March 2017

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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14 SportsTurf | March 2017 FIELD SCIENCE BRITT BARRY, SPORTS TURF MANAGER, DAYTON DRAGONS SportsTurf: Once you have a mound built the way you want it, and regularly maintain it, how long do you expect it to last before you have to start over? Or is the idea to build it right at the beginning so you rarely have to rebuild the entire mound? Barry: If you correctly build a mound the first time, you shouldn't need to rebuild unless you're switching materials or need it removed for a special event. In the worst-case scenario, you may need to dig down a few inches and replace an area of clay brick by the rubber or landing area, but with new mound clays advancing the durability, the need for this would be very rare. SportsTurf: Are there any alternatives to clay-based soils (bricks) for mounds that will hold up to regular use? Barry: I feel like bricks are still the best base in the high wear areas, but consistent repair work and patching with quality bagged mound clay should eliminate the need to replace them regularly. SportsTurf: Are there any relatively quick and easy steps a K-12 or Parks/Rec turf manager can take to get his mounds to the correct height with proper slope? Barry: A mound gauge can be easily made with cheap materials. This is the easiest way to check the slopes of mounds in an efficient manner, identifying high and low spots and easily being able to address them quickly. The height of the mound should not change much throughout the year if the clay around the rubber is kept level. Measure it a few times a year, but daily upkeep and repairing will save time on larger repairs later in the year. SportsTurf: What's the most important post-game task that managers at lower levels can do to keep mounds Editor's note: We asked those who would know about improving and maintaining pitching mounds; here's their advice: ZACH RICKETTS, HEAD GROUNDSKEEPER, HO HO KAM STADIUM, SCOTTSDALE AZ The main component to how long a mound will last after rebuilding is what your regular maintenance is after player use. If you take the time after each use to repair it correctly, you can keep it in good condition for at least a month or two. If you do build it correctly the first time, your daily maintenance will always be less and the mound will last longer. When choosing your soil for a mound the clay content is key. You can buy different mound-specific clays in bags, but if you are looking for a cheaper alternative there are a lot of native soils with high clay content that would hold up well. Another option would be to use native soil for a base layer and then add the mound specific clay on the top 2-3 inches. If you know that your mound area is close to level to the plate, you could put a 4-inch brick layer underneath your 6-inch rubber and then start packing your dirt around that. Another method to finding your 10 inches is putting a stake behind home plate and attaching a string 10 inches above the plate. Once your string is attached you can pull it tight to the rubber and put a small level on the string that shows when it is at 10. The most important post game task for anyone managing a mound area is filling in the holes and adding the correct moisture. If you don't have the staff or materials to pack new clay in the holes every day, it is best to at least rake over the holes and give it a good shot of water when it is dry. If possible, it is always good to cover the mound up with a tarp or rubber mat to hold the proper amount of moisture in the mounds. MAINTAINING PITCHING MOUNDS Starting the process. PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL BOETTCHER, MILWAUKEE BREWERS. Jamie Mehringer, president, J&D Turf See Jamie's blogs on slope boards and regular repair of batters boxes: Slope: Home plate repair:

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