We hope your season is off to a great start! Even if you came out of the gate strong with a high-performing infield, it is always a good idea to take stock of how your infield is performing midway through the season.
Former MLB Groundskeeper and one of our resident DuraEdge Field Experts, Luke Yoder, put together some definitive tips and tricks to keep your infield performing and help fix what may not be working.
Your infield surface should have a 1/8-1/4” layer of topdressing. Even if you started your season with an adequate amount of topdressing, you would still need to add several bags throughout the season to maintain this coverage.
In most cases, infields are groomed with a 1” Mesh Screen Drag Mat – an important tool to have for a finish drag before the game and grooming between games. A 1” Mesh Screen Drag Mat will move material around smooth out the surface by filling in minor depressions with mostly topdressing, which does not have the binding characteristics of a good infield clay.
However, if all that is ever used is a Screen Drag Mat, eventually areas like the first base leadoff area will wear down quicker through the season. This is where implementing the use of a nail drag into your maintenance routine will prevent position areas from wearing down so quickly and help to maintain the grade longer.
A good nail drag displaces the topdressing and works more of the infield material into any depressions. We recommend keeping the bolt drag off your infield and purchasing a properly designed Nail Drag.
Knowing when to nail drag is half the battle and will depend on your access to water your field.
If you are able to water your field…
- Flood your infield surface after your last game
- Check your surface the next morning and make sure the surface is not too tacky
- If all is good with the surface, you should nail drag that morning
If you are not able to water your field…
- Try and time your nail drags after an overnight rain shower event
- Nail dragging your infield when the surface is too dry won’t hurt anything but does not do much to help your surface.
Proper nail dragging should only penetrate the top ¼” or so of the base soil, deeper nail dragging can have negative effects with your surface grade over time. After nail dragging, it is beneficial to follow up with a screen drag to bust up and settle any small chunks and then water as heavy as you can before your first game.
If you can make nail dragging part of your routine, ideally you would start off each day with a nail drag. But in this case, something is better than nothing. So, if time is an issue, shoot for once a week or after a rain event.
The reality is that most do not have the time to water their infield as much as needed to maximize performance. Hand watering is the most effective technique, but it does take time. With hand watering, a high flow nozzle, with a 1” hose with good pressure will help maximize your time. Another option would be an irrigation zone (or two) dedicated to the infield skin.
If time is a concern, consider focusing on the most important areas of your surface:
- The sliding area into 2nd base
- Areas in front of the infielders where they will most often field the ball
Keep in mind that ideal moisture is throughout the infield profile. Under dry conditions, most fields are watered just enough to get some water into the top inch or less. This technique is more cosmetic and what some call “knocking the dust down.” It will not provide much of a benefit and will dry out much quicker than starting the game with moisture throughout the profile. If you can’t achieve this ideal moisture throughout the entire infield profile, concentrate on the prioritized areas mentioned above to maximize performance.
Our team of experts is here to help you this season and beyond. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our Field Experts for everything from problem areas to renovations.
One Comment Add yours
Highly Informative Article. Keep posting in the future also. Thanks…