Preparing Infields for Winter
As November rolls around, most, if not all, baseball and softball games have concluded for the year. No doubt it’s been a long season beginning in March, possibly sooner. But before your much-deserved break, there are a few things to do to put your skins to bed. Now is the time to act. November generally has drier, warmer weather than February, so do yourself a favor and do the work now.
The first thing to do is edge all dirt to grass transitions. Once you have a nice crisp edge, it will be easier to see if your dirt is too low. Can you move material from elsewhere to fix this, or do you need to add Advanced Engineered Soils? Once you make this decision, the process is the same. Lightly till, laser grade, and roll. Tilling allows you to move existing material or to incorporate new material. Then, laser grading ensures proper slope so water can slide off the playing surface. Rolling is vital to keep the grade, and it packs the loose material to keep it from migrating.
After rolling, topdress with Advanced Infield Conditioner at a depth of ⅛ inch to ¼ inch. A good starting point is 1 ton per 10,000 square feet. However, more might be needed depending on particle size and desired depth. The conditioner will help absorb and release moisture. Winter is unpredictable. We’ve all seen the super wet winters, where we think the skins will never dry out. Or what about the super dry winters with numerous freeze-thaw cycles, where the skins get puffy and dry? To help with both of these scenarios, spread In-Flow from Precision Laboratories. In-Flow is an infiltration and hydration surfactant that helps your infield retain and move water. One bag will cover 10,000 square feet.
Another great product to add is Crew by Corteva. Crew is a granular preemergent comprised of Dimension and Gallery to keep broadleaf and grassy weeds at bay. Both active ingredients are labeled for turf, so apply with a rate of 1 bag per 15,000 square feet on skin and grass playing surfaces.
The last step I recommend in preparing your infields for winter is adding landscape edging to the perimeter. After all the hard work you’ve done, this will help your edges stay clean, reduce lips, and keep your Advanced Engineered Soils and Infield Conditioners where you want them. This is easily accomplished with some 4-inch plastic landscape edging secured by 6-inch sod staples. Be sure to remove edging and staples before play resumes in the spring.
I like to complete these items before the weather turns from fall to winter. Then, you can tackle other projects like mound and plate renovations. These areas should be covered by tarps and can be done after wet weather. Smaller in scale and quicker to accomplish, these areas can also get finished on random nice days often seen in December. Use Advanced Professional Mound Clay and Gumbo to complete your mound and plate renovations.
Now, your baseball and softball fields are prepared for winter, and hopefully, so are you. Reach out to your local ATS Rep with any questions about these practices or products as you plan for next season.