Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Cliffmas and Happy Halladays!

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone reading this post is in the holiday spirit.

For some fun on this great holiday, let's think of baseball names past and present that have christmas ties. Here 5 that come to mind:

1. Matt Holliday
2. George Bell
3. Bob Shepard
4. Chris Carpenter
5. Jesus Alou

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Play on!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kenyon College - Swimming in December?

Travels throughout the country leads me to facilities of all shapes and sizes. Even though our goal is to speak about sports turf, I had to post about the site I visited early this week. The Kenyon Athletic Center is impressive. First of all, the 250,000+ sq ft facility has windows all over the facility. In fact, the day I visited there were no lights on. Why? There is so much natural light there is no need for lights. The competition gym (Photo #3) has windows on three sides. When is the last time you saw that many windows in a gym! My tour finished at an extremely unique facility, the swimming pool. (Photos #1 and #2) Have you ever seen a pool this big surrounded by windows! Kenyon has won 31 straight men’s D-III swimming titles. The women have won the last 23 of 27 D-III titles. Wow!

For a link to the Kenyon Athletic Center click HERE
For a link to the Kenyon Men’s Swimming site click HERE
For a link to the Kenyon Women’s Swimming site click HERE

Please see our new web site at

Play on!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How Do They Do That - Volume #1 - Metrodome

Over the life of the SmartTurf blog I will post from time to time under the simple title - "How Do They Do That." Today's topic - the Metrodome in Minneapolis, MN. Early in the AM on Sunday December, 12, 2010 the dome roof deflated due to the weight of the snow. So, the question is, "How does the dome stay inflated?"

Metrodome History - here
Metrodome Vital Stats - here
Image From Inside the Dome - here
The Engineering Behind The Dome - here
TCF Stadium Information (Probable site for Monday's game) - here

More fun topics in the future!

Check out our new website:

Play on!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Brown County Baseball and Softball

I always like to see facilities that "fit in" to their location. A great example of this are the fields at Brown County. These high school fields at located in beautiful Brown County in southern Indiana. As many of you may know, Brown County is famous for it's forests and excellent fall colors. So, the school corporation used materials that are a great match to the site. The dugouts, press boxes, and the concession stand all look like little lodges. This is a first class facility that is worthy of hosting ISHAA tournament events.

Check out our new website:

Play on!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Week Ahead

I hope everyone had a great weekend. The J&D Turf crew will be at the OTF tradeshow and conference this week.

Check out our website at

Play on!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Baseball Fields Hosting Football?

As many of you saw over the weekend, both Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium hosted football games this weekend. So, I figured I would share a couple of articles and a video of some of the preparations. Look for an additional post about the games later this week.

For an article about Wrigley’s transformation, click HERE
For an article on the history of football at Wrigley, click HERE, check out how the old configuration ran north-south

For an article on the Yankee Stadium transformation, click HERE
For a video of the transformation, click HERE

Play on!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bermudagrass in the North - Round 2

As a quick follow up to the earlier post on Bermudagrass in the north, I wanted to post two more photos as the fall seasons start to wind down. These photos are from Rose-Hulman. The first photo is from the Cook Stadium at Rose-Hulman. This field has a Patriot Bermudagrass base that has been overseeded with Barenbrug Turf Star Elite ryegrass. As you can see, this field is still in excellent condition. The second photo is from the intramural fields at Rose-Hulman with the same Patriot Bermudagrass/Ryegrass overseeding. These fields have had numerous practices, games, etc and have been used non-stop since the early fall. Though not all of the Barenbrug Turf Star ryegrass has survived the traffic through the middle of the fields, the surfaces are still safe and playable.
Play on!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Slicer Baseball

Travels across the Midwest leads to interesting visits, on Friday the site was La Porte. I snapped a couple of photos of this interesting field. La Porte has won 8 state baseball titles, the most in the state of Indiana. Also, in 1987, La Porte was National Champions.

Play on!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bermudagrass in the North?

