Ways to Attack a Wet Infield

Your first order of business...

After a rain event, you need to remove any standing water. The less water that is allowed to deeply penetrate the infield soil, the faster you can turn the field around and get it back to playable. Your best bet is using a tool like a puddle pump or a puddle pillow/sponge.

When using a puddle pump, find the deepest spot of the puddle or dig a small hole that you can rest the pump in to suck up the water. A piece of filter fabric over the pump will prevent silt or other soil material from getting up into the pump. Run a hose from the pump out to the outfield grass and pump as much water as you can off the infield skin.

The pillow sponge works faster than you think...

It seems so simple that it’s hard to believe it works as well as it does. But a puddle pillow or puddle sponge can be very effective at removing standing water. Obviously, using a broom or squeegee is a bad idea and the puddle sponge can remove water with minimal disturbance of your topdressing or soil.

Just lay the sponge in the puddle, apply pressure with your hands or feet, and then release to allow the sponge to absorb the water. Move the sponge to a different spot and repeat until the sponge is saturated. Then, take the sponge to your outfield grass or off the field completely to wring out the collected water. Return to the puddles to absorb more water. You can also use absorbent chemical pillows, but those tend to be a one-time shot for absorption.

Watch the video on the next slide for puddle sponge demonstration.

Removing standing water with a puddle sponge...

Using a drying agent...

After you have removed all of the standing water from your infield skin, you can apply a thin coat of drying agent where the water had been. Typically a drying agent will be a calcined clay material.

Spread some drying agent out over the wet area, then lightly rake the drying agent into the wet areas to allow it to help with absorbing remaining moisture. You can repeat this procedure on other areas that are soft or wet.

Watch the video on the next slide for more about drying agents and how to use them.

Applying a drying agent...

Speed drying with "back raking"...

If your field is still somewhat soft where you’re only leaving slight foot impressions, you will want to scarify the wet areas by hand to allow them to open up and breathe. You don’t want to bring your motorized scarifying drags out on a soft infield, that will likely do more damage than its worth with tires digging in.

Instead use the back raking technique for scarifying. Using an iron rake, you’ll rake in the opposite direction than you typically do. Rather than pulling the rake toward you, push the rake away with light down pressure. This will prevent wet soil from collecting (see picture). Pushing away let’s you scarify about a quarter- to half-inch deep and opens up the soil and exposes more surface area, allowing it dry faster.

After the soil has dried, come back and cross cut in the opposite direction — again, scarifying with the “back raking” technique.

Watch the video on the next slide to see how back raking is done.

Back raking for better drying...

Finish grooming after drying...

Once the soil or topdressing has had a chance to dry sufficiently, you can finish grooming. Use a cocoa mat or steel mat drag to smooth the surface.

If the ground is still a little damp, you may want to hand drag the area just to be safe rather than using a tractor. If you encounter some areas that are still a bit wet, you should apply more drying agent. Depending up on how wet the areas still are, you can apply drying agent either before or after you drag the infield.

Let's review removal of standing water...

Now you’ve seen what to do after rain event. So log in to try this Pop Quiz to make sure you have the basics for removing standing water and drying your infield.

But what about preventing standing water? We’ll take a look at that in the next lesson.

Back to: Introduction to Groundskeeping > 108. Rainfall Rescues