Originally posted by Bulldog 19:
The warning track was done poorly at the beginning. I'm pretty sure they did ]the entire thing in a day if that tells you anything. There was no plastic put down, no grass killed beforehand, etc. Our coach has sprayed it and sprayed it and sprayed it. We also used to drag the warning track using the teeth drag. Now he just lets it go because he fought it for so long and it was a losing battle.
There’s no doubt the initial way it was prepared will always have an effect on its maintenance forever. And, there’s also no doubt that no matter what anyone does in an open area like a ball field, weeds are gonna grow! Seeds get blown in on the wind, tracked in on peoples shoes, and of course brought in on contaminated equipment, including tires.
I’m sure not raggin’ on anyone here, but rather attempting to explain what might happened, and what might be a reasonable way to mitigate the problem. By far and above, the best way to keep weeds out of places like tracks, base paths, or other areas that are supposed to be free of all plat growth, is to do as much as possible to keep weeds down from all around it.
FI, no matter what you do to keep a place “weed free”, like the track, if you allow weeds to grow all over the OF, there’s no way in the world to keep the weeds from growing on the track. So, to keep down the weeds in places like that, control the weeds all over the field. The trouble with that philosophy is, a ball filed and the area surrounding it make up an immense area, easily 2-4 acres for 1 field.
In order to control weeds in an area that large, it takes lots of time, equipment, and most of all, $$$$$$! Too many people see it like their front yard, and wonder why $20 worth of chemicals every year won’t take care of the problem. But, its more like a well kept golf course! Didja ever wonder why it cost $50-$150 to play a well maintained course?
Although chemicals is the easiest and fastest way to abate weeds, there’s a much cheaper way. Frequent mowings with the mowing height set to what the seed supplier recommends. Here’s a rule of thumb. Never cut more than 1/3 of the grasses height. You can’t mow once a week and meet that rule, so right away you’ve got an added expense. But if you could, what would that do to keep the weeds down? It wouldn’t allow many of the weeds time to produce seeds! Fewer seeds, fewer unwanted weeds.
If time and money were no object, something else that would help is, proper irrigation and fertilizer. Why? Plants tend to go to seed as a defense mechanism. So, when they’re under stress, they’ll go to seed more. Also, the more vigorous the good grass you want is, the more it will choke out weeds. Plus, like any other plant, weeds need 3 things to grow. Sunlight, water, and food. That’s why you very often see weeds growing on bare or thin spots in turfgrass.
But if weed seeds land someplace like on a track, there’s nothing to keep them from getting sunlight. Plus, if the irrigation is set up without regard to where its watering, or if you live where there’s lots of rain, that’s the second thing it needs. As far as food goes, remember, a seed is the food source for sprouting plants. If you spread grass seed on concrete and water it, guess what’ll happen? But, the grass would eventually die because the roots couldn’t get nutrients. On a place like the track, although it may not look like it, there’s lots of nutrients there, and as soon as the roots get to them, its Katy bar the door!
So, what you have to do is make it so that #1, those seeds won’t sprout, pre-emergent. Then make it so there’s as little water as possible, correct irrigation. And finally, stay on top of the weed murdering using chemicals. Even the quickest growing weeds need 5-10 days to germinate. So, if someone walked the track with a sprayer once a week killing of the new sprouts, it would be a major improvement.
Sorry. I do get carried away, don’t I. But don’t take my word for anything! Approach any College Ag Dept, or get friendly with any golf course maintenance superintendent in your area. Those guys are doing what you want to do time 1,000, and they generally know their business.
Originally posted by Bulldog 19: We've added dirt to that particular spot several times. I'm not sure if we haven't gotten dirt that is moved back toward the outfield grass which has caused the water to not drain out and off the infield dirt that way. This year a couple of times our coach cut a trench into the grass and he said that water would just gush out of there. We do have drainage pipes that run parallel with the baselines in front of the dugouts. At this point, installing additional drainage pipes would take so much time that I don't see them doing it for one season.
I can certainly understand not wanting to invest precious resources in a filed that won’t be used any longer! If you’ve added that much soil and its gotten worse, or at least no better, what it sounds like is that the problem area wasn’t properly defined. That would mean some of the soil wasn’t added to the problem area.
Here’s another rule-of-thumb. If you have a low spot, do whatever’s necessary to identify it entirely. FI, if you go out in the middle of a storm or flood the area with a hose, you’ll see what appears to be a small lake. You don’t add fill in the entire lake(depression), but rather starting in a small place in the middle, then adding fill in an ever increasing area.
Think of it like a bulls eye. Unless you had great equipment like a laser level, what you’d want to do is add your new soil only inside the triple ring. Then keep gradually adding soil until that area stays above the water when the area’s flooded. Then, you slowly increase how far from the center you add the soil, being careful not to keep adding it to the high point in the center. Depending on the grass type and the weather, it shouldn’t take more than few weeks to raise a 3 inch depression 30 feet in diameter.
