Artificial Turf Field Maintenance costs and guidelines
If you are in a hurry…
The costs of artificial turf field maintenance are divided into regular maintenance measures, which are usually carried out by the club itself, and the costs of advanced maintenance. Advanced maintenance is usually carried out by specialist companies at regular intervals.
Cleaning the pitch requires specialized equipment. Clubs should, if possible, use a multifunctional device for the maintenance work instead of working with different machines and an assortment of attachments.
The maintenance costs for a municipal sports field with artificial turf range from $7,000 to $23,000 per year, depending on the size of the field and the equipment available.
To get a more precise cost estimate, you can try our artificial turf field maintenance cost calculator.
What can damage an artificial turf pitch?
Facility managers should be aware of the most common causes of damage to artificial turf surfaces:
- Contamination of the infill material
- Change of weather
- Uneven distribution of the load on the pitch
Soil – good, natural, old-fashioned soil – is a significant hazard for artificial turf. The infill material of the turf is mostly a mixture of sand and granules. It has a great impact on the comfort of the players and the performance of the field for sport, and therefore must maintain its consistency. Over time, dirt and leaves on the surface can settle and bind to the infill granules, damaging its texture, consistency, resilience and strength. To prevent this, the artificial turf must be cleaned regularly.
Likewise, the weather is a major factor in the well-being of an artificial turf pitch. Changes in weather across the seasons present the ground with different challenges. In summer, the sun casts UV rays on the artificial turf and heats it up, while in winter, frost and moisture penetrate the artificial turf. Proper maintenance will help the surface withstand all weather conditions.
Finally, not all areas of the artificial turf are equally loaded. Athletes obviously affect the condition of the pitch as they run, slide, jump and tackle on it. They create hotspots on the field, areas where there is frequent high-density and high-intensity play. Those areas require more intensive care than others.
Repairing damage to artificial turf
If basic artificial turf field maintenance, preventive and cleaning is not sufficient and damage occurs, partial turf repair can be performed. Broken seams on the pitch, which athletes can get caught, are the main tripping hazard. These seams can be quickly glued together again to boost the athletes’ safety.
If maintenance or repair is contracted to a company, pay attention to their credentials and methods of operation in these key areas:
- Proper cleaning of the infill material
- Uniform sanding of the pitch
- Correct closing of the seams
Many factors influence the need for artificial turf field care
How intensively an artificial turf needs to be maintained depends on several factors. First, the location of the sports field. Is the facility surrounded by trees whose foliage covers the playing field? Or is there a cinder pitch in the immediate vicinity, where dust is stirred up and consequently soils the artificial turf pitch? Either can mean an increased maintenance effort.
In addition, the intensity and frequency of use at the sports facility plays a key role. Maintenance schedules must be tailored to these needs accordingly.
In many cases, the artificial turf infill granules are worn off the pitch and end up in the environment. Particularly in the case of abrasion and the discharge of microplastics on the pitch, the care of the pitch and the prevention of the discharge of microplastics are of special importance. By using filter systems for artificial turf pitches, the infill granules and therefore also the microplastics can be filtered out.
How to maintain your artificial sports turf?
Sports facility operators can maintain artificial turf by following a basic set of guidelines and having their own trained personnel or an outside company do the work with the proper equipment. Synthetic turf maintenance includes cleaning, brushing and evenly distributing the infill granule across the pitch.
Sports facilities can either maintain their own artificial fields or contract out the job. If they choose to do it themselves, the first prerequisite is owning all the necessary equipment. The next is ensuring they have a trained and experienced grounds crew who has seen it all and can keep the pitch in use for its full service life.
There are several causes of damage to an artificial turf field. However, with good maintenance and commitment to the manufacturer’s procedures, artificial turf fields should last for 8 to 10 years. The turf should be cleaned several times a week to prevent it from becoming “dirty,” which negatively impacts the playing characteristics of the surface.
A must: Regular artificial turf cleaning
Cleaning is the most important single task when it comes to maintaining an artificial turf sports field. Several factors contribute to the wear and tear of sports turf. Facility managers should clean the surface regularly before training or games, so that leaves, sticks and dirt do not collect on the pitch. If daily cleaning is not possible, clubs should clean the pitch weekly at a bare minimum using the appropriate equipment.
Any artificial sports field should be cleaned weekly Brushing the artificial turf fibers should be carried out every two weeks with the appropriate maintenance equipment.
In autumn, the pitch must be regularly cleaned of leaves and dirt, otherwise a thin layer of moss and algae will form, causing dirt to settle in the artificial turf. In addition, these contaminants cause the pitch to become slippery, exposing the athletes to an increased risk of injury on the pitch.
