Putting Your Field to Bed
Before you call it a day—or year—out on the baseball field, there are a few things you should do to wrap up the season and put your field to bed.
- Remove existing conditioner, either by stockpiling it on the infield and covering for the winter or by completely removing it from the field. It’s surprising how much material that will eventually migrate and end up around the edges of the grass when the conditions are dry and windy. Removing the existing conditioner will drastically cut down on the “lip” buildup where the grass and the infield mix meet.
- Add infield material and do a final grade on the skin to ensure positive drainage. It’s also a good time to test the existing infield material and add engineered soil to improve the playing conditions. You never know what the weather conditions will be like come spring, and trying to fit in an infield renovation may prove to be difficult.
- Edge the field! Nothing will set a field apart more than a straight, clean edge. You’ll thank yourself for performing this simple task at the end of the growing season. If you wait until spring—good luck. Now’s also a great time to check the transitions between the dirt and grass or the grass and warning track. The transitions should feel smooth when placing your foot on half of each surface.
- Mound maintenance is a must before putting away the tamps for the winter. This is a great time to flip the pitching rubber, if needed, and to make sure all measurements and grades are up to spec, depending on your field regulations. If it’s time to excavate the old material, make sure to add proper packing clay in layers to achieve the best results. A mound slope gauge is a must when rebuilding your mound or doing routine maintenance throughout the season. And the most important step to take is to make sure your mound is properly covered. Why go through all this hard work just to watch it deteriorate during the winter season? Keep it covered!
- Aerate. Whatever you can get your hands on, open your soil. During my career in baseball, we would try to aerate after every home stand. There were times when my assistant would use a knife tine to simply open up the surface yet leave it playable on a game day. This one simple task can solve complications down the road.
Once you’ve completed these steps to put your field to bed, it’s a great time to contact your ATS representative for recommendations to take your playing surface to the next level.