Proper Ways to Rake and Drag a Field
Proper raking and dragging techniques help to reduce the formation of a grass lip on an infield edge. Always rake with a grass edge not into it, and avoid pulling infield material into the grass edge. When dragging the infield, stay at least six inches away from the grass edge. This will help reduce the amount of infield material moving into grass edges. I have always found hand tools to be more effective than a motorized field drag. A screen drag, nail drag, and infield leveling rakes are a basic set of tools for proper infield care. I generally use a hand screen drag on the infield skin and warning track, and a hand rake on baselines, infield cutouts, pitching mound, and home plate.
Proper Way to Dry an Infield Skin
First if your budget allows, laser grade the infield skin periodically. Keeping the correct slope on an infield skin will drastically improve drainage by allowing surface water to drain off. Over time low areas will develop on your infield skin from a result of play. In turn, water will collect in any low areas. When dealing with standing water, first try to remove as much as possible. Puddle pillows are a good tool for this. Place the pillows in the puddle and soak up the water. Ring the pillows out and repeat the process. Next, use calcine clay to soak up the remaining water. Calcine can be spread with a rake or spreader. Always use calcine clay to soak water, stay away from products labeled as quick dry. Quick dry products are generally smaller in size and if used over time will clog the pores in the soil creating an area that will actually drain slower. Nail dragging is also an effective technique to dry an infield skin. Nail dragging will open the skin to allow air and sunlight in to help aid in the drying process.
If an afternoon or evening game is scheduled:
- Remove the standing water using puddle pillows.
- Add calcine clay to the surface and work into wet areas with a hand rake.
- Nail drag the entire skin and let sit until close to game time.
- Before pregame is to begin, lay additional calcine clay.
- Finish with a screen drag.
Preparing / Watering an Infield Skin Before a Game
Preparing an infield skin is all based on weather and current conditions. Different techniques are used depending on if a field is wet or dry. Maintaining proper moisture in an infield is directly related to how it will play. A properly cared for infield is rolled and watered to compact the surface and keep it together during a game. Rolling provides the compaction and water is the glue that keeps the material together. These tips focus on pregame and dry field preparation.
- Use screen drag and hand rake to prepare skin prior to game.
- Once field is raked out, lightly water skin to keep infield material in place. The amount of water used is related to how dry the infield mix is. In a perfect situation, the infield mix should have the same moisture content throughout the entire profile.
Every situation is different and infield management of this extent is not practical in every situation. If you have access to water, use it to keep the dust down and your infield material held together.
Source: Field Maintenance Tips: What You Can Do to Improve the Playability, Durability of Your Little League® Field - Little League