Although most baseball and softball natural turf grass fields are built on native soils, the typical “use-of-field” and “wear and tear” of the field is minimal compared to a football field or soccer field. As the typical start of the playing season is early spring, weather conditions and evapotranspiration levels play a key role with moisture levels in a native soil field. Natural turf grass on these fields are still susceptible to the same concerns and problems that arise from saturated soil conditions. The strength or weakness of a turf grass plant community is directly related to the moisture levels in soil profile.
Perhaps more infields fail due to poor maintenance than any other condition. Lip buildup through improper care will start to “pond” the infield and not allow water to drain off the surface. The control of lips and maintaining correct grade percentages of the skin is critical to a well performing infield.
Improper use of grounds equipment when grading an infield can lead to lip buildup. Under-watered, dry field conditions, along with athletic play and wind leads to infield soil displacement that collects like a snow-fence where the two areas meet. When left alone, over time these lips will grow. Delaying regular maintenance required to keep the lips under control will lead to costly repairs both in time and money.
The on-going maintenance of the infield skin area is vitally important to maintain a quality infield along with a safe playing surface for the athletes. A proper surface grade is also important to help facilitate the movement of water off the infield skin into the turf grass areas. The reliance on infiltration of water through these soil profiles is not realistic. As the athletes play on these surfaces, wear patterns and/or pockets begin to develop trapping water. Having your infield dirt areas “laser graded” annually is a great way to keep ahead of the problem.