Thursday, February 27, 2014

Rolling Natural Grass Infields

I am getting a number of calls on rolling fields after the snow melt.  

Due to significant frost heave during the winter, rolling newly seeded fields will be critical this spring to lessen to chance of winter damage from the plants being raised within the soil profile.  

Bottom line, if the field is wet (ie - you can hear and or see water on the turf) DO NOT roll the field.  I drove by a field this morning that had standing water in the outfield and it was being rolled with a 1 1/2 ton roller.  Rolling a field when completely saturated has a great chance of causing serious compaction issues. 

HERE is a great article about rolling athletic fields from Buckeye Turf notes from Ohio State.

Go to to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Winter Damage to Bermudagrass?

That is the question many grounds managers are asking across the Midwest.  So, I went to a site with newly seeded Riviera bermudagrass last week, and here are my findings:

First step - pull a sample core:

Remove core:

Close-up look at core - notice the green stems:

Individual stem illustrating green plant material:

Long story short, even after one of the coldest and snowiest winters in history, the bermudagrass is still viable.  With that said, we are not out of the woods yet as the late winter/early spring can cause just as much if not more damage if the weather warms too quickly followed by freezing temps.  The health of this field will be monitored closely the next 6-8 weeks or until spring green up.

Go to to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Melting Snow - How Do I Get My Infield Ready to Play?

Currently, many areas across the Midwest are melting down snow from the snowiest winter from the Dec-Feb time period since weather has been recorded.

So, the question is, "How do we get our baseball and softball fields ready for play?"  The answer really depends on the type of infield mix and the maintenance and condition of the field before the snow.

First, DO NOT get in a hurry to play.  I understand that the season in short, but is it really worth compromising the grade of your field to get in one practice or game? 

If the decision is made to plow the field, take the necessary precautions.  HERE is an article from the Sports Turf Managers Association on removing snow from athletic fields.

Once the snow has cleared/melted, most infields should be rolled from the snow event and the winter freeze/thaw cycle.  To determine if the field can be rolled, simply walk across the surface, if the field settled under foot, but does not stick the bottom of you shoe, it can be rolled.

Infield ready to roll:

Infield NOT ready to roll:

If the field has not been conditioned, please take this time after rolling to condition the infield.  How much conditioner should be added?  ClickHERE to see the correct depth of conditioners.

Finally, this is another time where there is tremendous benefit of using an engineered soil as your infield mix.

Look for additional information on rolling infield in a future blog post.

Go to to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Removing Snow From a Playing Surface

Many areas of the country are under snow cover from a cold and snowy winter.  In fact, this winter Indianapolis, IN has received more snow that any other winter in the history of recording weather data.  

With that said, spring sports are beginning or are just around the corner.  A question I have received a couple times this past week was, "How do I remove snow from my field?"

The answer:

Simply, take a tarp drum and strap it to a tractor bucket.  Now you have a plow that will not cause damage to the turf.  (I took this photo while visiting University of Kentucky last spring - thanks to Marcus Dean for taking time to visit)

With that said, there are many additional ways to remove snow, the Sports Turf Managers Association has released a publication on Removing Snow From a Playing Surface.

Good luck to those groundskeepers and coaches looking to get their fields ready this season.

Go to to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter Education Vol 11 - Installing a New Homeplate

Installing a new plate can be challenging.  At higher levels of play it is not uncommon to call in a surveyor to assist in aligning a new plate.  Home plate is where the entire layout of the field begins.  If the plate is off center or twisted, foul poles, bases, the mound, etc will be out of alignment.  At the college, high school and recreational levels a surveyor is not needed.  How does this work?  Let's go through it step by step:

Step 1:  Run string lines from the foul poles through the existing home plate.  Carry this string past the plate.

Step 2: Next, run a string from the apex of home plate through the middle of the pitchers rubber and the second base anchor.

Step 3:  All three strings are set, let pull out the existing plate.

As you can see, this plate was twisted slightly.  Also, make sure all sting line are tight.  Here is the completed plate.

Notice the new mound clay around the plate.  The next steps are to check the bases and the pitchers rubber for the correct distances and alignment.   That we be another post for another day.  As you can see, NEVER remove a plate without installing a new plate at the same time.

Thanks to Marian University for the assistance in replacing their plate on the softball field.

To learn more about Marian Athletics, click HERE.

Click HERE to see the proper distances for baseball and softball fields, courtesy of Diamond Pro.

