Baseball is a great pastime, but I recently experienced a different side of baseball – the maintenance and rehabilitation of a field.
Several Ewing employees and customers headed out to Camino Real Park in Ventura, Calif., this past spring to learn what it takes to repair a baseball/softball mound.
Building a Pitcher’s Mound
Though a typical mound build takes about three hours, this particular build took about six hours as we spent extra time carefully instructing participants from various Little Leagues, the City of Ventura Parks department, and Conejo Recreation.
First, you’ll need the right tools and supplies for the job. Materials that are useful for a mound build or repair include:
- A trench tamper
- Square shovels
- A level
- A cutter mattock
- A great rake
- A push broom
- A spade shovel
- Water hose with a fine spray nozzle
- AquaSmart Pro
- Turface products: Clay bricks, mound clay and Pro League
Before you start, get the mound specifications for the league using the field. Before you start any digging, you want to align the pitching rubber. The field we were on is used for softball and Little League, so the mound had two pitching rubbers.
The first step to aligning the mound is to take an 18-inch stake and place it at the apex point, behind home plate. Tie a string to it, 10-inches above the ground. This will measure the height of the mound and ensure the rubber is centered. Take the string from home plate to another 18-inch stake behind second base.
Check the distance from the home plate apex to the front of the pitching rubber to make sure it matches the required 60 feet, 6 inches.
Adding MoundMaster Blocks
Next, we added MoundMaster clay bricks for mound stability and durability. This will create the slope of your mound. The slope decreases by 1 inch per foot.
First, you’ll want to outline the radius of your pitcher’s mound. To do this, you place a 9-inch nail 18-inches in front of the pitching rubber. From the nail, you’ll mark a 9-foot radius for the mound.
Before you start laying the bricks, water the area. Moisture control is very important during the installation of clay bricks because it keeps the bricks from drying out or cracking. Moisture is like glue; it helps the bricks stick together. You will be amazed how much water is absorbed in the hours you are working.
First, put down a ¼-inch layer of mound clay. Then, lay your bricks, ensuring your slope of 1 inch per foot.
Next, you want to apply mound clay to the bricks—rub it in all cracks and seams of your bricks. Then water and tamp lightly. Add some infield mix to your mound, and spread it with a rake to cover the clay. After you add the infield mix, add some Turface MVP or Pro League Red to cover your mound. You should add about five 50-pound bags of Turface to top off your mound.
Now you want to water the mound. The first time you water, you should give it a good soak, let the water absorb, and then soak it again one last time. Next, cover your mound with plastic to hold in the moisture.
After the mound build, I have a newfound appreciation for the pros that maintain sports fields, and for how much hard work and dedication it takes to make a field look great and safe to play on!
Turface Products for Sports Fields
Having the right products is key for sports field maintenance. Ewing carries all the Turface products and tools you will need to repair and maintain a sports field, which can help save time and money when the need arises.
Turface MoundMaster blocks are made from high-quality clay for pitching mounds and batters boxes. These clay bricks will save you time and minimize future maintenance hassles because of their durability. They can withstand wear and tear, especially in the batters box. You can minimize the dangerous pits that are created with time, and the clay bricks provide your players with good, safe footing and make your repairs a whole lot easier.
Mound clay is made with the same high-quality clay as the bricks. When laying down bricks, you want to rub some clay into the creases to set the bricks properly for improved stability. The clay works great for repairs, and maintains the consistency of the surface for optimal safety.
Infield conditioners are used for managing moisture, puddles and drainage on your field. Turface makes a variety of choices for conditioners, which you can find at Ewing.
- MVP is the most common and frequently used Turface conditioner. This product is applied to your field for moisture control and to reduce compaction for optimal safety. You can apply it as topdressing to prevent compaction on your field.
- Pro League is another conditioner, but with smaller particles that form a more uniform field, making it safer by providing a consistent surface. This reduces bad ball hopping. It’s available in three colors: original red, natural or the new Heritage Red.
- Field & Fairway is good for reducing soil compaction in high traffic areas. It is also useful if you have puddles in your grassy areas; just apply Field & Fairway, and watch it absorb the water.
- Greens Grade is similar to Field & Fairway, but is specifically designed for sand-based root zones.
- Use Turface Quick Dry to absorb puddles and standing water on your infield. Just pour onto the puddle until it’s covered, then rake it in to eliminate any standing water.
If you have a baseball, football or soccer field, Ewing has the products and the knowledge to help you keep your fields safe, vibrant and playable all year long. Whenever you need help with anything, just remember that Ewing is more than just irrigation professionals—we also specialize in sports fields, lighting, hardscape and much more. Find a Ewing location near you.