As the Colts line up to take on the Eagles in Philadelphia today, I figured it would be a great time to spend a couple of minutes on bermudagrass. The game today will be played on bermudagrass that has been overseeded with ryegrass. Does that make a difference? Absolutely. Bermudagrass will go dormant and lose all color when weather cools and the first frost occurs. In Indiana and Philadelphia this is typically mid-late October. The turf will stay dormant until temperatures rise above 60 degrees in the spring, and then the turf will slowly start to green and will grow vigorously when night temperatures exceed 65 degrees. Please see the two photos. The first one is from the Colts training camp fields at Anderson University. This photo was taken last week. The other photo is from the Colts complex also taken last week. Both are Patriot bermudagrass. Obviously, the Colts complex has been overseeded. This practice field has seen in excess of 30 practices since Sept 1. The Eagles have a similar overseeded field. Purdue also plays on a similar overseeded field. Bottom line is, with proper maintenance, these surfaces provide a great surface for football.

In conclusion, this is something to keep an eye on. I truly believe we will continue to see bermudagrass push further north for athletic fields. For more info on bermudagrass in northern climates, click here.

Play on!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Late Fall Fertilizer?

It has been a difficult year to grow good sports turf in Indiana in 2010. I get a number of questions in regards to late fall fertilizer. The bottom line is, apply the late fall fertilizer application! Please see the link HERE for a great piece from Purdue.
Play on!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Broad Leaf Weed Control?

Broad Leaf Weed Control – In November?
I have had many questions about broad leaf weed control in November. The number one question is: “How effective are applications for broad leaf weeds in November?” The answer, very effective, Dr. Aaron Patton just posted a Turf Tip is regards to this topic. To see the tip, click HERE.
Play On!

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's Been a Busy Summer.......

It has been a busy summer, as i like to say, there is never an "off-season." Please see the exicting news in regards to J&D Turf below. Also, please be on the look-out for more frequent posts as J&D moves into 2011

J&D Turf Set to Expand Sports Turf Business
In early May, J&D Turf formed a strategic partnership with local golf and lawncare supplier Advanced Turf Solutions (ATS). President, Jamie Mehringer, and Sales Consultant, Dave Henricksen, remain part owners in J&D Turf, now based out of Fishers, alongside ATS.
J&D Turf, founded in the summer of 2008, specializes in athletic field construction, consultation and maintenance. Company president Jamie Mehringer, former head groundskeeper then director of operations at Victory Field in his 10 seasons with the Indianapolis Indians, brings to the market a combined expertise in sports turf and management. The combination has proven to be the differentiator for J&D Turf as the team tackles projects for professional sports teams, universities, K-12 school systems and parks departments. No matter the industry, clients see unparalleled playability on the field for their athletes and on-time, on-budget and beyond-expectations results for the administrators. With J&D Turf, everyone wins.
J&D Turf services:
• Laser grading
• Aerification
• Infield renovations
• Field construction
• Field renovation
• Grow-in of athletic fields
• Topdressing
• Overseeding
• Mound and plate construction and renovation
Branded as Smart Turf, J&D Turf believes that the potential in every field is realized by understanding the science that drives healthy turf. Translating that know-how to projects is what the company’s consulting services are all about. For some, clients often have the manpower to work the athletic fields but need direction on what the staff should be doing to have the greatest impact. And, with architecture and civil engineering firms, it means ensuring the athletic fields are approached differently than is the common greenspace in the design. J&D Turf’s consulting ranges from one-time site visits by the experienced crew to lengthy consulting engagements with Jamie Mehringer.
Spend enough time in and around athletic fields in Indiana and you will undoubtedly see the results of J&D Turf’s work and expertise. The company has been part of projects with parks departments in Columbus, Fishers, Indianapolis and Plainfield. At the collegiate level, go to Butler University, DePauw University, Marian University, Indiana State University, Indiana Tech, Indiana University, University of Indianapolis or University of Notre Dame. Fields at each have benefited from J&D Turf’s touch.
The synergies between J&D Turf and ATS will benefit clients and customers on both sides. The partnership has greatly expanded J&D Turf’s product offerings and provides the business stability necessary to maintain a fleet of the latest equipment. And, the latest development, J&D Turf and ATS are the exclusive dealer of Natural Sand soil amendments, infield mixes, and mound clay in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The only full-service turf product and maintenance company in the region, J&D Turf is stronger than ever.
In the near future, J&D Turf plans to increase the size of its crew and, in turn, the geographic territory they are able to cover. Learn more about the J&D Turf approach at And, ask your colleagues. It won’t take long before you hear firsthand about Smart Turf results on Indiana’s athletic fields.

