Preparing Your Infield for a Rain Event
It’s been a very wet, cool spring here in the Midwest. With temperatures below average and rainfall above average, it has been a challenging start to the baseball season. Many coaches and sports field managers have been challenged by Mother Nature this spring and continue to look for solutions to keep games scheduled. Here are a few recommendations to help prepare your infield before it rains.
Roll the infield to keep the infield mix as tight as possible. If your facility does not have a roller, you can tire-roll the infield with a mower or utility vehicle, ideally with a turf-type tire. Compacting the infield will help it shed water with less pore space and prevent moisture from soaking through. Never leave a field “open” before it rains, or you will have issues.
Add extra conditioner (calcined clay) to the infield before it rains. Conditioners are designed to soak up extra moisture and improve drainage. The porous structure of calcined clay aids in the absorption of water and allows the athlete to return to play quicker.
Correct any low areas on your infield that might hold water. Sweep out the loose material in the area of concern, and then lightly scarify the low spot. Add new infield mix to the low area before leveling. It’s always a good idea to test the new infield mix to ensure the ratio of sand, silt, and clay will match the existing mix. Proper infield grading should be an extremely high priority to ensure positive surface drainage.
Maintain the edges on the field. Proper care of the turf edges and reduced lip buildup will drastically reduce the amount of water that is trapped and held up on the infield skin. Leveling the transition between the dirt and grass edge will increase positive drainage and lead to a quicker return to play.
By making a few corrections and moves before the rain arrives, you can cut down on the stress and amount of time needed to get your field safe and ready for play once it does start raining.