Ultimate guide to Artificial Turf Field Maintenance: costs, measures and equipment

sports turf maintenance

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.

Synthetic turf field maintenance and cleaning are important factors in getting the highest levels of activity and longest life out of the facility’s investment in an artificial turf field. Maintenance costs are also something that can be easily overlooked by clubs and facility managers when estimating how much a turf field costs to install.

Artificial turf pitches have established themselves as the top alternative to the classic grass pitch.

The significant reduction in the amount of work required for sports turf cleaning, care and maintenance is the main reason for turf’s popularity. However, less maintenance does not mean no maintenance. The sports field has to be cleaned at regular intervals with the appropriate sports turf maintenance equipment. The cost of maintenance equipment for an artificial turf field ranges from $8,800 to $56,000 and is a wise investment for any club, college or municipality.

Table of Contents

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.

What does the annual maintenance of an artificial turf pitch cost? Use the artificial turf maintenance cost calculator now.

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
sports turf care

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 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. Sports turf care 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.

artificial turf cleaning

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Cost calculator: artificial turf maintenance machines

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.

Sports field care: 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.

Cleaning your sports turf with and without maintenance machines

The artificial turf pitch should be checked for contamination at regular intervals. The sooner problems are detected, the better the chance of counteracting damage with preventive maintenance. Exactly how often such checks should take place depends on the type of surface and frequency of use.

In the case of coarse organic debris such as leaves and litter, the turf can be cleaned by using a leaf blower. However, if there is more stubborn dirt that is not so easy to remove, it makes sense to use an artificial turf maintenance device. This removes the infill material, cleans it with sieves and filters before working it back into the turf. It is important to note that sharp-edged contaminants on the field, such as glass, can cause great damage even in small quantities, and must therefore be cleaned up as quickly as possible.

From time to time, weeds also get stuck in the artificial turf. They have to be plucked out by hand or removed with a water nozzle, although workers must take care to ensure that the infill material is not washed away.

Oil and gasoline are also dangers, and must be disposed of in accordance with local regulations. First, bind the liquids with sand and / or wood flour and then replace the infill material in the affected area. The same principle applies to the removal of dog feces.

artificial turf maintenance equipment for sports field

Artificial turf maintenance equipment for sports fields

The appropriate artificial turf care equipment and regular artificial turf maintenance are essential if a sports club or municipality wants to use its artificial turf field intensively for the full length of its rated lifespan. Artificial turf fields have the great advantage that they can be played on year round, but this is only possible if the turf is regularly maintained. In addition to the know-how of the groundsman, the appropriate maintenance and cleaning equipment are crucial for turf performance and longevity.

Clubs have access to a wide range of artificial turf maintenance machines. Specialized companies also offer regular maintenance services and ensure that the field is optimally and professionally maintained.

Specialized artificial turf maintenance tools are used on the sports fields of numerous towns, universities and schools to help clean and maintain artificial turf fields. The maintenance equipment is available in a wide variety of designs and variants. Before purchasing, clubs and municipalities should carefully consider which machines are needed and which maintenance tasks should be contracted out to a specialist as part of advanced maintenance. 

Trailers and smaller ride-on machines are suitable, for example, for cleaning the surface, recycling the infill granules and brushing the turf fibers. The most economical option for regular artificial turf maintenance is a multipurpose machine that can perform all of these tasks and maintain the turf in one step. The machine should level, clean and remove leaves, return the granules and re-integrate the infill material. 

Clubs should ensure that maintenance machines are operated only by trained personnel. Mistakes during maintenance can permanently damage the system and significantly reduce the life of the turf.

Anyone considering the construction of a new artificial turf pitch should include all maintenance costs – including  the costs associated with artificial turf maintenance and the costs associated with the purchase of appropriate equipment – in the project planning at an early stage.

What influences the price of maintenance equipment?

The cost of artificial turf maintenance equipment can be calculated using the artificial turf maintenance cost calculator. For clubs or facility managers who are planning to install a sports turf it is essential to make sure to include maintenance costs in the budget also. In addition to the multifunctionality of the machines, the following criteria influence the purchase price:

  • Quality of the machine
  • Type and frequency of maintenance 
  • Type and size of the sports facility 

The maintenance equipment inherently varies in price, which mainly depends on the quality of the machine. Here, the material and workmanship play the main role in price differences. A machine that is well-built has a much longer life and does not need to be replaced very quickly.

Anyone considering buying this equipment should be aware of how often and in what way the artificial turf maintenance should be completed. Depending on the design and equipment, there will be advantages and disadvantages that a buyer must take into account. With some equipment, it is also useful to look at any necessary accessories that have specific benefits. Overall, maintenance equipment should always be individually adapted to the sports facility.

