs of a Young Pitcher

The Coach Thinks in Terms of Results


Article Archive


"You will never have significant success with anything until it becomes an obsession with you." -- Coach Gunter.

Your One Stop Place to Increase
Field Safety and Playability

  • STRENGTHENING YOUR TURF: four things to do now

  • IMPROVING YOUR BASEBALL DIRT: analysis and correction

  • GETTING RID OF WEEDS: how to be a hero


  • Putting in sod for your little league infield - the key to success

  • Maintenance planning - make your spring prep easier

Strengthening Your Turf for the Spring

Al was asking me,"When is the best time to improve your turf here in Roseville, CA?"
My answer, "Right now in the fall!"

Spring works also, but it has its challenges: cold nights, soggy ground, teams using the fields.  Fall is best: nights not too cold, usually not soggy, often teams are not using the field.

Four things you want to do for your turf:  get rid of weeds, aerate, overseed, and fertilize.  Sure, the grass might go dormant in the winter, but it will come back strong in the spring. This whole process can be repeated or done in the spring also, but growth may be slower.

In the middle temperate climates we overseed with a mixture of perennial rye and bluegrass.  Choices of grass seed vary depending again on your climate, but here's a summary of the types of grass seed used on infields.

Improving Your Baseball Dirt

Todd is currently the head baseball coach at his High School in northwest PA. He writes in, "I am very concerned about the conditions of our infield skinned area. I recently did a simple soil test, and found that our field contains roughly 70% sand, 20% silt, and 10% clay. We are looking to get a type of infield surface that many professional baseball programs have. My question is what exactly do I do? We want to add products to our existing dirt, and what should that product be? Any direction that you can point me into will help greatly."


Improving your infield dirt mix is one of the most important tasks you could be doing this time of year.

Your analysis tells me that you have a lot of sand in your mix. Players probably lose their footing and sometimes get bad bounces.

So, I'm going to tell you what I've done to fix similar problems on the west cost and then I'm going to share a contact with you in your area that could help you if you want to take the next step with this project.

First, a typical high school size field has about 12,000 square feet of dirt area. To get the clay content up to about 25% will take about 37 tons of clay spread into the top 4 inches. The process used is important for the added material to mix, adhere, bond with the existing mix. Just as a rough idea for budget: in N. CA it costs about $2,200 for 37 tons of the premium clay used on the SF Giants field.  37 tons is about 3 dump trucks.

Reference material from my site:

Here's a case study project doing this kind of playing surface upgrade on a softball field:

Some hints and tips when correcting infield skin mix:

Choices, decisions, tips, and mistakes to avoid when improving your infield skin:

Here's a list of 6 ways to improve your infield skin - these range from free, but short lasting to long lasting with a price to pay:

Todd, as an extra bonus here's a contact close to you that knows baseball fields. Frazier's Field Repair - serving the Ohio region. Experience in just what you need done. Troy has a couple web pages about infield dirt specs and adding dirt to your infield skin.

Check these out:

P.S. One other idea: the Erie SeaWolves, Tigers AA team, play in Erie in Jerry Uht Park. Here's a professional team near you.  Contact their groundskeeper for leads on professional quality baseball dirt.

Getting Rid of Weeds

Jason had been a assistant golf course supervisor for fifteen years.  He just switched to a new job of taking care of ballfields in his town and his first project is to recondition the warning track at the high school. It's extremely weed infested. So, what can we advise to help Jason be a hero in his town?

Weeds.  Part of the curse of fallen mankind.  We sweat to get rid of them.

So let's look at a couple ways to eliminate and control weeds in your ball park.

First, the easy stuff.  You can use a product like Roundup on areas where you don't want any grass or weeds growing.  These areas include the warning track, the basepaths, infield skin, coaches boxes, and the base of fencing. Roundup goes on the weed and down to the root and kills the weed.  I slowly turns yellow, then brown, and dries up.  This can take 2-3 weeks to kill the weed.

