It is a common misnomer that a synthetic pitch has no maintenance requirements. Whilst the maintenance does not need to be complex or costly it does need to be consistent and effective whether the surface be Sand Dressed, Sand Filled or 3G. Curtis Allen, Synthetic Specialist at Charterhouse Turf Machinery, explains.
The footfall over a synthetic surface will compact the infill and flatten the fibres; the surface will become hard under foot, drainage ability will be reduced and if the fibres are no longer supported they will lay horizontal. If left like that, and play continues, the most vulnerable part of the fibre is exposed to loading and UV – causing premature wear and breakage to reduce the overall expected life. The Groundsman’s most effective, yet simple, tool here is the ‘Brush’. This will move infill around the surface, help alleviate compaction and stand fibres up. It should take no more than 45 minutes to cover a full size surface and should be conducted at least once for every ten hours of use. A brush like the Redexim Verti-Broom™ can be towed by a small tractor, ride-on buggy or ATV.
When calculating a maintenance regime it is important to tie it to the usage – the idea of brushing every ten hours refers to the entire pitch area being used in the normal fashion by, say, twenty two players. But this may not always be the case as the surface can sometimes accommodate up to three games of eighteen players each which increases the total pairs of feet to fifty four (plus staff, referees and parents). The following calculations can help when deciding maintenance requirements. The higher the factor Ӿ figure becomes the more maintenance will be required.
The calculator shows that a five-a-side site, despite its smaller area and fewer players for the same amount of hours per year, requires more maintenance than the full size surface. If we do the same calculation on the full sized site, but with the 54 players on the site, we get a figure of 13.5 to make an increase in maintenance of 145% to compensate for the additional footfall.
When it comes to surface cleaning, again a little and often approach is most effective. Most material on the surface is natural debris and detritus, which if left can get trodden on and broken down into the surface. This will then migrate downwards causing drainage problems but machines like the Redexim Verti-Clean™ have proved invaluable to correct this.
Obviously brushing and cleaning is not the complete solution, more intensive cleaning to remove the build-up of finer materials and particles will be required. Synthetic surfaces unintentionally work as a water purification system, allowing water to pass through with the infill trapping dust, dirt etc. Something like the Redexim Verti-Top™ will aid de-compaction and prevent the surface reaching saturation point by sweeping out the top layer; sieving the material to collect the large pieces of debris and collecting smaller particles via a vacuum system.