Choose your Infill First
Over the years, schools have continued to discover the value of replacing natural grass with artificial turf. From saving operating expenses on maintenance to enjoying a perpetually green field and consistent playing surface, artificial turf seems a quite obvious choice. However, developing a timeline for installing new artificial turf must be approached with dedication and patience.
It’s Not an Overnight Thing
Sports field renovations often accompany the need to upgrade peripheral infrastructure. Lighting, bleachers, tracks, parking areas, bathrooms, and locker rooms comprise only some of the rapidly aging structures. Therefore, older schools tend to bundle new artificial turf installation with a range of other upgrades, especially in the case of school levies earmarked for such.
These bundled improvement projects obviously extend the timeline for installing new artificial turf. Depending on your peripheral improvements (e.g., track, bleachers, lighting, concessions, or restrooms), your timeline might extend out a few years, requiring some patience and diligence during each step of the process.
The process includes collecting bids, awarding the project, and the completion of permits from local government agencies. It may take several months to ensure every step is completed correctly. Clearly, just replacing a natural field with artificial turf is not as simple and quick as it might appear. In fact, you may need to allocate a whole season, depending on the scope of the project. Having a backup field, practice field, or another school’s field to use while your project is under construction proves a huge asset.
Step 1: Determine How Many Improvements You Want to Bundle
Your board or planning committee should know whether your improvements require more than just a new field surface. Is the track outdated? Worn out or even hazardous? Are your bleachers falling apart? Do you need restrooms close to the field? What about a concession facility? All these bundled improvements will determine what needs to be done first. They will also determine your timeline for installing new artificial turf.
Step 2: Develop Your Plan and Timeline
The contractor(s) must know your timeline for installing new artificial turf when bidding on your project. This will determine what comes first, especially if peripheral improvements come into play. Make sure your timeline fully accounts for all the desired improvements. Cost comes into play here. When budgeting, make sure you cover all the improvements. If your timeline for installing new artificial turf must be extended due to exterior factors (i.e., severe weather or natural catastrophe), your costs may rise. Put a fundraising plan in place to raise the extra funds in the case of such an occurrence.
Step 3: Choose Your Turf System and High-Quality Infill
Long before the artificial grass is installed, you must tackle one of the most critical decisions in this entire process: choosing the turf system components including the type of shock pad, type of turf fibers and most importantly, the right infill. Infill goes directly into the fibers of the artificial turf and affects the “life span" of your new artificial turf. You must know exactly what you want from your artificial turf before choosing your infill. Do you want a surface that fights bacteria and odor? Do you want a surface whose shock absorption excels or one that is environmentally friendly?
There are so many infill choices, and different infills offer one or more of the aforementioned qualities. This is where our online turf system recommender can help. The USGreentech team would be more than happy to advise you on the strengths and weaknesses of each infill and help you select the one that best suits your needs. Depending on its desired properties, the cost of infill will vary. However, your infill is one of the most critical factors when considering the longevity, quality and ongoing maintenance requirements of your new artificial turf. Therefore, when choosing your infill, use all the “game clock” you need in your timeline for installing new artificial turf to make the infill choice that’s best for you.
Step 4: Remove the Old Field
First, you must remove the grass and other vegetation from the field to receive the artificial turf. Excavation equipment, fill soil, leveling, soil packing, and many other processes factor into the removal and preparation of the old field surface. It must be level, solid, and ready to receive the artificial turf. This can take weeks (up to a month) or even longer if additional areas, such as a track or old lighting and bleachers, must also be removed. Be sure to include this in your timeline for installing new artificial turf.
Step 5: Install the Field & Other Improvements
Depending on the sports turf contractor selected to install the artificial turf field, the actual installation process can take 3-6 weeks. Weather and other unexpected circumstances could cause construction delays. First, the contractor will install the shock absorption pad. Next, the installers will lay the 15-foot turf carpet rolls and either sew or glue each piece together. Last but certainly not least, the infill you chose will be installed into the turf fibers.
Step 6: Enact a Maintenance Plan
Whether your project spans 12 months or 24 months, once the field is player ready, be sure to train your staff in proper maintenance. Though you no longer will be spending money on fertilizing, aerating, or excessive watering, some simple maintenance tasks are required to extend the life of your new artificial turf. Maintenance requirements may include tasks such as grooming of the turf fibers, clearing of any debris, and ensuring an adequate infill depth is maintained. Our expert artificial turf specialists will be able to fully advise you in this regard. Enact your maintenance plan before the crowds fill the bleachers and the players file out of the locker room and be sure to include maintenance training in your timeline for new artificial turf.