There has been a great deal of development in synthetic turf pitches in recent years, carpet technology has adapted, requirement for surfaces has increased and people's perception of synthetic turf is changing.
The list of advantages of a synthetic pitch is endless it would seem; a one-off investment; playable in all weathers; usable all year round; larger revenue streams - all with no maintenance requirements.
But what if this was not entirely true? Curtis Allen, synthetic specialist at Charterhouse Turf Machinery, explains what to do on a regular basis.
Regular maintenance does not need to be complex or costly, but it does need to be consistent and effective.
When a synthetic turf surface is in use, the footfall will naturally compact the infill and flatten the fibres; the infill is imperative in supporting the fibres.
These fibres standing vertically ensure the correct playing characteristics are met and the surface gives all important traction and ball bounce which the player demands.
It is necessary to move the infill around the surface to prevent it from compacting and locking. Should the infill compact, the surface will become hard under foot, drainage ability will be reduced and inevitably the fibres will no longer be supported causing them to lay horizontally.
This is where the simplest and most effective tool any groundsman will own should be utilised - The Brush. While not the most engaging of descriptions, this tool will do far more than any other when used correctly at the right intervals.
As a rule of thumb, the surface should be brushed once in every ten hours of use. This does not mean it is possible to spend five times longer brushing it after fifty hours play - consistency is the key here.
The brush should move infill around the surface, help alleviate compaction and stand fibres up. It should also look like the surface has been brushed and take no more than 45 minutes to cover a full size surface.
However, it is common place to see an operator spending some 2 hours carrying out maintenance of a surface with the result that nothing really seems to have been done! Invariably this is due to the wrong type of brush or method: a very frustrating situation for all involved.
If we can keep the time it requires down, then it is more likely the task will get completed and if it looks different after we have completed the task, we will get more satisfaction from it.
So using the correct equipment is the key here. Always ensure the brush is doing what it should be - standing fibres up - if it is not then consider the Redexim Verti-Broom.
This will preen the surface, redistribute infill, stand the fibre up and can be towed by a small tractor, ride-on buggy or ATV. Other 'brush' products in the Redexim range include the Verti-Comb, Base-Rake and Verti-Groom, and are at the larger end of the scale.
It is not necessary to utilise tines in the maintenance of surfaces. They can prove beneficial in re-instating some neglected longer pile (3G) surfaces but on a day to day basis they will not tend to benefit and may damage the surface.
It is not advisable to use any sort of tine on a sand dressed or sand filled surface, these tighter knit, denser pile surfaces will not accept this action and will be susceptible to damage.
Of course brushing is not the complete answer to maintaining a synthetic surface. These facilities will also require some more intensive cleaning to remove finer materials and particles that will have built up.
It is also the nature of synthetic surfaces to unintentionally work as a cleaning system for the water which passes through, with the infill trapping dirt, dust etc. until the surface will no longer allow the water to pass through.
Redexim has an array of machinery for de-compaction and infill cleaning when brushing alone becomes ineffective.