The best infields in baseball have a level
playing surface with a seamless transition between the infield skin and the surrounding
turf. Following proper maintenance techniques will ensure that your infield is in top playing
condition. Starting with the infield edge, there are
a couple of key maintenance techniques that I’d like to share with you to help prevent
an unsafe lip from forming. The first step is to rake all dirt and clay from the turf
back onto the infield skin. This should be done after every game or practice. Follow
up by raking a 2 foot section away from the infield turf. Be sure to rake this area lightly
so that you don’t remove too much material. The reason this raking is required is to help
prevent the formation of a lip when you do your dragging. Nail dragging helps to break
up compacted soil in the infield as well as making a safer playing surface by smoothing
out uneven areas. Before you begin your nail dragging, you’ll need to apply some water
to the infield skin. You’ll need enough water to allow the nail drag to easily penetrate
the surface. A surface that is too wet can cause damage, so having the right amount of
moisture is critical. When dragging an infield, it’s always a good
idea to have different starting and stopping points. In addition, vary your drag patterns
during each maintenance session. This will help keep your infield consistently level.
While making your pattern, take care to keep the nail drag at least two feet from the infield
edge. Be sure to maintain a slow and consistent speed. If your nail drag is chopping or skipping,
you should slow down or re-moisten the infield surface.
Once your nail drag is complete, follow up with a screen drag for that finished look.
Just like the nail drag, vary your start and stop locations and maintain a two-foot buffer
from your grass edge. After you have finished with the screen drag, shake off the excess
material. This can be either blended in or discarded.
If you have a lip buildup at the edge of your turf, there are a couple of ways to help level
it out. One method is to moisten the edge and tamp, centering the tamper between turf
and infield skin. Another more aggressive method for larger buildups is to use a high
pressure hose to blow out the excess material. Maintaining your infield skin on a regular
basis will help prevent future maintenance repairs and give your team an outstanding
playing surface. If you have any questions, stop by your local Ewing branch or visit us
online at ewingirrigation.com.