Project: Roll and Sand the Turf

Project to Raise the Low Areas on
the Infield Grass by Adding Sand

Want to get rid of bad bounces? 
Want to get rid of puddling on the infield grass after rains?

THIS process works.


Finding the problem areas

On this field, the infield turf area was not level anymore.  Low spots had developed between the mound and third base and between the mound and first base.  Maybe constant foot traffic in these areas did this.  Especially if this happened with the ground wet.

So, what's the best way to find out where the problem areas are on your infield turf?  What I do is mow it.  By hand.  If you walk behind a mower you get a very good feel for the dips, ruts, and high spots.  You and the mower will be able to feel it.

So, as you mow, mark the spots where it obviously is low.  If you already know great.  But sometimes you find more my mowing.  I use the sprinkler flags to mark the areas.

Here's what you need for this project

  1. Mower to mow the infield before starting this project
  2. Infield drag - the wire mesh type works best for this
  3. Lawn roller or steam roller optional
  4. 2-3 yards of dry fill sand; for details about sand selection with this project check here
  5. Shovels, wheelbarrow, and / or buckets
  6. Field rake


Fixing It

  1. When you start this process, it's best that your field is not dry as a bone.  In preparation for the rest of the work, water the day before.
  2. When the grass is dry, mow it.  Mow the grass so it is about 1-1/2 inches long. It's best if you either rake up the clippings or catch them in the mower grass catcher.
  3. Roll the infield turf.  This step is optional and works best on slightly moist dirt.  But if you have some really lumpy spots, it will help alot.  You can either use a lawn roller or a steam roller. On this field I used the lawn roller first.  This helped some, but I also used the steam roller.  This turned the lumpy, bumpy areas into more gently rolling areas.  These are easier to fix with the sand.
  4. Spread the sand so 75% of the grass still sticks up.  You can dump the sand in small piles and rake it around. 
  5. Then drag the area several times to level out the sand and work it down to the root zone. 
  6. Water like normal.
  7. Play on it.
  8. Repeat the same process in 2-3 weeks. Most of the sand will seem to have disappeared. 
  9. Keep doing this till the low spots level out.

Tips & Hints

  1. You can throw out some grass seed on the sand before you use the hand drag to level it out.  This can help strengthen and thicken turf if needed.  A light application of fertilizer helps too.
  2. If you are using a steam roller, this is a great time to work on fixing any lips at the grass edges too.  See the section on options for fixing lip buildup on the field for specifics.

Things not to do on this project:

  1. Don't roll it after sanding, roll before; otherwise it's like sandpaper on the grass.  It will be stressed it you do this.
  2. Don't work with wet sand; it doesn't spread very well.  I tried this once because the sand delivery was wet. It's just a lot more work and it is heavier when it's wet.


lumpy bumpy infield turf
lumpy, bumpy infield
turf area with some
low spots to boot

wire mesh hand drag
hand drag to level and
knock down the sand

steam roller and sand pile
roller and 13 ton pile
of fill sand

infield turf rolled
infield turf that is rolled

dry sand on the left
is easier to work with

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