It would appear at a cursory glance that synthetic grass is a very expensive replacement for natural grass, but the high cost is only up front. When measured over the life of the grass you will find that synthetic grass is actually a cheaper alternative to the real stuff and the savings may not simply be the cost of maintaining the grass.
So, that higher upfront cost of a synthetic grass surface is pretty quickly recouped by the lower maintenance requirements. Time, energy and the possibility of greater usage gives you a surface that will pay for itself over its lifetime.
The Evolution Of Artificial Turf
Nowadays, commercial artificial grass is far from an uncommon sight in back gardens and sports pitches the world over. The synthetic material seems to well and truly have gained space over its natural counterpart, with traits such as its durability and ease of maintenance endearing it to the general public.
Time was, however, when the situation was markedly difference. Outside of a sporting context, commercial artificial grass was regarded as tacky and an inferior substitute for the real thing, and even when used to cover playing surfaces for sports it was far from consensual.
In the midst of all the disapproval, however, turf always had a few admirers, and it is them who are largely responsible for its eventual expansion and success. This article harks back to a time before commercial artificial grass existed, to give an overview of its origin, evolution and eventual rise to popularity worldwide.
The origins of commercial artificial grass date back to 1960s America. The material was first researched and devised by a team of scientists from the North Carolina State University College of Textiles, under the supervision of the dean himself, David Chaney. Together, these men came up with a material which looked and felt somewhat similar to grass, but without any of the shortcomings this material possesses; in short, what is nowadays known as turf.
Having created and perfected this material for optimal performance, Chaney and his team began searching for parties potentially interested in a test run. It did not take them long at all to find a considerably prominent ‘guinea-pig’, in the form of baseball team the Houston Astros, based out of the city of the same name in Texas. In 1966, the Astros’ home field, the Astrodome, became the first sports pitch in the world to be covered in commercial artificial grass. It was the beginning of a story which would only go uphill from there.
Once commercial artificial grass had proven its mettle as the playing surface for the Astros, and become known as ‘Astroturf’ as a result, other sports team owners across North American began taking an interest in the material. The late 1960s and early 1970s would see synthetic turf carpets spread across both major and minor league baseball fields, and eventually make their way into American football stadiums as well. Franklin Field, home to the Philadelphia Eagles and the University of Pennsylvania varsity football team, was the first venue to feature commercial artificial grass, but other pitches would soon follow suit, further cementing awareness for the material in public consciousness.
As popular as it was becoming with sports fans, however, commercial artificial grass still had one hurdle left to jump: the residential and landscaping market. Among home-owners, turf continued to be considered a cheap-looking, shoddy material, not at all an alternative to a real grass lawn. This generalised opinion stemmed from the first few artificial turf carpets looking somewhat less than realistic, as well as from the material’s connotation with lower-income homes. As such, commercial artificial grass faced a challenge when trying to prove its worth in the home market.
This challenge would eventually be overcome, but not for another two decades. It was not until the 1990s, more than twenty-five years after it had first been invented, that commercial artificial grass finally gained traction as a valid alternative within the home and garden market. This was largely due to the vastly improved appearance and realism level of modern turf carpets in relation to their predecessors, which helped do away with many of the concerns and prejudices keeping commercial artificial grass from establishing itself a landscaping alternative.
For the following two decades, commercial artificial grass saw its popularity continue to rise, until it could stand side by side with natural grass. Nowadays, many people even consider the material superior to its natural counterpart, at least for certain purposes, and it is expectable that this trend will continue in years to come. It is interesting, however, to think of a time when commercial artificial grass was not as popular as it is today, and to learn exactly how it came to achieve its present standing in society.
Synthetic Grass and Heat
Synthetic grass is the ideal surface for high-performance sports and athletics such as football. When dealing with a sport in which there is high contact involved, performance surfaces are critical. There are several artificial turf products on the market today that are specifically designed for football. Several professional stadiums, high schools, and even local parks have installed artificial turf for football fields. Twenty-one of the thirty-two NFL teams play or practice on synthetic turf fields. Take it from the pros - artificial turf football fields have many benefits.
Unlike regular grass fields that require several gallons of water due to their vast surface areas, artificial grass fields require absolutely no watering whatsoever. This can save large sums of money over time, especially in drier months in which natural fields require more watering. Artificial turf football fields also remain lush and healthy-looking throughout all seasons. Even through the harshest of weather conditions, an entire synthetic grass football field will remain green. Overall maintenance costs for natural costs greatly outweigh that of artificial grass costs when looking at annual maintenance costs.
Field maintenance is minimal with artificial turf. Aerating, brushing, and sweeping are most necessary to maintain the quality of the field. Aerating the turf helps to ensure that the infill layer does not get compacted. Brushing keeps infill level, as well as keeping blades upright and separated. Sweeping is necessary to pull out leaves and other debris that could affect the field surface. Rain, sweat, and other liquids are easily drained with the artificial turf drainage system. It manually drains itself, allowing water to permeate through. This prevents spores, fungus, and bacteria from growing within the turf. From easy maintenance and durability, to safety and cost effectiveness, artificial turf football fields are better than natural grass fields.