Play on!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring Seeding

I get this question numerous times during my travels.

The bottom line is, it is always best to seed in the late summer/early fall, but if you need to seed in the spring, Now is the time!

Click here for a great turf tip and publication from Purdue University in regards to spring seeding.

Play on!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Infield Mixes, Vol 12: Post-Season Maintenance

Providing that the steps laid out in the previous 11 volumes were executed, the post-season maintenance of the infield surface is relatively simple and straight forward. There are a few steps that should be taken every year and a few that can be taken on an every 2-3 year basis.

Every Year:
• Continue to edge the infield – this will help to control lips (see Vol 8)
• Laser grade the infield without the addition of infield mix
• Continue to drag the infield to ensure a smooth surface and control weeds
• Keep topdressing at the “typical” levels (1/8-1/4 in. depth)

Most mistakes that I see are staff and coaches who “let the infield go” after the season and the infield has “lips” and unwanted weed growth in the off-season. There are no good products to eliminate weeds on an infield. Pre-emergence products like Snapshot has shown some promise, but if the infield or warning track is played on at any level of play the products will not work as well.

Every 2-3 Years:
• Add new infield mix to the existing infield to ensure positive drainage (see Vol 7)
• Add additional topdressing after adding new infield mix
• Use a laser to check the edges and lower edges and re—sod if necessary

Another mistake I see at high school levels and below is that infield mix is not added on a frequent basis. So, when the infield is 3 inches below grade and the surface drainage has been compromised, six truckloads of infield mix need to be added. That process is very costly. It is much easier to add a truckload or two every 2-3 years. Not only is this more cost-effective long term in regards to infield mix, but think about how much money was spent on drying agent as the infield mix was neglected and went from 1 inch below grade to 3 inches below grade over the years!

What else do you do to your infield during the post-season?

Play on!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Infield Mixes, Vol 11: In-Season Maintenance

Before undertaking in-season maintenance on your infield surface, make sure to review these blog posts:
Provided that the steps laid out in the previous 10 volumes were executed, the in-season maintenance of the infield surface is relatively simple and straight forward. Every day the field is in use the following steps should be followed:

  • Tire roll all position areas and areas around the bases
  • Lightly nail drag the infield – no more that ¼ inch deep
  • Hand rake all the edges using a landscape rake
  • Mat drag the infield
  • Water the infield
  • Hand rake all position areas and around bases using a landscape rake
  • Mat drag infield
  • Hand rake all the edges using a landscape rake
  • Lightly roll infield
  • Water infield to the point of standing water to ensure adequate deep moisture – this should be the heaviest water application of the day
Misc. Tasks During the Season
  • Add conditioner as needed to ensure the 1/8-1/4 inch depth
  • Edge infield
  • Float conditioner as necessary
  • Add infield mix as necessary – follow the same steps as laid out in Volume 7
What else do you do to your infield in-season?

Play on!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Infield Mixes, Vol 10: Pre-Season Maintenance

It’s that time again in Indiana. The college baseball season is beginning and the high school season is ready to begin March 15. So, what a better time to talk about pre-season maintenance for your infield!

When it comes to infields, I always recommend double checking the distances of your bases. Here is link for field dimensions. Did you know it is 90 ft from the apex of home plate to the back of first base? After checking dimensions, edge your infield. Next roll your infield, and your entire field for that matter, with a 3 ton dual drum roller to settle any frost heave from the harsh winter weather. After rolling, adjust your topdressing to achieve the desired 1/8-1/4 in layer. Please see Volume 6 of the series, Topdressings for more information on topdressings. Finally, mat drag your infield to create a smooth surface.

