Monday, May 23, 2016

Backstop Wall Drainage - Channel Drains

Back to the topic of drainage.  In this post, we look at drainage along a backstop wall.  Often, a new brick or solid surface wall is constructed with little to no consideration to drainage.  Obviously, a solid wall will need drainage to move water.  A french drain can be installed, but I prefer not to have gravel on the surface of a warning track or full infield softball surface as illustrated below.

The best option is a channel drain.

Let’s go the the MLB/P&G Cincinnati Reds Urban Youth Academy.  The complex constructed in fall 2013 and opened in spring 2014.  The goal of the installation was to ensure water moved off the warning track.  Channel drains were installed and tied into the drainage from the wall.  Finally a heel proof cover was added.  Problem solved!  To be clear, the drainage supplier was requiring that the drain be installed with 4 inches of concrete on both sides of the drain in the event of a vehicle driving over the drain.  Needless to say, this was removed due to the fact that you cannot drive over the drain.  No issues after 2+ years of play/maintenance.

Go to to learn more about J&D Turf. 

Play on!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

#LifeOnTheRoad - Drainage Along Concrete Surfaces

Many times during my travels I am asked, “What is the best way to drain water from hard surfaces?”

Well, let me illustrate a way to drain water, and a way to collect water.

First, let’s look at a bleacher pad next to a youth football field.  Concrete installers are famous for ensuring “their” concrete is at the highest elevation.  No matter that it will/could back up water from the 1.5% crown.

In this example, a french drain was installed and tied into a storm structure.  Finally the line was backfilled with washed stone.  Problem solved.

The second example was at the youth baseball field at the same complex.  Currently a french drain has not been installed, you can clearly see the results of the concrete installation.

Bottom line, when installing concrete, be sure to allow/account for drainage.

Go to to learn more about J&D Turf

Play on!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

UPDATED: Infield Mixes: What Makes Up A Mix?

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 poor 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 and results can be predictable, and replicable.

Three components of good infield mix:
  1. The deepest part of the profile is a compacted native soil sub base that is 3-6 inches below the surface.
  2. The infield mix exists. The mix is the “meat” of the infield. The material is usually engineered, imported, compacted firmly, and has surface drainage.
  3. 3.1/8-1/4 inch of topdressing rests on the surface much like mulch.
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 should NEVER be higher than 1:1.

So, what makes a good mix? Three important factors: 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.”

Play on!

Download the printable Smart Turf sheet - Infield Mixes: What Makes Up a Mix?

The original post can be viewed here. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

#LifeOnTheRoad - University of Indianapolis Tarp Storage

This is another post in a periodic series entitled #LifeOnTheRoad.  The background is simple. During my travels I encounter many grounds managers/coaches doing great things.  Because of this, I have started this series.  The goal - expose more grounds managers, coaches, architects, etc to areas of facility and sports turf maintenance that may be implemented to their facility/design.

Today we head to the softball facility at University of Indianapolis.   This design allows for tarp storage to be off the playing surface to create a safer playing surface

Go to to learn more about J&D Turf

Play on!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

UPDATED: How to: Add New Mix to Existing Mix

I get this question all of the time so I figured I would show the process with photos. The J&D Turf crew added new infield mix to the existing infield at Huntington Park in Columbus, OH with the Head Groundskeeper, Wes Ganobcik, and his crew.

First, the addition of Field Saver 50 from the Natural Sand Company was applied with a topdresser. The FS 50 increased the medium sand content while also increasing the clay content and improving the SCR of the mix.

The next step is to blecavate/till the existing mix into the new mix. This is often the overlooked step in this process. It is time consuming, but necessary to ensure good soil bonding.

Tilling the mixes
Following this, roll the infield using a three ton roller. The photo below shows the size difference between a 1 1/2 ton roller and a 3 ton roller. The smaller 1 1/2 ton roller is a good choice to settle frost heave - i.e - right now and the start of every spring and the 3 ton roller is needed after blecavating/tilling. A 3 ton roller is necessary to compact the infield and to ensure limited/no settling.

Rolling an infield
After rolling, begin laser grading.

Laser grading
Laser grading
The finished infield (above) included use of a conical laser on the mound. The infield was graded at a .4% cone for the mound in all directions, from the front of the infield to the back arc. This is the ideal infield surface grade.

Play on!

Download the printable Smart Turf sheet - How to: Add New Mix to Existing Mix

The original post can be viewed here