Going green…..

David Chaney headed the team who created the first notable artificial turf.
It first came to prominence in 1965, when AstroTurf was installed in the newly-built Astrodome in Houston, Texas. The use of AstroTurf and similar surfaces became widespread in the 1970s and was installed in both indoor and outdoor stadiums used for baseball and football in the United States and Canada.
Maintaining a grass playing surface indoors, while technically possible, is prohibitively expensive, while teams who chose to play on artificial surfaces outdoors did so because of the reduced maintenance cost.
The artificial grass industry has been growing ever since…

Cold Comfort
The harsh winter is continuing to take its toll on artificial surfaces across the country. Mistakenly labelled as ‘all-weather’, many gardens have been all but unusable during the recent snowfall, with some still experiencing problems even after the snow had thawed.
If maintained correctly, an artificial surface should be useable in most weathers. However, the one element that gardens cannot necessarily withstand is a drop in temperature and the inevitable frost and freezing conditions that ensue.
During the winter months an artificial surface will retain a large moisture content and inevitably this moisture will freeze, causing the surface to become hard and often unsafe to play on. It is not uncommon for the surface to remain frozen even when surrounding natural grass areas have thawed. This is due to the low core temperature of the surface and the insulating effect that the infill and carpet creates.
This can then be compounded with snowfall, which will quickly settle on the surface and stay for a longer period as it sits on the frozen carpet. Again, the snow will often melt quicker on surrounding natural grass and hard-standing areas before it melts on the synthetic surface, due to the insulated low core temperature of the surface.
On most artificial surfaces, it is unlikely that much can be done to remove snow from the area in the short-term, especially without a suitable area to store large piles of snow. If you do consider clearing snow from your surface, it is vital that this is done when the snow first falls. If allowed to thaw and re freeze it will be almost impossible to remove the ice without damaging the surface, as it will stick to the carpet. Snow clearing should only be completed with the appropriate machinery and tools; snowploughs can be utilised, but the drive unit should be suitable in size for your surface, and the plough blade should also be made of a suitable material. Rubber-flanged blades will help to protect the surface from damage. Alternatively, powered brushes could be used, but you should check that the bristles are manufactured to an appropriate specification so as not to damage the carpet.
In both cases, operator experience is crucial so as not to remove any infill as well as the snow at the same time. Attempting to take off large amounts of snow from a synthetic surface can affect infill levels in this way, and if left unremedied, infill displacement can weaken the fibres and increase the rate at which the carpet wears, compromising the characteristics and foreshortening the life expectancy of the surface. A specialist maintenance contractor can carry out granular top-ups to restore infill levels.
In recent weeks, dirt, leaf debris and other detritus is also likely to have become trapped on some surfaces beneath the quick-falling snow, unable to be removed and so left to decompose into the carpet. As long as the surface is being adequately maintained throughout the rest of the year this should not pose too severe a problem, but in all cases it is important to remove any trapped debris by brushing the surface as soon as possible.

Failing to regularly remove debris from an artificial surface will cause contamination of the infill, which in turn prevents water from draining freely through the carpet. Once the snow has melted, most surfaces should return to normal, their drainage systems able to withstand the volume of water. which
Following a thaw, artificial surfaces should be thoroughly inspected to check for any carpet damage. During periods of extreme cold, the contraction and expansion of the water as it thaws and re-freezes will ‘blow’ the carpet seams in much the same way as bursting pipes If the carpet has not been adequately bonded together, a synthetic surface exposed to freezing temperatures may also suffer the effects of weak or split seams. Such areas pose a trip hazard and must be repaired at the earliest opportunity.
Whilst snow presents its own unique problems with little that can be done, a frozen or frosty surface can often be prevented by applying a specialist PDV (pure dried vacuum) salt to the surface. Such a product has few impurities so is less likely to cause damage or contamination to the surface. Other products such as rock salt or grit should be avoided, as once dissolved they could cause contamination and damage to the surface. Chemical-based solutions do work, although they can be costly and offer little in the way of residue life. PDV salt should be considered as a preventative anti-freeze application rather than a de-icer, and one application will not necessarily provide a long term remedy.
If your artificial surface is affected by snow, the easiest – though not always the most convenient – solution is to accept that nothing can be done and not use the area until it thaws and becomes safe to use. Thankfully, whilst snow can be debilitating to such facilities in the UK, it currently poses only an infrequent and temporary inconvenience. Whether that remains the case in the long-term is a topic for debate amongst climatologists, and investigations may well need to be made into the option of under-surface heating, at least for top-level facilities which can’t afford to remain unused.
Jason Link is Sales Manager for Sow Link
Tel 08702 400 700.

