Dig In – Preparing Baseball and Softball Fields
BUFFALO GROVE, Ill. – (January 18, 2010) Spring maintenance on any playing field is a crucial step to ensuring a safe and fun season. To assist groundskeepers and field maintenance workers, Turface Athletics™ has compiled maintenance tips to assist with both baseball and softball infield preparation and outfield turf care.
Before starting any maintenance, walk the entire field and evaluate winter damage, vandalism and areas that require special attention. Putting together an action plan to address specific infield and turf needs is the next step.
“Get started as early as weather permits, and be sure to refer back to any plans you were unable to complete the prior year,” said Jeff Langner, brand manager for Turface Athletics. “If you find you need assistance with soil testing, developing a maintenance plan or selecting appropriate products, your local field supply distributor may be a great resource.”
Turf care can be organized by two categories: soil analysis and care, and establishing and maintaining vegetative growth. Soil analysis testing will help you determine pH level adjustments, the need for a fertility program, and the need for pre-emergent herbicides to help prevent weeds. Aerating the field when the temperature is cool will help relieve compaction and improve drainage. Topdressing the field helps modify the soil structure and levels the field which contributes to stronger grass plants.
To establish healthy grass growth, first you’ll need to check the irrigation system and quick connects for leaks and damaged heads. Ideally, you’ll need to establish a mowing routine that keeps the grass at a manageable and playable height, while never removing more than one third of the leaf. Making sure the mower blades or reels are sharpened is also an important step.
Preparing your infield or clay infield surface not only keeps the field in better condition, it helps prevent lips in skinned and grass transition areas that can lead to serious injury. First, you’ll want to remove any grass or weeds on skinned areas by mechanical means or spraying with a turf labeled, non-selective herbicide.