The rain factor...
A properly constructed and well maintained field will successfully shed rainfall and minimize down time. But the characteristics of the rain will also factor in to how quickly teams get back on the field.
A hard, driving rain that doesn’t last very long can compact the infield soil. Many times your field will drain well because the pounding rain and compaction will not allow much water to soak in and you can get back to playing fairly quickly. On the other hand, a steady soaking rain over several hours can deeply soften the field and it may take several hours of sun and a breeze to get the field back to playable.
The Effects of Rainfall.
Rain will expose any flaws...
Your field maintenance practices will effect how a skinned infield handles rain. Actually, rain will clearly show you where improper maintenance is occurring.
For example, puddles along the back edge of the infield are caused by a lip forming at the grass edge. Either routine lip removal is not being performed, or improper dragging is bringing drags too close to the edge.
Another problem can be a very soft infield after rain. This can be caused by nail dragging too deep (more than a 1/2 inch) which allows it to hold much more water rather than letting it drain off. A really soft infield after rain may also be attributed to improper soil being used. Soil with high silt or fine sand content — or, worse yet, both — will cause serious issues with soil stability after a rainfall for an extended time compared with properly balanced infield soils.
High wear and poor surface grade...
A couple other causes of poor drainage in your infield are high wear areas — around the bases, infielder positions, and home plate — and a poor surface grade overall.
In the high wear areas you should pay special attention to the formation of low spots where soil is displaced. This can happen from routine game play and soil and topdressing needs to be pulled back into these areas to avoid puddling and poor draining.
If you are experiencing widespread puddling on the infield, poor surface grade is likely a major contributor. Over time your surface has degraded and improper dragging techniques could be causing a bowl effect that contributes to the problem.
(See Module 104 for proper game day prep.)
Give it time...
A very common mistake is made after rain. Overeager groundskeepers often make the mistake of coming back on to the field too soon, before it has adequately firmed.
By simply walking onto the field you can tell how firm it is by how deep your footprints are. Bringing equipment onto the field too soon while it’s still soft will only create more work and longer delays.
BOTTOM LINE: if your foot sinks in, be patient. Let Mother Nature do her thing with sun and wind so the field firms up before you get back onto the field.
Be patient, don't get back on too soon...
Save the broom for when it's dry...
Another common mistake? Pushing water off the field. It happens a lot. Coaches get antsy and start pushing standing water off the field with brooms and squeegees. The only problem is they push a lot of soil and topdressing off with it.
Not only are low spots in the infield a result, the soil that is pushed off ends up in the turf edges. Why is that a problem? Well, remember lips? This contributes to lip formation and interferes with proper runoff. There are better ways to remove water, and we’ll show you those in the next section.
So, that's what NOT to do...
Now let’s take a look at what to do. But first, you should review this lesson about the effects of rain and common mistakes.
Log in to try this Pop Quiz before we take a look at what you can do after a substantial rain event.