If you have been maintaining your infield properly, pre-season maintenance is easy in this very busy time. That is why I always recommend completing all renovations in the fall. If you need to do renovations in the spring, please see Volume 7 of this series, Adding New Material to Existing Material.

Play on!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Infield Mixes, Vol 9: “Lip” Controls for Infields

One of the questions I receive during my travels is: “How do I control the “lips” around the infield?”

To answer that question, we need to investigate what a lip is. A lip is a raise in elevation around the edges of the infield. A lip causes bad hops for infielders and also creates a trip hazard for athletes.

The first step is to decide if your field has a lip or a dam. Why is that? I have seen just as many fields that where too low from a lack of infield mix than fields that had bad lips. Please review Volumes 4 and 5 of the SmartTurf Blog for more infield drainage information.

Now that the decision is made that lips are present, how did they occur? Typically a few factors cause lips:
1. Edging did not occur frequently. – Please refer to Vol. 8
2. Material was not removed from the turf after games – using either leaf rakes or vacuum units
3. Poor dragging techniques – Please see correct dragging patterns here.
4. Raking material into the turf
5. Persistence use of a field tarp – dragging the tarp across the field with push material into the edges

So, how do you repair lips? There are a few options depending on how severe the lips are on your field. I will break it down from small lips to large lips:
1. Simply edge your infield more frequently. Quite simply, this will help solve a minor problem
2. Use a tine rake or broom to remove material from the turf
3. Use water to “blast” the material from the turf back into the infield
4. The last resort – take a sod cutter, trim the sod back, remove the material with a rake and replace the sod

With the sod option, keep in mind if you have older sod or fescue sod, the sod may not hold together as you move the turf around. There may be a need to replace the sod with new turf.

After repairing your lips, work hard to avoid creating lips in the future!

Play on!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Infield Mixes, Vol 8: Edging Infields and Warning Tracks

Edging an infield is a basic task that can accomplish many goals. Edging is simply broken into two categories: pre/post-season and in-season.

Pre/post-season edging can remove large amounts of turf. In northern climates, Kentucky bluegrass produces rhizomes, which causes the plant to spread. In southern climates, bermudagrass produces both rhizomes and stolons and is very aggressive/invasive on infields and warning tracks. Re-establishing edges before a season can be tricky if proper planning is not taken. ALWAYS measure your edges after your last edging of the season.

How do you do this? For baselines, stretch a string that your typically lay out for the foul line. Measure each edge off the line and make a simple drawing. (varies) For the infield, place all three bases in the anchors and measure from the back corner of the base to the front edge of the infield. (typically 3 ft) For the base cutouts, use a 100 ft tape and measure for the anchor to the turf edge. (typically 15 ft) For the back arc, take the same 100 ft tape and measure from 1 ½ ft in front of the pitcher’s rubber to the back arc. (typically 95 ft) Now, all the guessing of the first edging of the spring is a thing of the past! For the warning track, measure off the wall/chain link fence. Then, edge the surface and bring the field back to in-season dimensions.

In-season edging will keep the field not only looking good, but also reduces lips. ALWAYS string up the edges before edging the infield or warning track. In-season, edging should take place every two weeks. If you are edging every two weeks, only grass clippings will be removed.

Now you have the basic info, let’s look at the tools! Pre/post-season edging will require a bed edger and a typical blade edger. Also, to remove the turf, a loop hoe is handy. When edging in-season, the blade edger is the best choice.

