Feature Article - February 2020
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Field Goals

Making Multi-Use, Multi-Sports Fields Work

By Joe Bush

Wes Howard is an AfterCare Manager for another synthetic turf company, and his job is to oversee what customers need for their fields in the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Southwest regions of the United States.

"With general maintenance of these fields, the standard is an eight-year warranty," Howard said. "There's no guarantees, but I can tell you if you take care of your field and you maintain your field, that eight years can turn into nine, 10, 11, 12 years."

The company sells maintenance packages and either handles the work directly with crews traveling the country or partners with local businesses to perform what's needed. Packages offered take either one day or two under the supervision of certified personnel; Howard said non-certified care can hinder warranty claims.

The one-day package includes inspection, grooming, magnetic metal collecting, professional cleaning, disinfection, and a review of maintenance practices with the client. The two-day program adds multilevel vacuuming, multilevel decompacting and more extensive grooming.

Additional services include two-year antimicrobial protection, baseball mound cleaning, special cleaning and maintenance for field hockey, infill removal and top-off, and removal and replacement of turf and infill in worn areas.

Howard said the yearly and alternate year deep cleans are important, but nothing replaces everyday monitoring. The golden rule is to keep the fields clean, he said.

"Years ago, I was talking to a coach whose fields always looked fantastic, and he said 'You know what I do every Wednesday? I get the boys and we line 'em up and we walk across the field and anything we find we pick it up,'" Howard said. "'Smartest thing I've ever done with this field.'"

Clients are left with 2,000 pounds of infill and repair kits and any minor repairs can be talked through. Howard has additional suggestions, other than picking up litter, for daily and periodic care that help with performance and longevity:

>> Decompact once a year, or at least once every other year. If you let it go too long without decompacting, it might not be possible, Howard said. "A heavy-use field that's two or three years old and they've never done anything with it, we can decompact that field and the (GMAX) numbers can really change," he said. "An eight-year-old field we don't decompact because the fibers can't take it."

>> Use a pull-behind groomer for every 120 to 140 hours of use. "We recommend you groom the field two days before (a game)," Howard said. "Don't groom the day of because static electricity in the infill will make it stick to fibers."

>> Monitor usage and alternate traffic patterns when possible. "For every field in downtown Charlotte, N.C., there's a field in Nowhere, Neb.," said Howard. "These are not maintenance-free fields. There's a lot going on, and a lot of people are figuring out that maintenance makes a difference." RM