Artificial Turf vs Grass for Football Fields

Artificial Turf vs Grass for Football FieldsWhen getting a football field up and running – whether for a school, the community, or the NFL – there are a number of important decisions to make. One of them is whether to have fake grass or real grass installed. 

In the past, people strayed away from artificial turf because it looked and felt fake. That’s not the case anymore. Not only that, but artificial grass has some real benefits over natural grass when installed in a football field. Here is a comparison between artificial turf and real grass for football fields:

1. Foot Traffic Resistance of Synthetic Turf vs Natural Grass

Natural grass can withstand trampling feet for a few hundred hours per year. After heavy play (i.e., multiple games per week), the grass will need to rest. Otherwise, it will look worn and damaged. Dead patches will even begin to form.

That’s not the case with artificial turf. Turf can withstand heavy foot traffic on the playing field for an impressive 3,000 hours of play each year. There is no lengthy resting period required either.

While natural grass looks nice, it can only withstand so much foot traffic before being pummeled into dirt. A residential lawn, for example, may benefit from natural grass without excessive traffic, children playing, or pets roaming. But a football field? That’s another matter altogether.

2. Maintenance Requirements of Fake Grass vs Natural Grass

No matter the lawn, natural or artificial, maintenance is a requirement. The thing about synthetic turf, however, is that maintenance is simple and to the point. You must remove debris, brush the surface, and top off infill levels occasionally. That’s all!

With natural grass, you’re looking at significantly more maintenance and higher costs. The need for mowing, watering, fertilizing, pesticides, and aeration means plenty of downtime. With a sports stadium, all of that maintenance means hiring a crew, purchasing equipment, and spending money from the budget on watering, fertilizer, and pesticide products. It gets expensive fast.

Speaking of expensive, let’s look at the cost of specific maintenance tasks for natural grass.

  • Fertilizer — $6,000
  • Fungicides — $1,500
  • Herbicides — $2,000
  • Topdressing — $3,500
  • Paint — $4,000

These numbers are on the low end, but that’s a total of $17,000 per year. But that’s not all. Many sports stadiums hire full-time and seasonal staff to care for the grounds. You’re looking at many hundreds of man-hours for mowing and painting the lawn.

3. Incidence of Player Injuries on Artificial Grass vs Natural Grass

Another significant benefit of artificial turf relates to player injuries on the field. With many football players enduring serious, life-altering injuries while playing, this is a serious factor to consider.

If you have ever tripped on your lawn at home and slammed your elbow down on the ground, you know firsthand how painful it can be. But when you’re a football player and being tackled to the ground repeatedly, the impact of those falls adds up. This is especially true during the winter, when each fall means slamming down hard onto frozen grass and dirt. The risk of injury is high.

One of the most significant benefits of artificial turf is the rubber pellets that can be added to provide cushioning on a sports field. If a player hits the ground, the cushioning dampens the fall so players can get up and keep playing 

Is Artificial Turf Becoming the Norm?

Although many NFL fields still use natural grass, the majority use turf. Of the NFL’s 31 stadiums across the country, 17 use artificial turf, and 14 use natural grass. As the years go by, artificial turf has risen in popularity and use throughout the country.

Houston’s NRG Stadium recently received AstroTurf to replace the existing natural grass after many complained the field was one of the worst in the league. This decision made many question whether or not the NFL should require artificial turf in all NFL stadiums. 

As you can see, there are many benefits to using artificial turf on a sports field. If you’re looking to create a football field for the community or a school, or if you’re looking to replace the grass in an existing field, contact the artificial turf experts at LawnPop today. We’ll be happy to give you a quote and discuss the benefits of fake grass for your field. Give us a call today at 512-298-0933 to learn more.

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