If you want to visibly see faster action with weed control, use Roundup that includes the ingredient Diquat.  The Diquat burns the top of the weed in 1-2 days.  The Roundup still needs some time to get down and kill the root, but visibly you'll see dead, brown, dry grass in a couple days.  Roundup with Diquat costs a bit more than Roundup alone, but I like the instant look of deadness it gives when you spray the weeds.

Next, let's look at weed control as part of your infield turf maintenance.  You want to get rid of the broadleaf weeds, but keep your infield grass intact.  Infield grass might be rye, bluegrass, fescue, or bermuda.  A fellow I talked to recently said he had 'California green' in his infield.  He meant he has just about every kind of grass and weed growing - he just fertilizes to keep it all green!

Weed and feed is a common approach.  The granules need to land on, and stay on, the broad leaf weeds and grasses.  The rest of the granules fall to the root area and fertilize the grass.  The problem with this approach is that most of the weed killer doesn't land on the grass.  It falls to the ground.  And weed and feed isn't cheap.  Especially enough for 8,000 square feet of grass.

Another approach that is more complete, and cheaper, is to use liquid weed killer for the infield turf.  I like the Trimec Plus concentrate.  A one pint bottle costs $9 and covers 5,000 square feet.  You can apply it with a hand-operated sprayer (plunger or pump-up sprayer) and spray weeds evenly until lightly covered..  The trimec controls crabgrass, yellow nutgrass, and broadleaf weeds. The spray completely covers the weeds and does a more complete and thorough job of eliminating the bad stuff in your infield.  You do need to wait about 3 weeks before you overseed if using weed and feed or the liquid weed killer with trimec.  Also follow directions about avoiding use in hot weather.

Now as far as eliminating the weeds after they are dead: In the infield turf, your regular mowing will take care of getting rid of it.  On the dirt areas, there are a couple things you can do.  You can let the dead grass shrivel and disintegrate which might take months. Or you can use a power tool to dig up or shred the dead weeds.  These include using a sod cutter to cut out dead weeds (warning track for example) or a thatcher set low to pulverize and shred the weeds (infield skin or warning track for example). 

Putting in Sod for Your Little League Field

Mike wrote in asking about sod.  He's putting in two infields for little league. He wants to know how much sod he'll need. Both fields are little league size 60' base paths.

Mike, this is a great time of year to resod or overseed. I’ve done several sod fields during September. A 60’ little league infield usually has base paths 4 feet wide. So the grass area is 56’ square minus a little bit for the mound and the base cutouts.

One little league field will take about 3000 square feet or 120 square yards depending on how it is sold. Sod installers typically pad this by 5-10% to allow for edges, rounded spots, or ‘goofs’. You don’t want to run out - that’s for sure. Two little league infields would take 6000 square feet.

You should get free delivery for this much sod. I’ll admit I used professional sod installers on my first few fields. It cost a couple hundred more, but they worked fast and did a good job. But then after watching them, I found myself thinking, “I could have done that.” So, now I do it myself with help from a few others. They real key to success with sod is the prep work ahead of time and soaking it after installation. Then stay off it till it is rooted in.

Spring Maintenance Planning

At the risk of being repetitious for those of you who read last month's newsletter, I'm again suggesting some maintenance planning.

A little time now will put you way ahead in the spring.  Depending on your climate and fall field use, there are many things you can do now that really do make it easier in the spring.  For one, grass seed and turf maintenance is easier in the late fall than in the cold, wet spring. 

What else can you be doing? Here's how to get on top of this.

Use a ballpark audit checklist.

When you use a ballpark audit checklist, you'll know exactly what your ball field condition is and exactly what you need to do to fix problem areas or prevent something from becoming a problem.

I've found that a checklist is the way to go.  It also shows me where the priority areas area: safety.  I'm sure you could make up your own checklist, or just go out and walk your entire field and take notes.


Have a Question for Jim Reiner?  Have an Idea to Share with Readers?

Speak out.  Use the Better Fields for Better Play contact form.

All contents of this ezine are copyright 2007 by The Ultimate Baseball Field Renovation Guide. 

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