With the warmer weather here, people will be spending more time outdoors. Even if you've given up grass or sod for artificial turf, there are still several maintenance considerations you should take into account. Proper upkeep of your field can not only prevent injury and preserve the appearance of your facility, but it can save you money also.
Proper maintenance starts with cleanliness
The simplest and most common maintenance operation you'll be carrying out in the upkeep of your artificial turf is simple cleaning. This needs to happen on two levels. Begin by removing any trash, litter or other large debris, as these ruin the look of your grass and can cause safety hazards. Once the surface is clean, you may need to do a deeper-level cleaning. Rinsing the turf with water can help wash away dirt, dust, sand or other small particles that get caught underneath the fibers. Use a garden hose for this, not a power washer, which can strip away fibers from your turf and shorten its lifespan. Of course, if you live in an area that gets a lot of rain, feel free to let Mother Nature take on the bulk of the heavy lifting in this regard.
Watch out for weeds
If you've ever walked out on to your field and noticed weeds growing up through your artificial turf, you know that it's a common experience, if also a bizarre one. Don't think that just because your grass isn't real that it's immune to weeds - they can grow through cracks in the surface and infill and mar the appearance of your field just like they would one with real grass. Consult the manufacturer of your turf to determine which weed removal products are safe to use without damaging your surface. As an extra precaution, you can spray your field with a mixture of vinegar and clove oil prior to the rainy season, when weeds start to germinate.
Preserve your softer side
Many administrators opt for artificial turf as a means of reducing injury. However, over time, continued use and the accumulation of dirt beneath the fibers of the grass can cause the surface to harden. In these instances, your artificial grass may be a hazard rather than a preventive measure. Monitor your turf, especially if your field sees a lot of use, to make sure the grass hasn't hardened. If you use chalk or paint to mark lines or end zones, these can also cause the grass to harden prematurely, so be extra aware. Aside from the grass itself, the lower infill layer can also become compacted and hardened over time. Inspect both of these elements regularly, and call your turf manufacturer if you think infill rejuvenation is required - it's less expensive than a full replacement.
The infill of your artificial turf can also create maintenance and safety issues in another way. Over periods of extended use, the infill particles can become displaced, moving around or getting kicked up. This causes lumps in your field, similar to a blister, and they are a significant tripping hazard for athletes. You can take care of this problem by using a shag carpet rake to redistribute the infill. For smaller areas and quick fixes you can even use a hairbrush. For older fields where the infill has been significantly displaced, you may want to consider using a vacuum to collect all the scattered particles before redistributing them onto the surface of the field.