Turf versus Synthetic

TURF VERSUS SYNTHETIC

Despite its hugely more expensive initial installation cost compared to real grass, the perception that synthetic turf has maintenance advantages has seen it grow in popularity.

It’s use in sports fields is popular, despite recent European Union statements expressing concerns about the environmental impact of synthetic turf and rumours that it was facing a ban.

The European Union will not ban artificial turf pitches, at least yet, but the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) is looking at alternatives, as this material is an important source of microplastics.  Artificial turf pitches “are a substantial source of microplastics to the environment”, between 18,000 and 72,000 tonnes per year.

Village Green is in favour of natural grass, naturally! But to help dispel a few myths that have built up around the debate over ‘real versus synthetic’, we’ve put forward a bit of a case for Village Green turf.

COMFORT –

In hot climates, synthetic turf heats up to the point of being unusable. It’s made of plastic.

Turf is always available and soft and cool underfoot. On the same hot day, turf has been measured at 33 degrees compared to an untouchable 65 degrees for synthetic!

DURABILITY –

Contact sports such as rugby and football require a smooth, safe playing surface. For far lower installation costs, Village Green turf, with its deep root system, provides incomparable playing surfaces that stand up to the toughest sports action.

No player that ever fell over has wished they did so on synthetic turf. Not one. Ever.

SAFETY – 

Research published in 2019 in the US showed that synthetic turf caused a massive increase in knee injuries in American football (up to 213% higher). The report found that synthetic turf is unable to easily release players’ studded soles in potential injurious situations; in contrast, natural grass can shear, divot and allow boots to slide, resulting in reduced force and stress on players’ lower bodies, particularly the knee. These results are equally relevant to football (soccer) and rugby, as they involve the same footwear and physicality.

MAINTENANCE –

While synthetic turf doesn’t require mowing, it is still subject to mould and algae growth, requiring regular applications of chemicals such as TurfGuard. Weekly lawn watering is also recommended to remove dust, dirt, or pollen. Occasionally watering your synthetic grass lawn also helps prevent unequal distributions of the artificial infill under the plastic matting.

Pet excrement and other spills require stain removal.

A relatively simple maintenance schedule ensures turf always looks at its best, and it will not end up in landfill after 10-15 years.

Further reading

A comprehensive information page has been compiled by Turf Australia, with detailed information and articles on all aspects of the turf versus synthetic decision.

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