Play on!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Infield Mixes, Vol 7: Adding New Infield Mix to Existing Mixes

Every infield will need additional material added to the existing infield on a frequent basis. The question I usually hear is: “How often will I need to add material?” That question is not easy to answer for a few reasons. First, what type of mix are you using on your existing infield? Often, local and less expensive mixes are used. A mix that is not balanced will not hold a grade as well as a balanced infield mix. What is your sand/silt/clay and SCR in your mix? Secondly, how close do you want the transition for turf to dirt to be? At the highest levels, mix is added at least once a year to ensure good ball roll and to ensure correct surface drainage. If your infield mix is low, the back edge will create a dam for water after rain events.

So, with all that said, how do you add new mix? The first task is to test your infield mix. A test will cost about $100 per test, but when a good, balanced mix can cost $1,500+ per load the $100 test is well worth the expense! You need to know what you have before you decide what to add. (Consult Infield Mixes, Vol 3 for more info) If you have questions, please let me know. I will work with you to ensure that a correct mix is added to your existing mix. After the mix that will be added is determined, it’s time to go to work.

The first step is to remove all the topdressing from the infield. This topdressing may be able to be re-used if the material is clean and free of the existing mix. Next, if the infield grade is in poor condition a rough laser grade should be performed to move the existing mix into the correct location. The new infield mix should then be added to the existing infield using a topdresser to ensure consistent application of the new material. Blecavating the infield is the next step. Blending the new material into the existing material at a 4 inch depth is CRITICAL! Furthermore make sure all the edges are tilled by hand. After the blending takes place, the infield is rolled with a 3 ton duel drum roller to ensure proper compaction. Then, the process of laser grading and rolling is performed until the infield reaches the proper grade. Finally, infield topdressings are added and the infield is finished with a mat drag.

Adding new mixes to existing mixes is a very labor intensive operation. With skilled labor and the correct equipment, this process will take between 8-12 hours to complete. To be honest, this is a job that is best to leave to professionals.

Play on!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Infield Mixes, Vol 6: Topdressings

Infield topdressings are always a great point of discussion. Topdressing is the top 1/4 – ½ inch of material on the surface of the infield. Topdressing acts as the “mulch” of the infield. Infield topdressings fall into major three categories:

1. Calcined Clay
2. Vitrified Clay
3. Crushed Aggregates

Calcined clay is a clay baked between 1200 to 1400 degrees in rotary kilns. The common trade names for calcined clays include: Diamond Pro Professional Calcined Clay, Soilmaster Red, and Turface MVP. Calcined clays are extremely absorbent and slowly release moisture back to the soil. Typically, calcined clays are reddish-tan in color.

Calcined clay drying agents are the smallest sized calcined clay products. Since the products are smaller, they cover more surface area, thus this products dries wet areas quicker than a calcined clay topdressing.

Vitrified clay is a clay that is baked at over 2000 degrees in rotary kilns. The common trade name for this product is Diamond Pro Infield Conditioner. Vitrified clays have low moisture absorption capabilities and dry quickly after wetting.

Crushed aggregates are typically a decomposed granite, or in other areas of the Midwest, brick dust. Crushed aggregates will break down quicker than calcined or vitrified clays. The most common issue I see is raising elevation too much with crushed aggregates. Furthermore, brick dust is very abrasive and will stain uniforms.

The bottom line is: any topdressing used at a depth in excess of 1/2 in will produce a surface that will be too loose when dry. If your infield is more than 1/2 inch low, additional infield mix will need to be brought in and blended with the existing material. (There will be a post on that topic shortly)

Which topdressing is best for your field? Do you have topdressing questions? Feel free to leave a comment, or give me a call/email. I will be happy to assist you in any topdressing question.

Play on!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Infield Mixes, Vol 5 : Laser Grading

Well we have covered the basics of infield mixes, what makes up a mix, SCR and EST, and drainage, so let’s move on to grading.

Simply stated, laser grading is the use of laser technology to grade an infield. The laser is set up on a fixed point, depending on which type of laser is used, and sends a laser beam to a receiver mounted to a pole on the box blade. As the blade is pulled or pushed across the infield the system will automatically move the blade up or down to provide an accurate and consistent grade. How accurate? I like to see +/- 1/8 in.

