There are many reasons to buy a baseball field tarp. By protecting your field, you can save thousands per year on soil and turf maintenance, plus you can save money on rescheduled and rained-out games. A good tarp will also protect your field from frost damage, help maintain steady growth, and can provide consistent team branding, but how do you choose the right tarp or field cover?
This article will explain what you should consider when buying a tarp for your program's baseball or softball field. We will also go over the different types of field covers, including full field tarps, which cover the entire infield skin, and spot covers, which are used to cover and protect the mound, batting area, and the on-deck circle.
Full Field Covers
Perhaps the most important type of baseball field tarp, the full field cover, is designed to protect the entire infield skin. Typically, a full field cover will reach just beyond the infield covering the whole area from the third base coaches box to the first base coaches' box down to the home plate circle. Most quality full field tarps will extend roughly 3-5 feet into the outfield, which helps prevent rainwater from running into the infield skin in the event of inclement weather.
Generally speaking, there are two options available when considering which type of full field tarp to purchase for your field: one-piece tarps and two-piece tarps. In almost all cases, a one-piece full field cover will be much better than a two-piece tarp for a couple of reasons.
Number one, a one-piece full field cover is simply much more efficient and effective. Number two, it’s considerably easier to align a one-piece tarp as it doesn’t need to be overlapped and affixed in the same way that a two-piece full field cover does. Finally, it can be almost impossible to get a two-piece tarp together when bad weather strikes due to heavy winds. For these reasons, you should always aim to purchase a one-piece full field cover that can be deployed quickly and easily to protect the whole infield skin in the event of an approaching storm.
How to Choose the Right Size One-piece Full Field Cover
There are three industry standard sizes of one-piece full field covers available. The first size is for little league fields, the second size is for softball fields, and the third, and most common size, is for adult baseball. Let's take a closer look at each type so that you can get an accurate measurement of your field and order the correct size full field cover for your program's needs.
Little League Full Field Covers
The industry-standard size for little league full field covers is approximately 100' x 100'. This is assuming that your program is using 60' bases with a 50' radius arc.
Softball Full Field Covers
The industry-standard size for softball full field covers is approximately 110’ x 110’. This assumes that your program is using 60’ bases with a 60’ radius arc.
Adult Baseball Full Field Covers
The industry-standard size for an adult baseball full field cover is approximately 170’ x 170’. This is assuming that your program is using 90’ bases with a 95’ radius arc.
Of course, some programs have different size fields, but these are the industry standard sizes that are commonly available for purchase from full field tarp vendors.
Full field covers are heavy, there's no way around it, and when they get wet, then they become even heavier. The smallest, most lightweight, little league full field covers can weigh up to 500 pounds, and a premium vinyl tarp for adult baseball can weigh in excess of a ton. That said, you still need to consider the weight and material you want to purchase for your program. There are again two options to choose from, lightweight (4-6 oz) tarps and heavyweight (10oz) premium tarps.
A lightweight tarp, as mentioned, is not very light at all at 500+ pounds, but this type of tarp will generally be more portable and quicker to deploy due to its lighter construction. The downside to choosing a lightweight tarp is that it will be less durable than a heavyweight, more premium full field cover. Of course, a lightweight tarp will also be less expensive, but if you need to buy the tarp twice because of wear and tear, then the value proposition can head south in a hurry.
Conversely, a heavyweight, premium full field cover, which will most likely be constructed from high-grade vinyl, is going to weigh a lot more, especially after a heavy rain, which means it will take a bit longer to deploy on the field and remove from the field.
However, the benefits generally outweigh the downsides when it comes to purchasing a heavyweight premium full field cover. Premium tarps will last much longer than their lightweight, lesser-quality counterparts. In other words, you should only have to purchase it once. Of course, if you are an MLB manager with a full 182 game schedule, then you might want to buy another one as a backup.
As important as it is to choose the correct size full field cover to protect your infield skin, it is equally important to remember that you need to choose the correct cover weights so that your tarp doesn't blow away when a gust of wind hits the field. So, be sure to consult your vendor when choosing a full field cover to inquire about which cover weights they have in stock and whether or not those are included in the price of the tarp.
Although full field covers will protect the whole infield skin, it is nevertheless still important to protect certain specialty areas, which, if damaged, can be particularly expensive to repair. Specifically, you should cover up the pitching mound, the batting area, and the on-deck circle, and the best way to do that is with a spot cover.
Spot covers come in several varieties; most notably, they can be purchased weighted or unweighted. An unweighted spot cover will be cheaper, lighter, and quicker to deploy, whereas a weight spot cover will be more durable, more expensive, slower to deploy, but will offer better protection and will last for much longer. Which one you should choose is up to you, but like with most things, it's usually better to purchase something weighted that will be of a higher quality and will last longer before needing to be replaced.
Make a Wise Investment with a Baseball Field Tarp
A baseball field tarp is an important investment that can save you thousands of dollars over the long run by protecting your infield during bad weather and preventing the need to spend a ton of money on turf and field repairs. There are several options available on the market, but a one-piece, premium full field tarp that will protect the infield skin will almost always be your best bet. It's also important to protect the other vital areas in the infield, such as the pitching mound, batting area and on-deck circle with a spot cover.