Natural Grass vs Synthetic Turf Athletic Field Costs: Part 4

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 sports fields as compared to synthetic turf.

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

Cost Comparison - Yearly Outsourced Labor

Common outsourced labor for high performance natural grass fields includes regularly scheduled deep tine aerification and topdressing. For artificial turf, deep cleaning and disinfecting should be part of the yearly maintenance routine. Keeping track of a field's GMAX measurement should also be considered each year, as well.

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Cost Comparison - Yearly Equipment Maintenance Costs

The most regularly utilized equipment for maintaining high performance natural grass sports fields are a reel mower and an aerator. The purchase price of this equipment is amortized over a number of years. Regular maintenance costs including care for the mower blades and tine replacement for the aerator should be part of the yearly budget. For synthetic turf fields, in addition to the amortized purchase price for a groomer and sweeper, common service and repairs include brush replacement and should be included in the yearly budget as well.

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Cost Comparison - Field Renovation and Resurfacing Costs

About every eight years (some synthetic fields don't last this long, very few fields last longer), the synthetic turf and infill material will need to be replaced on artificial turf sports fields. As long as a facility has this sort of a playing surface, resurfacing will be a large recurring expense for the organization. Renovation costs for high performance natural grass sports fields will likely consist of an occasional re-sodding effort - usually to help address high traffic areas (e.g. between the hashes on a football field).

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Cost Comparison - Yearly Irrigation Costs

A quality irrigation plan is essential for maintaining a high performance natural grass sports field. A good field manager knows how much water a particular field needs throughout the year. Based on typical Texas weather patterns, fields will typically need the least amount of water (~ 1" each week) during the winter and early spring months of Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, March, and April. A slight increase is needed as it warms up in May and June (~ 1.25" each week).

The hottest months of the growing season in July, Aug, Sept, and Oct require the most water (~ 1.75" each week). Some years will require less irrigation water (because of heavier than average rainfall) and other years will require more irrigation water be used (because of drought like conditions).

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