Typically two different types of lasers are used. A dual slope laser grades in a slope or crown. These lasers are typically used to grade football and soccer fields, but can be used on baseball and softball fields, especially older fields. A conical laser grades in a cone. When a conical laser is used all three bases are at the same elevation. Conical lasers are the industry standard for new infield construction.

As was stated in the drainage post, infields should always be laser graded. After laser grading, especially in new construction, a survey referred to as an existing topographical survey should be taken and reviewed with the owner and contractor. This will assure the owner of the property that the surface was graded properly.

Why is all of this important? As the drainage post explains, surface drainage is the best and only way to effectively drain an infield. If there are irregularities in the grade, i.e. – “bird baths” water will hold in the areas and make the infield unplayable after rain events. Remember – water does not run uphill!

Always ask your grading contractor if they implement laser technology, and ask them to explain their grading plan to you before materials are moved on your playing surface.

Play on!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Infield Mixes, Vol. 4: Infield Drainage

There are three options for drainage: (1) subsurface, (2) surface and (3) subsurface with surface.

First up, let’s talk subsurface drainage, that is drainage tiles installed under the surface. Typically the trenches are backfilled with stone and then capped with infield mix. Simple enough, though there are two primary concerns.

One, basic soil science tells us that finer textured soil should not be placed over courser soil. Why? The finer textured soil must become fully hydrated before draining to a larger textured soil.

Two, if the infield is compacted correctly during construction/renovation and it contains the correct sand/silt/clay ratio, the infield is too firm to percolate any moisture. I have seen numerous examples of infield projects gone wrong when the local earthwork contractor attempts to install subsurface drainage on an infield.

Here’s a free tip that can save you money: typically what the infield needed was more infield mix to bring the infield to the correct grade.

The second drainage option is surface drainage. For me, this is the way to drain an infield. From the front edge to the back arc, .5% grade is all that is needed for an infield surface. 1% is too much as the topdressing on the infield tends to run off into the outfield grass during heavy rain events.

For softball, from the pitching rubber in all directions, .4% grade is all that is needed. Why the difference? Any grade more than .4% will provide a surface that appears to have a mound. As we all know, softball players do not like mounds on their fields. Another note on softball fields, .4% has to be consistent across the infield. I have fielded numerous calls on infield mixes and topdressing running off of infields an into dugouts/seating areas. One field in particular had a .4% around the mound, which is correct, but a 1% from the foul lines to the dugouts. It is the 1% that is causing the runoff during heavy rains.

As you can tell, a little variation in surface drainage can cause big problems. So, how do you ensure the correct surface drainage? Laser grading is the answer. Under ALL circumstances lasers should be used. The technology is the industry standard, do not accept anything less. Depending on your site, a conical or dual plane laser will be the tool of choice. (I will post a couple of laser and laser grading articles later this year.)

My advice? Forget all the subsurface drainage and make sure that your infield is laser graded frequently to .5% for baseball and .4% for softball.

Play on!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Infield Mixes, Vol. 3: EST/SCR


As the Head Groundskeeper at Victory Field, I can’t tell you how many times I heard this saying. “Well we don’t have the budget that you do at Victory Field!” Of course, most facilities do not have the budget of Victory Field. So, my goal was, how do we bring the materials that are used at the highest levels and apply them to all fields. EST/SCR is the answer.

EST simply stands for Engineered Soil Technology. EST is the process that computer blends materials. So, with the advent of EST, engineered soil manufacturers can computer blend amendments and mixes based on your field needs. In the past, what was used at Victory Field would not work at a city park. The lower sand content and higher clay content of the professional mixes become too difficult to manage for a parks system that has 1 person working on 5 fields. That’s a long way from the 8 I had working on the playing surface at Victory Field after games.

Now, with EST the same manufacturer can blend a mix that has 60% sand, typical in a professional setting, and also blend a mix that has 73% sand, typical with a recreational setting. Both mixes contain the same silt and clay. Thus, the technology that is used at the highest levels is now brought to all levels. How cool is that!

