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Preventative artificial turf maintenance is a way to ensure that you get the most out of your artificial turf surface and many of these strategies to prevent needing more rigorous maintenance can be done in house! It is essential to optimise the longevity, practicality and aesthetics or the artificial turf.
Preventative maintenance is another name for ‘regular’ maintenance. It helps to enhance the safety and life expectancy of your astro turf but also contributes to the overall performance standards and general appearance.
There are many reasons why preventative maintenance is necessary:
Firstly, it makes sure that the surface is debris free. This keeps contaminants down to a minimum and keeps the growth of moss and algae down, this keeps the surface looking fresh, safe and blemish free!
Secondly, preventative maintenance ensures that the fibre of the yarn is stood up in its original position to keep the yarn strong making the surface look fresh and highlighting any underlying issues.
Finally, this maintenance helps with the even distribution of the infill on your surface to ensure an even play sports surface. It also allows stability underfoot for play surfaces and sports surfaces in addition to stopping a build-up of infill which could subsequently cause a concrete-like build up within the surface. It keeps the yarn protected from footfall keeping bald patches at bay.
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What Can You Do?
How Can You Encourage Everyone to Look After Your Surface?
Drag brushing (or matting) is an essential preventative maintenance method for maintaining your surface; whether it be a 3g football pitch, playground surface or landscaping area this should be a part of your maintenance programme. When the surface is used every day the infill levels (evenness of rubber levels) can move around the pitch and often head towards the edges and not in the middle of the pitch which is where it is most used. To support the turf fibres, the infill acts as a wearing course to protect the synthetic grass against heavy usage to extend the life of the turf.
Dedicating time each week to drag brush your artificial turf is a must, it can be completed using a drag mat or drag brush attached to a ride on tractor or another suitable maintenance vehicle. This is carried out to groom in the recently applied infill or to bed in a subsequent top-up.
STM recommend that drag brushing is completed after every 10 hours of play.
Contaminants will build up on your artificial turf surface over a period of time. These contaminants are built up from air born particles and can start to build and break up within the surface. Litter and leaves can be picked up but the smaller particles will need to be removed by power sweeping machines. If these contaminants are not removed they can cause drainage problems and reduce the quality of the pitch (becoming hard and compacted).
Power sweeping is the process we carry out using a specialist machine. This piece of machinery has a brush at the front and flicks up the sand and debris off the surface into the front compartment. The front compartment then vibrates sieving the infill from the debris which is then sucked through the machine and into the back compartment whilst the infill falls through the vibrating plate back onto the surface. The brush on the back of the machine then grooms the infill back into the surface evenly, leaving a fresh new look surface.
Regularly monitoring the infill levels is a crucial part of preventative maintenance. This makes sure that there are correct rubber levels being maintained, helping to support the fibre, this can ensure that the performance of the artificial turf is optimised. The infill can protect the carpet fibres from general excessive wear and will help to ensure the longevity of the product.
Infill levels help to protect the artificial turf surface in many different ways. Firstly, the sand/rubber infill acts as a shock absorber for the artificial turf therefore it will take the brunt of the weight rather than the turf itself. This helps to protect the yarn.
The turf surface will likely have tonnes of sand over the top which contribute to the surface performance as it allows the grass blades to stand in the correct direction.
It is normal that within the first few months of having the surface installed, infill levels tend to decrease.
NOTE: If there is a tear in the seam or the turf starts coming away, if infill gets into the surface the abrasiveness of the sand can lead to further seams coming away, it almost has a knock on effect. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you get repairs done as soon as possible. For more information on corrective maintenance.
Specialist de-compaction preventative maintenance is required as this is a form of cleaning and is crucial to ensure that the drainage and purpose of the synthetic turf surface is enhanced. De-compaction is most commonly used on 3G rubber crumb pitches. It works by lifting up the infill that has been compacted into the artificial grass and then settling it in the correct position to allow the yarn to stand up straight and stabilise it. In a way, it is a similar process to power sweeping, with the addition of tines being added to the machine to aggravate the pile and loosen up the compacted infill.
You need to be on the lookout if your artificial grass surface is near trees or other heavy vegetation. Kick boards should be fitted to fencing to reduce debris blowing onto the turf surface and a leaf blower would come in incredibly handy!
Sometimes moss and weeds can become out of control but there is a way to ensure that they do not interfere with the performance of your artificial grass pitch. Moss, weed and algae chemical treatments should be completed about four times yearly to discourage further growth. These should be systematic water-based killer agents and the moss and weeds should be removed after they have died off.
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