Spring is upon us! For some, that might sound like birds chirping in the early hours of the morning, kids playing ball in the back yard, or your next-door neighbor firing up his lawn mower too early again. Spring, in my childhood home, sounded like the whirring of a washing machine and the scrubbing of gloriously grass-stained socks, shirts, and pants from my previous game (sorry Mom!).
However, in the Springs to come, it seems laundry may look a little different. The soaring cost of natural grass field maintenance paired with the desire to conserve water has led to an increase in synthetic turf implementation. With the expanding use of artificial turf for all sorts of fields, the whirring will quiet while washing machines and parents everywhere get a little break.
Although we may do away with the laborious post-game laundry and the satisfaction of sporting a ‘stain of honor’ – these turf products will make way for much more…
Rachel Frnka with Act Global reports FIFA quality turf can withstand 3,000 hours of play per year, with no down time required…while natural turf allows roughly 700 hours per year with rest required after heavy play and undesired conditions. The maintenance required for synthetic turf includes clearing debris, surface brushing, and topping off infill – while natural grass requires mowing, watering, fertilizing, and more. For every square meter of grass replaced with turf, 2,200 gallons of water are saved per year. This equates to a standard artificial turf field saving anywhere between 500,000 and one million gallons of water annually (not to mention to water saved on the laundry front).
The initial cost of investing in such a technology may seem steep – however, synthetic turf makes a full return on investment over a span of three to four years. If you compare natural grass to synthetic turf over a period of twenty years, artificial turf is over three times cheaper per event than the cost of a natural grass field. Not only is synthetic turf a cost-effective investment, it has also been proven that risk of injury on synthetic turf is no different than that of natural grass.
All this said, don’t say goodbye to the “old ballgame” and all its outdoor glory just yet. Implementing synthetic turf fields will only extend the season, allowing play throughout the year. The crack of the bat and closely called outs make the game as exciting as ever, regardless of field material. Future little leaguers will still get to experience the pleasure of sliding into second base in a cloud of dust and will have plenty to gain with more opportunities to play.
So, cheers to Spring and more baseball! Opening day is here…and after a preseason on turf fields, there just might be parents anxiously awaiting a grass stain or two.
Let’s play ball!
John Dierdorf, AIA
Principal, Chairman of the Board