How to Manage Moisture for Success
Balancing and maintaining the proper or "just the right amount" of moisture in the infield mix is critical to a safe playable surface. When your infield has the right amount of water, it is easy to groom, not dusty, provides great footing and is smooth for sliding and getting good ball hops.
Each groundskeeper has different quality and quantity of water resources to service their field. Most have to rely on Mother Nature to provide them with the right amount of moisture. Big league parks have great sources of water and heavily water their fields on a daily basis to maintain a moist infield mix.
Regardless of their resources, all are searching to answer, "How much water is just the right amount?" There are too many variables to make it scientific. Is there a "high sky" or is it cloudy? What’s the temperature and humidity? Is there a breeze or is the air still? Day game or night? The decision making process on adequate moisture in an infield mix is a learned skill and varies by field.
MLB groundskeepers have the resources to create an ideal watering program. Barney Lopas, Head Groundskeeper of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim follows these guidelines:
- To maintain good moisture levels start early in the day. Start watering 8 to 10 hours before a game and water heavily.
- Water must migrate deeply into the infield soil and this takes some time.
- Weather dictates how much water needs to be applied right at game time. Hand watering with a hose is recommended.
- Incorporating soil conditioner, he specifically uses Turface®, which is essential for a well managed field because it absorbs moisture and slowly releases it back into the field.
- Because the pitcher's mound and batter's boxes are constructed with heavy packing clay, it is necessary to keep them moist to prevent cracking.
- Covering your mound and home plate areas after a light watering is the ideal maintenance practice. If you do not cover them, coating with Turface® can assist in maintaining moisture levels in these areas.