March 2015

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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Field Science 8 SportsTurf | March 2015 Larry DiVito, Minnesota twins When you are building a mound from scratch or doing a substantial renova- tion, it is vital that you first consider your infield turfgrass. If it is a new construction, make sure to set your home plate and pitching rubber loca- tions and elevations well in advance of any finish work on the rootzone. You will want to transport all of the mate- rial to the mound efficiently without causing changes in your field grade or contaminating your rootzone material with spilled mound clay. If doing a renovation, think about how to get material off of and to the mound without wearing a traffic path on your turfgrass. This may entail pick- ing up and rotating flooring to vary the route to and from the mound. Finally, buy some bender board to use as a tem- porary border around the mound circle. This will keep clay from migrating into the rootzone during your project. While you can build and compact the base of the mound out of your stock of infield mix, it is important to not skimp on mound clay in the critical areas around the pitching rubber and in the landing area. Generally, if mounds are maintained regularly and tarped when not in use, a solid 4 inches of mound clay will be adequate to build up these areas. Personally, I like to set the landing area with about 6 inches of clay for sta- bility at the professional level. If the product you choose to use is not ready to go out of the bag, it is bet- ter to blend and moisturize the clay in another area first, then bring it to the mound with wheelbarrows. Always tamp and compact in lifts, no more than 2 inches of depth at a time. To ensure stability in the mound right away, you want to avoid any air pockets as you pack the clay. Ideally, you would work the clay in two or three lifts and then finish with a quarter-inch top layer as you hand grade your slope to the rulebook specifica- tions. If you have good clay, good people, and well-built, 8-inch square tamps, you can renovate a mound without a plate compactor. The most important factor is seeing that you have the moisture right with your clay. As you add material, be sure the base clay is slightly moister than the product you are adding. Also, before each layer I like to scarify the base mate- rial with a sharp rake or hand tool so the new clay will bond to it. Clay mix selection will depend on various factors. You will need to check with your local vendors to find what is available and will continue to be around for you in the future. While bagged material may cost a bit more than bulk product, you can expect much less waste Advice on building And mAintAining pitching mounds Editor's note: We asked several MLB and MiLB groundskeepers for their thoughts on building and maintaining baseball pitching mounds. Here is their advice: Packing a softball mound at Troy University, Troy, AL. Photo courtesy of Glenn Lucas, Southern Athletic Fields.

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