Can you believe spring is already right around the corner? If you maintain fields, you know what that means: Coaches will be asking to get on the fields on the first sunny day regardless of condition or how much damage it might cause. While I can’t control that, I do know that I’ve learned some infield tricks over the years that help to keep the team happy so they can play, and also keep the field manager happy because the field performs better.
One of these tricks is rolling the infield. No, I’m not talking about the infield grass, though that has a benefit too. I’m talking about the infield skin. If you’re not already rolling your skin as soon as you can get on it in the spring, you should be!
Why? With freezing weather comes frost heaving. When this happens, there is more “space” in the dirt to hold moisture, therefore taking longer for it to dry out. Rolling compacts the infield and removes that extra space so that any moisture gets pushed to the surface for quicker drying, or sheds off the infield to the direction it’s graded.
So when can you roll? This is the toughest part. You want to roll when there is moisture in it, but do not want to try rolling if there is any sort of “muddiness” to it. Once it’s firm enough to walk on without leaving an imprint that moves the material, you’re typically good to go.
The best part? Rollers are pretty easily accessible. Whether you have a 1 ton asphalt roller available to use or a pull behind, anything is better than nothing. And if you don’t have one at your disposal, they are usually easy and cheap to find from your local equipment rental store.
Once it’s rolled, treat the infield as you normally would in the spring with dragging and other maintenance. You will notice the benefits from rolling after a spring rain or after a hard freeze. Try it! What do you have to lose?