Feature Article - October 2012
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Maintenance & Operations: Synthetic Turf

Beyond the Basics
Synthetic Turf Fields Have Come a Long Way

By Tammy York

Field Selection

Synthetic turf is made from polyethylene fibers for the grass zone with the short nylon fibers of the root zone to reduce infill migration and keep the playing surface more consistent. To get the right field for your application, talk to synthetic turf consultants who can guide you through the process.

Many companies offer synthetic turf for a variety of applications. Realize that you are developing a partnership with the company providing the synthetic turf, installation and warranty. Experts in the field recommend going with a company with a long-standing track record of installed fields that after years of use are still in good condition. Ask for references, go and see the fields, talk to the field managers to get a hindsight-is-20/20 perspective, and watch games being played on the different manufacturers' synthetic turf fields.

Selecting the right field is a challenge because each field, whether it is meant for baseball, football, lacrosse or soccer, has its own needs in terms of ball bounce, ball speed, shock absorbency and usage patterns. For example, football fields are primarily concerned with shock absorbency or low G-Max values, lacrosse fields need to hold up to foot traffic and lacrosse creases, and baseball infield areas need durability.

By working closely with a synthetic turf consultant and making compromises where you can, you can get the most intramural use out of your field. Everything including the underlayment, fiber height, fiber structure, infill materials and infill height can be adjusted so the fields can be designed to fit your specific needs.

Also remember to take into consideration that synthetic turf fields will not last forever. Eventually you will need to replace the synthetic turf and reclaim or repurpose the infill. By selecting fields made from components designed for future recycling now, you can save your organization time and money down the road.

Synthetic turf fields can save resources and increase revenue while decreasing the costs of watering, fertilizing and maintaining the field.