Infield skinned areas are the most used portion of any baseball or softball field and therefore need constant attention to insure good playing conditions. Infield skinned area soils should have 20 - 30% clay content. Because of this higher clay content, skinned areas can become too compacted which negatively impacts the overall quality of play.
Infield conditioner products - such as Diamond Pro’s red infield conditioner - are mixed with the top layers of infield dirt to help keep the surface from becoming too compacted. The conditioner material absorbs and holds water which will help the field to dry out after a rain. It also allows you to water before an event without making the surface “sticky”.
If you have a good mix of sand, silt, clay and conditioner, you should be able to maintain a firm infield that will be workable, allowing you to create a quality playing surface.
The goal with infield skinned areas is to maintain a firm soil base with a ½ inch layer of loose soil and infield conditioner on top. Nail dragging will help achieve this goal. Nail dragging should be performed any time the surface of the skinned area gets too hard or divots are visible from recent player activity.
Prior to nail dragging, first wet the soil thoroughly and allow some time for the water to soak in. While the surface is still moist, pull a nail over the surface. If the nails or spikes do not penetrate the surface, put some extra weight on top of the drag (see above image). You may have to go over the surface several times in different directions to loosen the soil. After nail dragging, use a steel mat or cocoa mat drag to smooth the surface. Water the surface at the end of the day.
Infield Dragging Maintenance Reference
In-Season: 1-2 times weekly
Off-Season: Every 2 weeks
In-Season: After every use
Off-Season: Once per week
Mat dragging should be performed every day an infield is used. This will help keep the surface smooth. Take special care to fill in divots and other slow spots that may be developing. Apply a generous dose of water on the skinned area after your final drag.
Stay at least 6 inches away from the grass edge to keep from depositing infield dirt onto the grass. This will help prevent “lips” from developing around the infield edges.