The fact that the equipment can be used on other sports fields besides football fields is also a cost factor. The versatility of a device, for example, on sports fields other than a soccer field, is an advantage that may well be reflected in the price. With a versatile maintenance device, there is less need to make additional investments in equipment. 

Finally, facility owners may have the option of applying for financial support for the maintenance of the soccer field. Thus, the purchase of an artificial turf maintenance device may not be an insurmountable hurdle, even for smaller clubs.

Calculate costs around the purchase of artificial turf care equipment and find out about financing and funding options:

Cost calculator for artificial turf maintenance equipment

artificial turf maintenance equipment cost

Machines for artificial turf cleaning

In order to regularly remove leaves, branches and dirt from the pitch, clubs can use conventional leaf blowers and more precise tools to remove dirt from the pitch. 

Special maintenance equipment is needed for artificial turf cleaning, and is available as a ride-on unit or as a trailer-mounted unit for attachment to a tractor or quad.

When purchasing artificial turf maintenance machines, clubs should consider the following:

  1. Which machines are needed for regular maintenance and which additional attachments can be combined for the different maintenance measures?
  2. Are the maintenance machines suitable for the specific turf system you have? Can they be used regardless of the surface’s manufacturer?
  3. The maintenance equipment should be easy to operate and not cause any difficulties in daily handling.
  4. The working width of the machines must be adapted to the size of the pitch or the area of the sports facilities. A cleaning machine for a regulation soccer field has different dimensions than a maintenance machine for a soccer court or a small field.

Artificial turf maintenance tools: regular maintenance

Machines for regular maintenance of artificial turf fields are usually equipped with wheel-driven rotary brushes and individually adjustable screens. Infill granules can be cleaned of dirt and dust with the help of these machines and evenly redistributed on the field.

Attachments for sports field maintenance

Towed machines that can be pulled by small tractors or quads are suitable for regular maintenance. These machines are available in various working widths and can be configured according to the size of the playing field. For smaller fields, such as soccer courts or mini-pitches, make sure the equipment can fit through doorways and gates, and that the attachments are retractable.

Ride-on machines for regular maintenance

Ride-on machines with rotary brushes allow for the maintenance of larger playing fields. These are equipped with gasoline or diesel engines, and can be used for surface cleaning, recirculating infill granules and brushing the artificial turf fiber.

Artificial turf maintenance tools: advanced maintenance

Machines for advanced maintenance can fulfill all the regular maintenance tasks, and are largely suitable for loosening the turf, deep cleaning and refilling the granulate.

Pushers for artificial grass pitches

Pushers with driven brushes and suction turbines are especially suitable for soccer courts and small soccer fields. Due to their compact dimensions, they can be easily transported over stairs or pushed through narrow door and gate openings.

Towed machines for the maintenance of playing fields

Towed machines perform the same maintenance tasks and fit on any landscape tractor. These machines can also be ordered with different working widths and adapted to the appropriate pitch size.

Ride-on machines for advanced maintenance

Ride-on machines for artificial turf cleaning and maintenance can be used for loosening, turf cleaning and for refilling the infill granules. In some cases, they are equipped with folding triangular brooms and can be configured to different working widths depending on the size of the pitch.

Multipurpose equipment and complete solutions

Many suppliers carry specialized equipment that can serve as complete solutions for artificial turf maintenance. These machines have a working width of 2400 mm and can perform nearly the full range of maintenance tasks. Through various attachments, they can also be used for seasonal maintenance items. 

They are expensive, though. The purchase is worthwhile for municipalities that have numerous sports fields or for companies that specialize in the professional maintenance of artificial turf playing fields.

Complete solutions for artificial turf pitch maintenance

Artificial turf maintenance equipment comes in specialized designs that may perform only some of the tasks of sports field maintenance. 

Multifunctional maintenance machines, on the other hand, can perform all regular and advanced maintenance tasks and can be cheaper in the final tally than a fleet of specialized machines. These maintenance machines clean the artificial turf, recycle the artificial turf granules, remove dirt, vacuum leaves and work the infill granules back into the artificial turf. In heavily used areas of the pitch, such as the penalty areas, the artificial turf granules are regularly distributed and, depending on the level of use, also regularly refilled. If this is not done at regular intervals, there is a risk of damage to the stressed playing field areas of the artificial turf pitch.

Artificial turf field maintenance: Keeping an eye on costs

Not every municipality, sports complex or educational institution needs a large fleet of artificial turf maintenance equipment. However, investing in a multifunctional piece of equipment for regular maintenance and the appropriate attachments for an existing landscape tractor can be worthwhile. How much a turf field will end up costing overall is a combination of construction and maintenance costs. Which is why clubs and municipalities should consider the maintenance and care costs of an artificial turf pitch at an early stage and find out the costs for maintenance equipment right from the start.

You can estimate the price for maintenance and machinery in detail using our artificial turf field maintenance cost calculator.