A five-step guide to maintaining artificial turf sports fields
Regular field grooming will ensure fields play to their intended capabilities
July 7, 2023 By Bryan Christiansen
Any area with a lot of foot traffic requires dedicated and regular maintenance – and sports grounds are no exception. Artificial grass must be updated every five to 10 years in high-impact locations, including football fields and sports complexes, to preserve the surface’s integrity and shock-absorbing capabilities. In lower-impact arenas, turf can last up to 20 years if properly maintained.
Regardless of the season, field maintenance managers and athletic managers of multi-sport fields must prioritize ground maintenance to maintain award-winning turf all year long. The purpose of maintaining artificial turf fields goes beyond keeping them looking good; it’s also about ensuring the safety of athletes. Simply put, compacted turf doesn’t provide the cushion and safe landing that artificial turf is meant to provide.
Although daily field inspections are part of the maintenance routine, following this five-point checklist will help your complex maintain its turf properly.
Grooming the field
Regular field grooming is a necessary component of proper upkeep, recommended after every 40 hours of use. Grooming includes removing dirt or garbage, examining the infill levels, and brushing the fibres. Setting up visual inspections and debris removal, other preventive maintenance activities, and keeping track of their execution is a challenging task if done manually – that’s where a computer maintenance management system (CMMS) comes in.
This is the perfect time to drag-brush the field so the sand infill will be evenly spread, preventing the turf’s hardening. Check the infill depth and apply a contact disinfectant with every cleaning. Any skinned areas of the turf should be remedied with a turf conditioner during field grooming. Turf conditioner can be applied with plastic leaf rakes or a drag mat. Keep in mind that the field will need to be rolled after the use of a turf conditioner, so you’ll need to leave ample time before play for the field to be wet and rolled before use.
Maintaining the skinned areas will promote good drainage and prevent additional infill compaction. Nonetheless, the field should not be trimmed on game day. To maintain the uniformity of the infill across the grass, a day must pass between grooming and field use. Utilizing a CMMS to monitor field maintenance may keep the maintenance personnel on track with grass upkeep and field grooming.
During the inspection and preventive maintenance in the field, any dangers or actionable maintenance items should be recorded and classified as shown in the preceding chart. A CMMS system enables all inspection items to be tracked and maintenance work orders to be produced, so that any safety issues can be resolved before the game begins.
Using proper field maintenance equipment
- You can use a plastic turf rake to remove leaves or other organic matter from the turf. Don’t use any metal rakes or other metal yard tools on your artificial turf.
- Use leaf blowers for dry leaf and organic debris removal.
- Have a supply of organic cleanser to routinely wash the turf.
- Employ a grooming brush or power grooming brush to perk up the grass fibres after the debris has been removed and the turf has been washed.
Avoid standing water
The subsoil – and not the grass itself – is responsible for collecting standing water. This is why good field drainage is emphasized before the installation of turf – grading equally, and proper drainage layers are both required before the turf is laid. When artificial turf is installed on an improperly graded subbase, it may develop wrinkles and holes, rendering it unfit for play.
Due to weed development in the sub base, the turf’s drainage pores may get plugged. This will cause difficulties with standing water. If standing water has become a problem, incorrect grading is most likely to blame. For effective drainage, the weed barrier will need to be replaced after regrading occurs.
Perform annual intensive cleanings
Even if you routinely maintain your grass field to eliminate tiny particles and dirt, extensive cleanings must be performed annually. In addition to the decompaction of the infill, the yearly comprehensive cleaning offers an opportunity to evaluate and remedy any faults with the field. If there was insufficient time between games to apply field conditioner, damaged sections of the field may also be repaired.
During the yearly cleaning, a moss and algae treatment should also be used to prevent any growth. Unless there is a specific problem with the grass that requires soaking and application of a turf conditioner, the standard detergent and disinfectant may be utilized. Log yearly cleaning in your CMMS, and make sure to record any extra work conducted during the annual cleaning in the preventive maintenance module to ensure that it is regularly handled.
Annually performed infill decompaction
In time, the accumulation of dirt, leaves, and other organic debris will cause the turf to harden and become compacted. An infill decompaction will return the turf to its former state and maintain its lushness and playability. A drag brush and drag mat are used to decompact the infill and uniformly distribute it throughout the turf. This will eliminate any abrasive regions and prepare the turf for any subsequent infill installation.
Regular turf management should include infill decompaction and a comprehensive cleaning once a year. This allows adding infill to high traffic areas, and offers the ideal chance to inspect the turf for seam rips and trip hazards. You may apply infill by hand and distribute it with a plastic leaf rake, or you can use a motorized groomer for bigger areas.
Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS, a modern, easy-to-use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations. Limblecmms.com
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