Another acronym that will become commonplace in the sports turf industry is SCR. SCR stands for silt/clay ratio. How do you figure out your SCR? Simply divide your silt by your clay.

For example: A mix contains 70% sand, 22% silt, and 8% clay.

The SCR is 22 divided by 8 = 2.75 SCR

As a rule of thumb, your SCR should be .5 – 1.0. What happens if your SCR is above 1.0? Your infield will be sloppy in the spring (i.e. the material pushes out of each side of your shoes as the step on a wet infield).

How about, low areas around your bases and a dusty infield when dry? Without even looking at the infield, I would bet that the SCR is greater than 2.5.

Most mixes native to Indiana do have an SCR of 2.5 or higher. What does that mean for your infield? If your SCR is 2.5+ it will play well in some but not all conditions. In other words, you will be re-scheduling games while those with an SCR of 1.0 will be playing.

Do you test your infield soil? What is your SCR? Why head into the 2010 season not knowing?

Play on!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Infield Mixes, Vol. 2: What Makes Up a Mix?

What makes a good infield mix? You hear it all the time. “Our infield mix is a 70/30.” That is another statement that is echoed frequently in the industry.
One of the reasons why the Smart Turf blog was created was to shed light on many issues in sports turf. What makes a good infield mix typically is at the top of the list of questions. So, let’s get to the bottom of the matter.

First of all, for years building and maintaining baseball/softball infields was considered an art. What one groundskeeper thought was a great infield, another thought it was a horrible infield. The process was subjective and creative. How many times have you heard, “I’m looking for some black dirt.” Or, “I’m looking for some red clay.” Times are changing and the tide is turning to science. Why? Simply stated, when the process is a science, soils are tested, results can be predictable, and replicable.

The infield mix profile consists of three components. The deepest part of the profile is a compacted native soil that is 3-6 inches below the surface. Next, the base soil exists. The base soil is the “meat” of the infield. The material is usually imported, compacted firmly, and has surface drainage. (more on drainage in another upcoming blog) Finally, 1/8-1/4 in of topdressing rests on the surface much like mulch in a landscaping. (more on topdressing in another upcoming blog)

So, what makes a good mix? A good mix has many characteristics, but the most important ones include: traction, playability, and consistency. A mix should provide consistent traction, the ability for athletes to play the game without sliding/slipping around the infield. The infield should play consistently in a variety of weather conditions. How many time have you heard, “I hope it doesn’t rain, we will be shut down for 3 days!” When all the characteristics are achieved, the infield is considered a “balanced soil.”

Infield mixes have three components, sand, silt, and clay. Sand, the largest soil particle, provides the structural integrity of the infield. The targeted range is 58-75% and over 50% of the sand should be retained on the medium sieve. Silt, the second largest soil particle, acts as a bridge between the sand and the clay. 10-35% is the acceptable range. Clay, the smallest soil particle, provides the color of the mix and retains moisture. 15-35% is the acceptable range. The take home message on silt/clay is that the ratio of silt/clay (SCR – more on that later) should NEVER be higher than 1:1.

Does your infield become very tacky after a rain? Does your infield blow around during periods of dry weather? Is your infield too beachy? What are your sand/silt/clay percentages of your infield? Testing is the only way to know!

Play on!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Infield Mixes, Vol. 1

The old baseball adage is that when everyone starts talking about the Super Bowl, baseball season must be close. Well, Super Bowl XLIV is a relatively big topic of conversation in Indianapolis and it is snowing outside, so what a better time to talk about infields!

Welcome to the first of a string of volumes regarding infield mixes for baseball and softball fields. The goal of this section of entries to the blog is to breakdown infields in the following manner:

1. Basic overview
2. What makes up mixes?
4. Drainage for infields?
5. Laser grade an infield?
6. Topdressing for infields?
7. How to add new infield material to existing material
8. Edging – In season and pre-season
9. “Lip” controls
10. Pre-season maintenance
11. In-season maintenance
12. Post-season maintenance

Let’s get moving, pitchers and catchers report to most big league camps in 25 days.