Hi-Tech Turf are installers and distributors of UK manufactured artificial grass. Installations are carried out by teams all over the UK. The wealth of experience Hi-Tech Turf have now built in the artificial grass market has allowed them to share their expertise in the form of training for landscapers who are offering artificial grass installation as part of their landscaping service. All the artificial grasses can be bought direct from Hi-Tech Turf and will be delivered to site if required. Hi-Tech Turf were one of the first artificial grass distributor to offer a recycled product to the market in 2010.
They offer a wide range of products suitable for a variety of applications, both domestic and commercial. If installing the grass in play areas the turfs can be complimented with safety impact matting to create critical fall heights under play equipment. Hi-Tech Turf’s top of the range product is Vision, this product is manufactured from a recycled yarn and has been developed further following the success of the initial recycled product offered in 2010. The turf has a 30mm pile height and provides the look of a lush lawn that looks real and feels fantastic. The element of the grass that has been manufactured from recycled materials incorporates 15 plastic bottles per square metre. At the middle of the range there is the extremely popular Finesse turf, this is a very soft, multi coloured, dense surface with a 25mm pile height. A lush realistic appearance has been achieved with this turf by the incorporation of a two-tone brown thatch layer. For areas of heavy use the extremely hard wearing Aspire is perfect, the blade will remain straight and true even after heavy use and the two contrasting colours will provide the appearance of a well kept lawn.
Tel 01244 289 182.
Perfect Lawn was the solution for many following last summer’s drought conditions across much of the country. And it’s not just dry weather that creates problems; prolonged wet weather conditions can turn busy family garden space into a muddy mess.
Artificial lawn technologies are constantly evolving and improving; Perfect Lawn offers alternative grass options that look and feel like the real thing. Furthermore, Perfect Lawn is working with their manufacturing partners to create artificial grass systems which offer an environmental solution.
Perfect Lawn’s manufacturing partner, TigerTurf, have developed a revolutionary new type of turf thanks to state-of the-art patented technology.
Vision is a synthetic turf landscaping product that utilises recycled plastic bottles to produce a grass that not only carries green credentials but is also the most natural looking surface on the market.
With the average person getting through 45kg of plastic a year and an average-sized lawn needing 9,000 recycled drinks bottles to be made, choosing to install Vision in your garden means you could be recycling up to six people’s yearly consumption of plastic.
Since the creation of Vision, installers, landscape gardeners and home owners agree it is without doubt the most natural looking synthetic turf they have ever seen.
Tel 07786 987 215

Evergreens UK are one of the longest established and largest stockist of artificial grass products to the trade and public. With 3 warehouses, the latest cutting, rolling and packaging machines and a huge stock capacity, Evergreens UK offer a super fast turnaround on the smallest to the largest of orders.
Evergreens UK are constantly pushing the standards in product development and installation methods and have recently released a new exclusive collection of trade products and opportunities.
Evergreens UK also boast unique CAD cutting technology to produce bespoke play area surfaces. Evergreens UK can insert almost any text or image into an artificial surface to any size or shape. The results are fantastic with excellent benefits versus wet pour and other play area systems.
Tel 01572 768208

Artificial turf


Artificial turf maintenance is becoming increasingly important in 21st century sport. From leisure centres and schools to top-level pitches, the benefits of synthetic sports surfaces are recognised throughout the sports industry, and it is vital that these facilities are maintained to the correct standard to ensure that their full potential is realised. A programme of routine and specialist maintenance throughout the life of a synthetic pitch can help to ensure its longevity and safety, as well as preserving its aesthetics and performance levels.
T he Rugby Football Union, Football Association and Football Foundation have identified in their Framework Agreement for the Provision of Artificial Grass Pitches that an improvement in the overall quality of synthetic surfaces at the community club level is integral to their future collective use of 3rd Generation artificial turf pitches.
This Framework Agreement outlines the responsibility of artificial turf manufacturers to project manage the design, construction and ongoing maintenance of the new facilities. Within this, particular focus is given to the need for the pitches to satisfy certain performance criteria, to ensure a high standard of playing surface is provided to end users. From a maintenance perspective, manufacturers are required to identify the individual maintenance needs of each surface, based on determining factors including pitch size and projected usage levels.
But the responsibilities to maintenance do not end there; the Framework Agreement further stipulates that the programme of works must be reviewed regularly, and should be revised to reflect any changes in usage levels or pitch performance. In line with the overall emphasis on quality control, a suitable maintenance programme is deemed a pre-requisite to ensuring a pitch’s compliance with the Manufacturer’s Warranty.
For specialist contractors such as Technical Surfaces, the UK’s leading artificial pitch maintenance provider, the contents of the Framework Agreement represents real progress towards a greater understanding of the importance of regular and specialist maintenance to the longevity of a synthetic sports surface. Indeed, it is symptomatic of an industry-wide trend towards a re-evaluation of existing standards and conventions.
This shift in thinking from top-level sporting bodies is welcomed by Technical Surfaces, whose own maintenance services are structured to reflect the key requirements of each unique sports surface. With more than 500 maintenance contracts across the UK, Technical Surfaces prides itself on offering a flexible service to its customers, tailoring bespoke packages that take into account such factors as available budgets, pitch usage and the level of in-house maintenance being carried out by any on-site grounds teams.
Beyond this, Technical Surfaces also conducts annual surface inspections – detailed evaluations of the factors affecting player performance and pitch endurance, such as carpet pile wear, infill distribution and drainage capabilities. Inspections also allow for the life expectancy of a synthetic surface to be monitored at regular intervals. In keeping with the requirements of the Framework Agreement, such inspections give Technical Surfaces the opportunity to assess the maintenance programme currently in place, making amendments to the frequencies and / or specialist processes involved as necessary.

Tel: +44 (0) 8702 400700


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