Analysis of the infill in a sand filled synthetic grass pitch
Just imagine that a few years ago you spent thousands of pounds on an all weather hockey pitch, or tennis courts, and as you look out of the window at it now and see ducks wading about on it you’re aware that all is definitely not well. Maybe closer inspection reveals sludge patches, and green ribbons of broken fiber running across the surface? If so then it is a signal that the infill is becoming contaminated with all manner of biological contamination and this has reached such a level where it won’t drain the rain water away, or at least only very slowly.
A quick panic call to a specialist installer might bring back the comment that “Oh yes it’s quite common, but the synthetic grass surface needs replacing at a cost of £ thousands”!! As you stare at the ceiling and wonder why you are lying on the floor, it all comes flooding back. Your groundsman finding you there says “Don’t worry boss we can get the surface tested by Sweepfast, and see if we really do need a new pitch” Following a brief call to Sweepfast, and a site inspection carried out, you are now in possession of a sedimentation test report with the results that show:
the pitch isn’t worn out and actually has only worn a few millimeters from it original height
the infill is contaminated and the levels are well over 10%
the pitch can be “refurbished” for a fraction of the cost of a replacement
Test results in the past have shown, particularly on RAF pitches near the sea where sea gulls spend a lot of time dumping “fuel” on the pitch, contamination levels reach over 70%, and a full refurb and sand replacement have dropped this down to less than 1%.
An indication backed up by facts that the Hydrofast System from Sweepfast is extremely effective at extracting sand from long pile sand filled synthetic grass surfaces, cleaning the pitch to ‘as new’, and even cleaning out the drainage holes in the backing, a thorough job indeed.
For more information call Sweepfast on 0121 747 9255 or simply visit www.sweepfast.com.
I am often asked what we recommend and use for lining artificial grass, and whether the lines should be inlaid into the new pitch or painted on the surface.
If I was installing a new pitch I would have no hesitation with the answer. I would paint all of the lines on the surface with artificial turf paint and be prepared to over-paint them on an annual basis. The reasons for this are twofold, firstly, as the pitch ages huge stresses are applied to the carpet as it contacts and expands during extremes of temperature. Where are the weakest points on the carpets? Where the lines are cut in and cross carpet roll seams, especially where two different coloured lines cross each other.
Secondly I have seen so many pitches that have slightly moved on the shock pad over a period of time with the result that side lines, centre lines etc, are no longer straight. In extreme case we have had to mix STC paint to the same colour as the pitch and then reline over the top with our beam rider.
Next question what do we use? One thing we don’t use is two pack polyurethane paints, although these paints look great when they are applied and last exceptionally well they are, in my opinion a major problem for the following reasons, foot traction is different on the painted line, they can be slippery and also abrasive if someone slides on them, the big problem however is that the lines painted with this material do not wear at the same rate as the rest of the pitch, after a number of years the line will stand proud in high wear areas, this can effect ball roll, especially for hockey, and potentially become a minor tripping hazard.
The above situation occasionally occurs with flexible paints, when repeated applications or certain weather conditions produce a hard and raised build-up of paint.
If problems with raised lines occur we have developed a machine to remove them from certain types of carpet.
To get a free site visit and discuss your particular requirements please call 0121 747 9255, or email email@example.com
A call came into the office a few weeks ago from a customer asking if we could go and inspect the artificial grass pitch at the university site in London, which had been damaged and subsequently repaired by ……………………… When we arrived, the customer said to us “It’s bad” ….. It couldn’t have been a more accurate description of the state of the pitch, and in all my years experience it must be the worst ever. The pitch was now out of use for safety reasons and was costing the university a small fortune in coach trips and pitch hire.
Many of these failures could have been avoided if the previous repairers had not tried to stick seaming tape to seaming tape without first keying the back of one one the tape runs to allow the adhesive to bond. It’s absolutely imperative that the repairers / contractors keep pressing the seams as they are curing if not they will lift and separate, where have I heard that before?
However we agreed to put things right and to this end we sent down three teams of men and machinery to completely cut out the failed joints including the old tape etc etc. and inserted brand new matching material and re-join it to the old pitch and make a safe playable surface again. The time taken? 180 man hours plus 130 sq m of new material and 100 kg of adhesives and hardeners.
Works completed and the pitch re opened, happy days, but it could and should have been avoided, if it had only been done properly in the first place. The lesson? use a contractor with experience in installing and repairing these types of surfaces.
From short pile tennis courts through to water based and sand dressed or filled pitches, the result is the same; everything was going fine then, one morning, the surface starts showing signs of sludge across the surface.
Simplified, the typical drainage scenario on a sand based pitch is as follows; for several years everything appears fine, and drainage is good. Suddenly, the drainage rates slow down and then, after a further year or so, the drainage fails. Water can’t percolate through the surface as it should; the organic contamination in the pitch floats to the surface, water then drains slowly through the lowest spots on the surface, leaving the sludge behind as dark coloured puddles.
Usually, with either a visual assessment or sedimentation testing, it is possible to determine what stage these surfaces are at in their lifespan, in respect of drainage and sedimentation. However, algae nullifies everything. Really rapid blooms can lead to temporary drainage failures, and this has the same result as a conventional drainage failure. Water cannot drain through the surface, even relatively small percentages of contamination can be flushed to the surface and leave the dreaded sludge puddles.
You can remove the sludge from the surface, but as with conventional drainage failures, as soon as it rains again it’s back! You can spray it with any one of the dozen or so chemicals available, keep your fingers and everything else crossed and hope that you have good results!
Moss and algae infestation can be a serious problem on all types of outdoor sports and amenity surfaces.
Failure to treat the algae and moss quickly can eventually mean that only a full refurbishment of the surface will restore the pitch.
Early treatment is essential with a safe and effective moss or algae killer
Moss usually has two growth periods during a year, the first in the autumn, after which the plant produces spores during the winter ready to germinate in the following spring. The second in the spring, when the plant produces spores again ready to germinate in the autumn, thus continuing the life cycle.
Algae is also a serious and potentially hazardous problem on artificial surfaces, particularly water based hockey pitches, as it can severely impede drainage, especially under the present UK weather conditions. If you can see moss on the surface of your court or pitch, you probably already have a significant algal infestation, as the two thrive in the same conditions.
Three easy to spot indicators of the presence of algae on your surface are:
1) a slippery surface
2) dark patches that vary in size
3) a players clean white kit becoming extremely dirty during a game, especially if they fall over
Algae should be treated promptly because of the potentially hazardous conditions it can create for users of the surface.
Try to prevent the moist conditions that favour the establishment of moss and algae by maintaining good surface water infiltration and drainage. Unfortunately, the moist conditions cannot be avoided on a water-based pitch.
Inspect the surface for moss or algae on a regular basis, and treat any outbreaks of moss or algae as and when required.
To treat an infected area effectively, it must be sprayed with a proprietary brand of Moss & Algae Eradicator. This can be applied using tractor mounted sprayers, walkovers and knapsacks at most times of the year, providing conditions are moist.
Spot treatments should be carried out as and when required during the rest of the year.
Sweepfast can offer autumn winter servicing to your surfaces, this may include; sludge removal from the surface, spaying the whole area with an algaecide, working the algaecide such as RBT247 into the surface and re-spraying the surface 7-10 days later, moss is best treated with MMC Pro Which has a fast working time and will continue to clean the surface for many weeks afterwards.