Advantages of regular artificial turf cleaning
- Regularly and professionally maintaining – starting with cleaning – artificial turf ensures a long service life and optimal preservation of its sports-specific properties. In addition, cleaning preserves the color so the turf retains a fresh, rich green look.
- Regular maintenance prevents the formation of algae or moss on the turf. This prevents the risk of slipping, therefore reducing the risk of injury to the athletes.
- Regular care and maintenance avoids long-term costs for repairs and early replacement. You’ll be able to use your pitch for as long as you paid for it to last.
Beyond the basics: Deep cleaning artificial turf
Artificial turf should undergo monthly deep cleaning. If this is not possible, it should be at least quarterly.
Deep cleaning entails filtering and reapplying the turf granules to the pitch. Wet cleaning is another option, in which the artificial turf fibers are straightened up and the granules are cleaned and any clumps are broken up.
These measures restore the drainage flows from the pitch, keeping it in optimal playing condition..
These procedures involve specialized equipment, namely a machine with a sweeping suction device to process the granules.
Checking the infill material of the field
Correct sanding is part of proper artificial turf care. The infill material, usually a mixture of rubber granules and sand,does not stay evenly distributed across the pitch after regular use and weather, resulting in unevenness. In heavily used areas, such as the 18-yard area), the infill material must be replenished more often than in the rest of the field.
Over time, the infill in the artificial turf is trampled down, compacting the individual layers, which then need to be restored.
The turf can be loosened by pulling so-called pin bars over the artificial turf surface using specialized sports field maintenance equipment. Leveling the turf maintains the field’s playing characteristics and protects against long-term damage.
Brushing up artificial turf surfaces
The main factor in the playing comfort and appearance of a synthetic turf are the blades, which have a great influence on how the soccer ball moves over the ground. Poor maintenance causes the blades of the turf to become trampled down and bent. This alters the traction of the artificial turf, causing the ball to stop abruptly or slip and skid off when it lands on the ground.
To prevent this from happening, it is worth brushing the artificial turf on at least a weekly basis. Specially developed tools let your grounds crew to brush the surface and restore the pile.
The technique for brushing an artificial turf field surface must be customized to your sports facility and depends, among other things, on the type and direction of inclination of the blades.
Not all artificial turf fields have smooth blades: some are wavy or crimped. Second, the ideal distance of the device to the artificial turf is not always the same, so the fit of the brush on the maintenance device must be correct. Here, there is the option of using equipment with specially designed hydraulics, where the brush settings can be changed quickly and easily at the touch of a button.
The direction of inclination of the artificial turf blades is set during the installation of the turf by the way the blades enter the infill material. To maintain the shape of the blades, brushing should generally be done against the direction of inclination.
Important sport-specific considerations
So far we have discussed the general guidelines for maintaining and cleaning artificial turf fields, regardless of the type of artificial grass used, or, sports-specific considerations. Sports fields come in different shapes and sizes. A baseball diamond, like the name suggests, is not rectangularly shaped like a football field. Soccer pitches look pretty much like American football fields but tend to be wider.
Furthermore, different sports have different rules, which can have a direct effect on how the turf field is being stamped on. In soccer and football, each team has 11 players on the field at any given time, whereas, in a baseball game you will find only 9 players on each team. This adds up to around 18% less foot traffic on a baseball field vs football or soccer!
When it comes to wearing out a turf field, a factor maybe even more important than the number of players on the field is the distribution of the foot traffic on the pitch. In each sport, there are hot spots on the field of play where most of the action tends to happen. In baseball this would be the infield, in soccer, it would be inside the penalty box, and in football the 15-yard line, for example. Also, sideline areas where players from each team warm up and where linesmen run up and down the pitch tend to need special attention.
These are high-traffic areas that will need more attention than the rest of the playing field. Generally speaking, these hot spots will need to be groomed more and the infill needs to be decompacted and replenished more frequently. Choosing an experienced and professional turf field maintenance company will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
Get a cost estimate at an early stage for your synthetic turf field maintenance
Whether you are in the process of planning to install a synthetic turf field or you are already operating one, you will need to make a plan for maintaining your synthetic turf to maximize the number of years your athletic program or sports club will get out of the valuable asset.
Unless you are a true handyman and own a fleet of turf field maintenance equipment and tools, it is essential to work with an experienced, trustworthy, and professional turf field maintenance company that will take care of your sports turf at regular intervals using the appropriate machinery.
We recommend highly getting in touch with these companies at an early stage. We work with some of the leading turf field maintenance service providers and would be happy to hook you up with them. The first step, however, is to use our turf field maintenance cost calculator to get an instant estimate on the annual maintenance costs of your sports field.