Go to to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Winter Education Vol. 10 - Building a New Backstop Wall and Net

I have received a number of calls over the winter looking at the possibility of constructing a new backstop wall and installation of a new backstop netting system.  A typical netting and wall system that is engineered to withstand wind, snow, and ice loads can run in the range of $30,000 - $60,000 depending on the size and finishings.  Below is a brief recap of a project J&D Turf completed in 2013.  

J&D Turf worked with Greensburg High School to complete the design, engineering and installation process for their new backstop wall, net, and padding. 

The goals were the following:

  • Improved slight lines.
  • Improved protection for fans by increasing the net height between the dugout to 25 ft.
  • Overall, a better look for the field.

Here are a few photos:

The backstop before:

The backstop before the wall padding was added.  Notice the bottom of the net was stretched and laced to fit using coated twine:

The finished product:

The Pirates now have a netting system that will last, and improved slight lines and safety for all spectators.

Are you looking into a new wall and netting system for your playing surface?  Please let us know, we will be happy to assist in the design and installation to ensure a successful project.

Go to to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Winter Education Vol 9 - Renovating a Plate on a Budget

As you can see from previous blog postings, J&D Turf travels to fields and facilities of all levels of play. Our company view is "Provide safe and playable fields for athletes of all ages and abilities." With this in mind, yesterday the J&D Turf crew was at Avon South Middle School renovating a home plate area. Obviously, with this being a middle school field, funds were limited. So, we renovated the home plate area on a shoestring budget. How did we do it? See below:

The photo below shows the installation of a new homeplate. It is difficult to see the string lines from each existing foul pole in the photo. The elevation of the homeplate was set via a laser to ensure positive drainage, i.e. - rain water will not run back onto the plate.

The next step was edging the plate. The plate was edged at a 15 foot radius. You can see the dashed painted lines showing the 15 ft mark. This field was not used for 10 years, so the edges are still a little inconsistent, but after all, sodding was not in the budget. Photos of before and after the edging below:

After edging, bring on the clay. For this project we used Dura Pitch Mound Clay from the Natural Sand Company. We only had 40 bags for this project, so we concentrated on the batters and catchers boxes, and added the remainder around the plate.

After adding the clay, bring on the tiller. A smaller tiller is just fine for this type of wrok to till the new material into the existing material to a depth of 3 inches.

After tilling, bring on the board! We used a 16ft long 2x6 to level the plate. One edge of the board was on the plate, the other edge of the board on our newly created grass edge. Three passes were made to ensure positive drainage.

Next, the plate was tire rolled. This is simply, using the weight of equipment to compact the soil. Ideally, the use of a three ton roller is the best application, but after all, we were on a budget!

After tire rolling, a quick rake and mat drag competed the plate.

Calcined clay topdressing was not added for this project due to the limited budget, but ideally 3-5 bags would be advised to topdress the plate area to a depth of 1/4 in.

The bottom line is, this process is not recommended at the higher levels of play, but if you have a couple of hours and a limited budget, there is an answer!

To learn more about Dura Pitch Mound Clay, click HERE

Go to to learn more about J&D Turf

Play on!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Winter Education Vol 8 - Renovating a Mound on a Budget

Off to Avon South Middle School for renovating a mound on a budget. For this task, we had 50 bags of Dura Pitch Mound Clay and a new Jack Corbett 4-sided pitching rubber to install. A picture of the mound before we started this process is below

After tending to the edges (see renovating a home plate on a budget post for edging details) the task was to install the new pitching rubber 10 inches above home plate and making sure it was centered and square. The pitching rubber should be 60 ft 6 in from the apex of homeplate and each corner of the pitching rubber should be 59 ft 1 in from the corresponding front corners of the homeplate. Also, you will see a string line from the apex of homeplate to the middle of second base. The pitching rubber is center on the string line. To learn more about setting a pitching rubber click HERE.

After setting the pitchers rubber, the clay was added, once again with the concentration being on the slope of the mound, keeping in mind that we had limited clay due to the limited budget

Next, the new mound clay was tilled into the existing material

The mound was then sloped to spec - (i.e. - 6 inches in front of the mound was level with the pitchers rubber, and then falling one inch for every foot for the next six feet. To learn more about sloping a mound click HERE. A photo of the slope is below

After sloping the mound and building the table we boarded the rest of the mound in a similar fashion to the plate. Then we tire rolled the entire surface.

To see pictures of the tire rolling a homeplate and boarding of the plate click HERE and HERE.

1 1/2 hrs later, we have a renovated mound on a budget!

The bottom line is, with the correct planning and the right materials, you can renovate a mound and plate on a very limited budget. Cost of the materials for both projects - $920.

Play on!