Parks & recreation departments offer the opportunity for people to unplug from devices and enjoy experiences to enhance their physical, mental, and social lives. Sports get a wide range of people outdoors, active, and interacting with each other. Baseball and softball are perfect examples.
It’s nearly Spring. Kids are getting excited for Little League. Baseball and softball leagues have formed. Groups of people get together for a fun pickup game of ball.
Make sure your fields are ready!
Baseball Field Management
The season-long task of maintaining baseball fields requires regular inspections and maintenance. Small things your crew does regularly can save big on labor and replacement costs in the long run.
Here are some tips for maintaining safe, playable baseball fields that look great.
Conduct Regular Inspections
You won’t notice problems if you’re not looking for them. Scheduling regular field inspections allow your crew to discover minor problems or safety hazards before they become a major issue.
Inspections should include:
- Infield condition
- Outfield grass
- The transition area between infield & outfield
- Batters boxes/pitching areas
- Storage containers or facilities
Also, provide a brief training for coaches and umpires about field safety. Discuss what to look for and when it’s necessary to report something. The more eyes you have on the fields, the better.
Do a Soil Test
Don’t guess or assume what your soil needs. That’s wasting time and money.
Annual soil testing gives you a clear idea of the health of your turf. After you get the results, add the recommended nutrients. The soil additions help ensure the turf stays healthy, strong, and resilient throughout the baseball season.
Prevent and Identify “Lips”
Baseball field lips are raised bumps in the soil between the infield and outfield. They are formed when infield material shifts due to regular usage, blowing, or improper drainage.
Daily brooming or blowing out of the area can prevent the lip from forming. It’s one of those small tasks that can save a lot of time and money. Lips can cost thousands of dollars to fix when removing debris by ripping out sod is required.
Rake & Drag Regularly
Maintain the grade you created on your playing fields. Dragging fields needs to be done slowly with the proper equipment--not heavy vehicles like trucks or SUVs. Rake the home plate and pitchers’ area after usage. Stop puddle potential by filling in low spots with loose material and tamping them into place.
Seed Worn Spots
Outfielders may actually be able to help the turf! When your crew notices a worn spot in the grass, have them throw some seed on it. The players’ cleats will help push the seed into place during games. Nothing like free labor!
Strategically Schedule Games
Allowing time between heavy use periods lets the turf recover. If you have multiple fields available, be strategic in scheduling games and special events. Stay in regular communication with league schedulers and coaches to know when games and practices occur. Using wet fields ruins the grade, compacts the soil, and creates unsafe playing conditions. After a heavy rain, the “show must go on” mentality could eventually lead to unplayable conditions long after everything dries out. Develop guidelines for when a game needs rescheduling due to field and weather conditions.
Stay on Top of Inspections and Maintenance
Baseball seasons occur during the busiest time for grounds maintenance crews. With everything going on, it’s easy for tasks to fall through the cracks. Some parks & recreation departments started using maintenance scheduling software that integrates with park programming schedules to help ensure baseball fields get the care they need to stay safe and playable throughout the season.