Springing back after spring rain

From the duraedgeblog:

How do we properly deal with these fluctuations in weather that spring brings to the table?

As always, the proper infield mix is vital to having a safe and playable playing surface. Engineered soils provide the correct ratio of sand, silt, and clay for your level of play—aiding in maintenance and moisture management. Who you are determines where your soils levels should be and what you should do to balance your base soil. Making sure you have a properly installed, balanced base soil with an SCR between 0.5-1.0 will ensure a sturdy foundation. Just as sand, silt, and clay are necessary to make a good infield mix, proper grading for positive surface drainage, moisture management, and maintenance/grooming are all critical no matter the infield mix. Putting your infield to bed in the fall will allow for an easier foundation to work with once spring weather rolls around. It’s important to stay ahead of the curve and not just plan season to season.

During spring, if you can get on the field prior to a weather event, it’s important to check the moisture in the infield. If the infield is dry and loose, the rain can make the loose surface turn into wet slop and, depending on the slope, can accelerate the chance of erosion and runoff. Although it may seem contrary, keep moisture in the infield so that it maintains a firm and stable surface. Dragging the infield with a rigid steel drag mat will help seal off the surface, but again, make sure there is some moisture in the surface otherwise it will not seal. The goal is to produce a strong infield surface that can withstand the elements, don’t do anything too abrasive like nail dragging or opening up the infield prior to any weather event.

Rolling the infield will also help pack it in and seal it off. At a minimum, it’s recommended to roll the position areas, baselines, base cutouts, and home plate circle. Again, make sure there is enough moisture in the infield to obtain the proper compaction. This compaction will also help in the spring since your infield will have gone through a series of freeze/thaw cycles causing the soil to loosen/soften up. It is important to note when it comes to rolling, that although there needs to be moisture in the infield for proper compaction, too much moisture can be troublesome. If material is sticking to your shoes or water becomes present in the footprints, then the infield is too soft to roll.

It’s important to check your edges to make sure there is a smooth transition into the turf and there isn’t a lip developing so that surface water can exit the field. Remember, a proper slope of an infield is designed to allow water to exit—the formation of lips, undulations, or substantial low areas can stop this natural process. Low areas will develop from time to time during the playing season however, it’s just imperative that they are not left untreated and any standing water is removed properly. Some field renovations or laser grading might be necessary if these issues persist.

Also important prior to a weather event, is to tarp your pitching area and home plate. If it’s a substantial weather event, tarp the entire infield skin surface. This will increase your chance of playing soon after the rain event ends.