Astroturf is synthetic turf for use on play grounds. It was first used in 1965 and has since been laid in many playgrounds all over the world gradually replacing natural grass turf over the years. Astroturf users’ claim that it is has lower maintenance costs making it cheaper, safer for athletes to play on, retains its characteristics, and saves space just to mention a few.
Natural turf on the other side has been in use since ancient times. Normally this is just natural grass grown on the play fields and maintained well. It has its advantages ranging from low cost of installation, environment friendly among others. So the question is which of these two is the best option?
Let us compare them on the following areas: Installation (initial) cost, maintenance cost, athlete safety and time. In my comparison I will use the basic synthetic field for Astroturf and soil-based grass field for natural turn
Installation/ Initial cost
This is the cost for laying down the Astroturf inclusive of the site leveling and for preparation planting grass in the case of natural turf. Normally, the cost of site excavation and leveling will be the same for both cases. The difference will be on the cost of the turf used. Looking at Express Grass they are selling 2m by 4m budget Astroturf at 4.99 sterling pounds. That only covers 8 square meters.
A soccer field is 7,140 square meters. This will need 7140/ 8 = 893 of these turfs. This brings the cost to 4,456.07 pounds to buy just enough to cover the playing field plus labor costs.
Natural turf which is grass requires only manure and fertilizers to make the soil fertile and grass to be bought for planting. This will most likely cost you less than 3,000 pounds plus labor costs. Clearly Natural turf takes the day here.
This is mainly the cost incurred over the lifetime of the turf used to keep it in best condition possible. In the case of natural turf, watering is a must for the grass not to dry up, frequent adding of nutrients to the soil is another maintenance cost associated with this turf. Mowing the field frequently is a must. This technically means there has to be a grounds person working on it every day.
Astroturf requires cleaning on larger intervals which is done by professionals. No recurring expenses such as watering, fertilizers and permanent labor. This makes Astroturf the better option in terms of maintenance costs.
Much has been said on the issue of athlete safety on both of these turfs. Some statistics posted on some websites show athletes favoring natural turf while others will show them leaning on Astroturf side. This is generally tastes and preferences of playing for each athlete is bound to vary.
Looking at the fields, it is common for the soil-based field to be unbalanced with some regions higher than others which may be caused by some notorious insects such as ants digging holes in it. This causes the ground not to be in level which may cause athletes to stumble and fall getting injured in the process.
The artificial turf usually remains leveled as the turf is not attacked by insects. The high temperatures in it during the day will most likely kill any insect in it. This makes sure the ground remains level hence more secure for athletes to play on it minimizing cases of injuries.
This makes natural turf more expensive in the sense that, more will be spend on treating the athletes and maintaining the fields and also in the lost services the athlete would have offered the club he is playing for.
In this area we will compare on the time each turf can be used. Artificial grass obviously offers longer playground use since it doesn’t require very frequent field maintenance like the natural turf. Time is money hence we can say Astroturf safes money in having more play time.