Best practices on baseball field maintenance are all well and good, but often an extra helping hand in keeping the game safe from the elements can work wonders.
While baseball field tarps have a vital role to play, area tarps or spot covers are just as crucial to this maintenance goal. Let’s go over how area tarps and spot covers can help make every inning a positive memory.
What Is an Area Tarp?
An area tarp is a crucial element in any baseball field – and likewise, in the toolkit of any groundskeeper, coach and team manager. Also known as a spot cover, and area tarp protects the pitcher’s mound, home plate area, and on-deck circles from the elements, and also help maintain the optimum level of soil moisture for safety and durability.
Is an Area Tarp the Same Thing as a Spot Cover?
To all intents and purposes, an area tarp and a spot cover are the same thing – they are simply different names for the same tool, which has the same goals of safety behind its design.
A baseball field spot cover is designed for specific plates, mounds or marked parts of the baseball field – and is made of a material specific to protecting those areas. By contrast, a full baseball field tarp serves a more generalized purpose and – as the name implies – covers an area of the field in one fell swoop.
You’ll no doubt have noticed that many area tarp options for baseball fields are shaped like the areas of the baseball field that they cover, and can be ordered specific to that size. However, such a spot cover is often circular, which lends it good versatility for specific areas of protection and coverage.
Why Should You Cover the Pitcher’s Mound and Home Plate Circle?
As you can imagine, safety is a key aspect of any sport, and that includes the specifics and science behind protecting key areas of the field between games.
Baseball field features such as the home plate could become slick by wet weather – but also by more natural occurrences like humidity and morning dew. This kind of moisture imbalance can last hours, if not days – and strongly affect the game to come.
It’s this ambient moisture control that informs a big part of how and why each area tarp or spot cover is put into action. It’s not just to keep moisture out, either – some people are surprised to learn that a good area tarp is just as much in place to help lock existing moisture in.
That’s because the average baseball game sees the pitcher's mound, home plate and other key areas of gameplay experience a huge amount of foot traffic. If the soil in any of these areas is too dry, it’s easily dislodged and disrupted by all this activity – making it soon get risky underfoot.
This is why soil with a decent level of clay content is used in baseball field features such as the pitcher’s mound and the plates. The right level of moisture keeps this soil densely packed, solid underfoot and resistant to stomps, kicks and running athletes – hugely minimizing the risk of injury.
Why Cover the Pitcher’s Mound and Home Plate When It Needs Water in the First Place?
Again, the question of having water content within these areas of a baseball field is not the problem.
The challenge is locking in and sustaining that correct level of moisture, without anything escaping due to evaporation, or becoming too saturated and slushy underfoot.
This is the pivotal role that a good area tarp or spot cover plays in any well managed baseball field. The beauty of this approach is that it means a baseball field is ready for play the moment the cover is removed from the area – letting everyone enjoy the important part, which is the thrill of the game.
How do you Measure for an Area Tarp?
Naturally, knowing how best to put your area tarp into action means knowing the parts of the field you’re looking to protect. An area tarp can be ordered to pretty precise measurements and specifications, including not only its dimensions, but also the weight – and, of course, the color of your choice.
It’s worth remembering that best practice is to order a spot cover that is slightly larger than the area of the baseball field to be covered. This ensures not only full coverage, but some added coverage of the immediately surrounding soil – which prevents any moisture seeping in or damage sneaking beneath the fabric.