If you don’t need that information now, keep it in mind because no matter what happens, the new field will have depressions too.
Originally posted by Bulldog 19: I liked the dirt basepaths too and I think our coach does too, but it has gotten to the point that everytime he turns around something needs to be done on the basepaths.
I’ll be the 1st one to admit that top notch base paths take work, but that’s the price of having a beautiful field. Most of the secret is to not wait too long before something needs done. Also, its important to routinely get in there with the toothed drag and get that soil broken up. It would be nice to be able to go down an few inches, but most fields don’t have that much infield mix on them to start with, and all that will happen is that rocks and native soil will be brought up.
Originally posted by Bulldog 19: Homeplate had sunk significantly. From the dugouts, you could not even see homeplate. I wonder if you could from the mound. We found when we pulled it out that the homeplate was actually broken; the padding inside of the plate was coming out of the bottom. There was a big hole that we filled in some and then we added more dirt to the homeplate area because it was a low spot on the field as well. The area needed dirt added to bring it up to the level of the grass in front of the plate.
That’s what I was hopin’. Believe it or not, I’ve seen fields where they raise the plate rather than lower the stupid mound if the mound’s too high. At our local field, I had to do just the opposite. When they built our fields, they put a pretty good slope on them for drainage. So what was happening, was people were whining and crying about our mounds being too low. I even got those people out there with the laser level and showed them the rubber on the big field was exactly 10” above the plate, but they wouldn’t have any of it.
Here’s how bad it was sloped. I checked the height of the IF dirt as it met the OF grass down the 3rd base line and it was the same as the plate. But when I did the same thing down the 1st base line, a point touching the OF grass on the 1st base line was 32”! So, even with no mound at all, the grass where the rubber should have been was already well over 6”.
I couldn’t get the dummies to understand that by the rules, I couldn’t just raise the mound because that would be cheating. But, what I talked them into, was raising the entire HP area 8”. Once that was done, all I had to do was raise the mound until it was back to 10”. In the end, the only thing that was accomplished was it LOOKED
better, but it got them off my back!
Obviously if your HP had sunk, unless ya’ll made the appropriate changes to the mound height, you allowed the field to get way outside of the rules. Scary huh?
Originally posted by Bulldog 19: We used to have a baseball booster club and they were great with the funds they had. Now we have one sports booster club for the entire school and things just don't work the way they used to. Our booster club is great; just things are different now.
Isn’t it sad how things have gotten so bad, a HS coach has to depend on the generosity of the parents rather than the budget of the school? In our school district, 5 years ago the entire baseball program, all 3 teams, fields, umpires, travel, equipment and coach pay, was $2,500. With balls costing $5 a pop and ups here getting $65 per game plus mileage, the budget doesn’t go very far. Some districts are much better off, but many are worse.;(
Originally posted by Bulldog 19: Our current basepaths are about 6-7 feet wide.. wide enough for both the teeth drag and the screen drag to go through there and he often does. I've got to disagree about the rakes, but sure dragging it does look great if it's done right.
Its ok if you disagree about the rakes. I know I can do a pretty good job with a landscaper’s rake, but I’ve been doing this stuff for over 30 years and know how to use a rake. I can’t say the same for most HS baseball players who are trying to get the field spruced up after a game or practice so they can go home.
Originally posted by Bulldog 19: Right now we're just hoping to have water out there!
You’ve gotta get together now and make sure you get it! There’s not many things as hard on a ball field as a scorching Mo summer!
Originally posted by Bulldog 19: [I] I think the baseball field and softball field are going to be located in close proximity to the football field so it would be my guess that they will use bathrooms there.
Kool! I have to walk with a can and braces, and can tell you that there are some HS ball fields where the parking is just on my limit, and being 61, I can tell you the old bladder doesn’t last nearly as long as it used to. I need those facilities close!
Originally posted by Bulldog 19:I don't think it's a matter of being poorly maintained, but rather a matter of there's only so much one man can do. Pretty much the only thing our coach doesn't do is cut the grass. School district maintenance does that. But he does anything on the infield, the mound, etc.
I think its pretty much the same for most HS coaches. My boy’s coach made the players do a great deal of field maintenance, and there were “work parties” at the beginning of the spring season(Jan-Feb), and again around the middle of the season. If that didn’t happen I hate to think of how the field would have looked.
The thing is, unlike football, basketball, and Kommie Kickball, baseball fields need a lot care and attention than the others, plus they’re usually in their highest use periods for HS baseball in the very worst weather of the year! Its really difficult!
I sure wish your team the very best when moving into their new home! Post some pics when you can!