Play on!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sun Life Stadium Anyone?

From time to time, the Smart Turf blog will provide fun links to topical web sites. This time the link is a web cam for Sun Life Stadium, the site of Super Bowl XLIV in Miami. The camera can be a little unreliable at times, but nonetheless it is a site to follow. Be sure to click the "Time Lapse" button below the still photo to follow the field conversion from the Pro Bowl field to Super Bowl Sunday.
Play on!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

STMA, INPRA, and Indiana Baseball Coaches

Well, to be honest it is good to be back home. Orlando was in the midst of a record cold snap. In fact, it must have froze my camera! So, sorry no pictures from the trip. All in all it was a good show. The best topic was some new testing/technology that I will writing about more as the year progresses. Engineered Soil Technology (EST) is a system that in my opinion will be common infield mix speak within the next 1-3 years. With that technology comes the SCR. Do you know what your SCR is? Simply put, divide your silt by your clay and you have your silt to clay ratio (SCR). I will post more on this and other infield mix topics over the next couple of weeks as I breakdown infields as opening day for Major League Baseball approaches.

The J&D Turf staff will be at the Indiana Park and Rec Show on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, and at the Indiana Baseball Coaches Clinic on Thursday and Friday. If you attend either show, please stop by the booth and say hi!

Play on!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Indiana Green Expo 2010

Despite inclement weather last Thursday and Friday, the Indiana Green Expo was a success. Over 1,000 members attended the educational events and the trade show at the Indiana Convention Center. J&D Turf hosted a booth as well.

Wednesday, I am heading south to Orlando, FL for the national Sports Turf Managers Association conference. My trip includes a tour of a few spring training complexes on Friday in Tampa/St. Pete. Check back later this week for photos.

After Orlanda, next up are the Indiana Park and Rec Conference, Jan 20-21, and the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Conference, Jan 21-23.

If you'll be at any of the shows, drop me a line. We can connect and talk turf.

Play on!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Petco Park

You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer stadium in Major League Baseball than Petco Park in San Diego. Not only is the playing surface top notch, the location, weather and other amenities really make the field stand out.
In San Diego in December, I stopped by the park as I always do when in a Big League town to satisfy my need for anything baseball…especially in the off season. If you ever get the chance to catch a game there, be sure to walk a lap around the concourse and you’d be surprised to find a T-Ball diamond positioned just beyond the fence in leftfield. Open when the team is not at home and accessible for a nominal gate fee during home games, the area is meant for fans and visitors to enjoy a game where the pros play.
Best yet, the field is kept by the Padres groundscrew, led by head groundskeeper Luke Yoder. He uses polymer coated infield mix and mound clay, to eliminate the need for water, and bermudagrass overseeded with perennial ryegrass for the infield and outfield.

Play on!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Talking Turf

A quick note on a great opportunity this week to discuss and listen to the latest in sports turf. The Indiana Green Expo is taking place at the Indiana Convention Center on Thursday January 7. Here are some of the highlights you won’t want to miss.

Mitch McClary, Head Groundskeeper with the Fort Wayne Tin Caps. Mitch will look back at his first year with the team, the Single-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, and the first year for the new Parkview Field.

Andy Gossel, AD at Covenant Christian. Andy will detail how he hosts over 275 events on two natural grass fields. If you have not seen Andy’s fields, they are some of the best in Indiana!

Mike Goatley, Ph.D, Virgina Tech. Dr. Goatley will talk about the latest research on bermudagrass. Can it work in Indiana?

Cale Bigelow, Ph.D, Purdue University. Dr. Bigelow will lay out fertilizer programs for athletic fields.

Mike Boekholder, Head Groundskeeper at Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies). Once my boss at Victory Field, Mike will share the ins and outs of the grind of his MLB season that extended through the World Series.

And me. I will explain infield mixes for baseball and softball fields. How does the sand/silt/clay composition affect playability of your infield?

As you can see, it will be a great day to talk with others about sports turf at all levels. Go to for all the details.

Play on!