Football Playing Surfaces
There are primarily two types of football playing surfaces: natural grass and artificial turf. Artificial turf was first installed in the Houston Astrodome, the first indoor stadium to be used for both football and baseball. Because the arena was domed, there was no sunlight to allow natural grass to grow, so to realize the dream of the complex, an alternative had to be created. Synthetic turf caught on as its other advantages were gradually discovered, particularly in regard to how little maintenance it required relative to natural grass fields. Over time, synthetic turf has been developed and improved to further replicate the look, feel, and behavior of true grass. Eventually, even outdoor stadiums were equipped with synthetic turf, providing athletes with practice fields for all seasons that would withstand all types of weather.
Challenges of Natural Turf
The largest issues of a natural turf field all involve maintenance. Natural fields require plenty of effort and care to stay looking healthy and keep a thick mat for game and event days. Grass is the largest (and most highly irrigated) crop in the United States. Even a household lawn will consume hundreds of gallons of water each day. For maintaining a professional field, the expenses add up even more quickly. Natural fields also need attentive mowing, fertilizing, and replanting. Cleats ripping up chunks of the field as well as heavy wear from tackles, running, and sliding create unsightly patches that take away from the aesthetics of a field if new growth cannot spring up in time for games. For large events such as graduations, large numbers of people standing, walking, and sitting on the field as well as event staging equipment like platforms and chairs can also cause extensive damage to the appearance and integrity of a natural field.
Another type of problem with natural grass is that not everyone can enjoy it equally. People with allergies may suffer intensely from the growth, especially during major growing seasons. For this reason, it may be especially wise for schools, parks, and recreational clubs to install a synthetic turf field. This way more people will be able to participate in field sports and enjoy outdoor activities.
Artificial Turf Solutions
Synthetic turf neatly works around these problems. While artificial turf fields still require periodic maintenance, such as brushing, aerating, and raking (to prevent compaction of the infill and remove debris from the surface of the field), they do not bear the same environmental consequences or require the same level of care. This makes them excellent options for turf installation.