Natural Grass vs Synthetic Turf Athletic Field Costs: Part 3

This is part of a blog post series intended to be an accurate and unbiased discussion of sports field construction and maintenance costs for high performance natural grass athletic fields as compared to synthetic turf.

Natural Grass vs Synthetic Turf: A Comparison of Construction and Yearly Maintenance Costs

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Cost Comparison - Typical New Field Installation Costs

Natural Grass - ~$250K

  • New internal drainage system
  • New irrigation system
  • Kill and remove old grass
  • Install 6 to 7 inches of imported sand-based topsoil
  • Close tolerance grading with laser grading system
  • Plant solid sod hybrid bermudagrass
  • Topdress new sod after installation

Synthetic Turf - ~$900K

  • New internal drainage system
  • Remove existing topsoil and grass
  • Install base layers and gravel
  • Install underlay pad
  • Install new synthetic turf
  • Install new infill/sand material

Cost Comparison - Yearly Maintenance Labor

For a high performance natural grass playing surface, the most common maintenance labor items that should be budgeted are frequent mowing, painting, and aerification along with other common things like minor irrigation repair and regular fertilization.

For artificial turf, regular patching and cleaning of the field should occur, as well as sweeping and grooming.

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Cost Comparison - Yearly Materials

Keeping a natural grass sports field looking great requires materials such as fertilizer, insecticide, herbicide, rye seed (if overseeding), field marking paint, topdressing sand, and perhaps some special turf treatments (to help improve a root zone's nutrient intake, for example). Synthetic turf doesn't require very much in the way of maintenance materials. It's usually a good idea to have some extra infill material on hand should certain areas of a field need it.

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