This is your ultimate guide for preparing your fields. These lists are lengthy, but we’ve broken them down into several subcategories to make it easier for you keep track of and delegate the various tasks you’ll need to consider so you can get your ballfield opened up in the best condition possible. You’ll want to download the PDF and print these lists out so you can add them to your binder. To get going efficiently, you can also check our Field Opening Checklist.
Inspection & Evaluation
You’ll want to look at everything. Consider safety, performance, appearance and the amount of work required to make repairs or upgrade to a better condition.
▢ Bases, anchors, pitching rubber, and home plate: Check for cracks, tears, discoloration, and worn edges.
▢ Tarps and field covers: Look for holes, tears, separated seams, mildew, missing grommets or handles.
▢ Protective screens and nets: Check for broken frames or missing bolts, torn or rotted netting.
▢ Infield protector screens and area turf mats: Check for holes, tears, delaminated backing, missing grommets.
▢ Batting cages: Note any broken frame units, torn nets, uneven ground, damage to the home plate or pitcher’s plate.
▢ Maintenance tools/equipment: take an inventory of drags, line markers, line painters, marking templates, string winders, rakes, shovels, tamps, hoses and nozzles.
▢ Facility: check the backstop, fencing, netting, windscreen, fence cap, padding, benches, bleachers, drains, water lines.
The Work Plan
INFIELD SKIN CARE
▢ Lip removal: Re-level the borders between the skinned portions of the field and the turf.
▢ Nail drag the skin to loosen the top ½”.
▢ Add soil material to modify the soil profile and re-establish proper field grade.
▢ It’s a great idea to have the skinned material composition analyzed. Call Beacon!
▢ Spike to mix new or added material and loosen so material can be moved to level the field.
▢ Regrade and roll field surface. Correct field crown must be established to promote positive surface drainage.
▢ Expose clay fortification in batter’s box and pitching mound. Make repairs and re-level.
▢ Reset the pitching rubber and home plate if needed. They should be level, square, and set to the proper height.
▢ Measure the mound slope and re-work the table and slope shape.
▢ Locate base anchors; measure and confirm their correct positions.
▢ Apply ¼” top dressing layer onto skinned surface for moisture management and to add color.
▢ Aerify the turf to prepare for over-seeding, counter compaction, and allow soil modification.
▢ Select the machinery and method best suited to your purpose.
▢ Topdress following aerification if needed to re-level low spots or amend the soil composition.
▢ Over-seed high wear locations.
▢ If fertilization is called for, use a slow-release product matched to your soil condition. It’s a great idea to have your soil tested for pH and nutrient deficiencies. Contact your fertilizer and seed supplier.
▢ Apply crabgrass and annual grass weed control. Proper application and timing is essential so contact your supplier for product advice and recommended application times in your area. Do not apply control products to freshly seeded areas until new growth is up high enough that it has been mown several times first.
▢ Broadleaf treatment is best done in the spring. This can interfere with grass over-seeding so consider the waiting time as stipulated by the broadleaf control product supplier.
IDEAS TO MAKE FIELD MAINTENANCE BETTER & EASIER
Visit Beacon’s Groundskeeper University for more ideas and how-tos for all the tried & true techniques used by the pros.
▢ Add vitrified clay or calcined clay topdressing amendments. Use no more than a ¼” layer to the top of the skinned base for moisture and compaction control and to add color and create a uniform playing surface.
▢ Fortify the high wear areas in the batter’s box and pitcher’s mound to simplify or reduce maintenance.
▢ Use DuraEdge ProLoc Blocks, DuraPitch Premium or Professional Mound Clay, DuraEdge BlackStick Mound Clay, Porous Batter’s Box Mats, Field ArmorPanels or Jox Box mats. Call Beacon for advice and instructions.
▢ Add “french drains” or “dry wells” to remove water from field low spots.
SOIL, CLAY, CHALK
Reference Beacon’s Ballfield Dimensions & Reference Guide for recommended amounts.
▢ DuraEdge Pro Slide Calcined Clay Topdressings are superior to other brands of calcined clay in that their hardness greatly slows the physical degradation resulting from frequent field dragging. Available in several different particle size ranges depending on your need. Use only as a topdressing. Benefits of a calcined clay are greatly reduced if tilled into the skin.
▢ DuraEdge Pro Slide Expanded Shale Topdressing are harder than calcined clay further reducing degradation from float dragging. Dries the fastest of all top dressings while allowing the infield soil to absorb as much water as possible.
▢ DuraEdge ProLoc Blocks for the batter’s box and pitching mound are made from solid unfired pure clay. The 10 parallelogram shape locks blocks into a solid mass. Much less tamping than when using bagged clay. Simply put bricks in place and perform some tamping at the end to help lock the blocks together. These are perfect for new construction or major mound and batter’s box renovation.
▢ DuraPitch Premium or Professional Mound Clay or DuraEdge BlackStick can be used for new construction, renovation or daily maintenance of mound and batter’s box high wear areas.
▢ Beacon’s Sparkle No.6 dry line marking compound will produce approximately 1,000 ft. of 2-inch wide line per 50 lb. bag. This will vary depending on your marking machine setup and operation techniques.
Stock Up on Tools & Supplies
SUPPLIES & MATERIALS
Make sure you have these tools in your shed and ready for the season.
▢ Beacon Ballfield Dimensions & Reference Guide
▢ Bases with anchors and plugs
▢ Home plate and anchor
▢ Pitching rubber and anchor
▢ Cleat Cleaner
▢ Missile Markers
▢ Line-Mate layout tool
▢ Beacon Pro String Winder
▢ Fiberglass measuring tape
▢ Batter’s box template
▢ Beacon Streamliner dry line marker
▢ Outfield line paint/sprayer
▢ Beacon protective infield screens
▢ Practice area mats
▢ Beacon premium infield protector
▢ Beacon SweetSpot tamp system
▢ Infield rake
▢ Infield leveling bar
▢ Beacon Level Board
▢ Turf edger
▢ Infield broom
▢ Field water pump
▢ Field tarps/area tarps
▢ Beacon field hose system
▢ Beacon Mound Slope Gauge
▢ Beacon Infield Drag
▢ Beacon Drag Spiker
MATERIALS & ACCESSORIES
▢ Beacon Sparkle No. 6 Chalk
▢ DuraEdge ProLoc Blocks
▢ DuraPitch Premium or Pro Mound Clay
▢ DuraEdge Black Stick Mound Clay
▢ Beacon Porous Batter’s Box Mats
▢ Field Armor Panels
▢ Jox Box mats
▢ Pro Slide Expanded Shale Topdressing
▢ DuraEdge Pro Slide Calcined Clay Topdressing
▢ DuraEdge Pro Dry Calcined Clay
▢ Custom protective netting
▢ Custom windscreen panels
▢ Custom protective padding
▢ Fence cap
▢ Batting cage frames/netting
▢ Dugout bat racks