The weather in Western Washington is tough on natural grass playing fields. The rainy and dry conditions of the seasons leave fields with patchy grass, holes and crusty dirt.

The Longview Public Schools facilities team has taken on a big project – improving the R. A. Long softball field.

The team started the project by leveling the playing field and taking out the patchy, dead grass. With years of use grass infields develop high and low spots around the batter’s box, base paths and in the outfield.

Now that the field is once again flat the outfield is being fitted with an irrigation system. New grass will be planted, and with proper irrigation now possible, the outfield should stay lush and green year around.

The infield area, which had many low spots causing puddling during rainy times, will be treated with a mix of dirt, sand and a product called Turface.

Turface is a “turf conditioner”, which will allow water to drain, while keeping the infield dirt from becoming “hardpan”.

The facilities team uses a machine that digs and mixes the dirt, sand and Turface together then packs it down and brushes over the top. The goal is to get a 6-inch layer of the dirt, sand and Turface mixture all over the infield.

The project will allow the field to be playable more often and remain in better shape for years to come.