The Ongoing Battle Rages On…
Thanks to the often-squishy sound beneath my feet as I walk the ballfields at our nearby Little League park, the first month or so of the season is typically a bit of an adventure. Even as summer starts to show up and warmer days become the norm, most groundskeepers have been battling (and many continue the battle) against the same thing … wet fields. What is a groundskeeper to do to keep his or her fields dry and get them playable as quickly as possible?
HERE ARE 7 TIPS FOR WET FIELDS:
- Winds can build up soil and topdressing materials into the lips of the infield skin. These lips will drastically affect the drainage of water off of your infield skin so be sure to regularly clean out all lips (see our Groundskeeper U module on Lip Management).
- Make sure the surface of the skin is smooth and level. Fall can be a great time to re-level your infield skin so there are no low spots in the skin which will collect water. This exercise best prepares your field for rapid water removal.
- If your infield was not regraded last fall, go out to the field right after a rain while there are still puddles on the infield skin and, using a rake, carve the outline of each puddle. When dry, nail drag the infield avoiding the low spots so you can find them, then use the loose infield soil to fill these low areas to help the water move off the infield more effectively.
- When it’s early in the spring, you need to wait until the field has lost all frost in the soil profile before attempting any work on the skin portion. If it’s too soft to walk on, you should not be on it.
- If your field is in the northern part of the country — where there’s a noteworthy depth of frost each year (3″ or more) — be sure to roll the field early, once it has dried enough to help seal the field back up so water will run off the field more easily.
- Keep some calcined clay drying agents around for those emergencies. But if the puddles are large or deep, then use some puddle sponges or a puddle pump to remove excess water leaving just very shallow wet areas where drying agents can then work their magic.
- Whatever you do, NEVER use brooms to sweep excess water off your infield soil (see Top 6 Most Common Groundskeeping Mistakes). You will only be worsening the surface grade of the skin by sweeping more soil out which will create an even deeper hole for water to stand in. This will also cause build up of the lips which, even worse, creates a bigger dam along the turf edge. Save the brooms and squeegees for the turf grass only.