Trends in Turf: What to Know When Considering Artificial Turf for Your School
Artificial or synthetic turf is a surface made of manmade fibers that looks like natural grass. Turf has become a fast-growing market for a variety of compelling reasons and a popular choice among K-12 district athletics. While there will always be a place for natural grasses, artificial turf offers many benefits for educational organizations and campuses.
Artificial turf was first introduced in the 1960s and has since become a staple in athletics across the globe. There are several synthetic materials that can be manufactured into turf, including polyethylene, polypropylene, and nylon, and can be found in a variety of styles like monofilament, slit-film, or dual fiber. Most of today’s synthetic turf systems include a drainage layer, a multi-layered backing system, and the "grass" blades that are infilled with a small filler like rubber or silica sand.
In education settings, there are many uses and benefits for turf in athletics and beyond. Planning for the variables on site is essential to creating a successful program that utilizes turf. Things to consider and discuss with planning and design experts around turf can include:
- Existing soil conditions
- Stormwater management on site
- Athletic field expected use for sports, community activities, etc.
- Campus and field layout
- Time of year for installation surrounding athletic schedules and climate
Turf has many advantages for schools both financially and functionally. Turf allows schools to dedicate funds previously used to maintain, water, and mow natural grasses to be used on other resources. Turf offers a consistent play and practice experience for students, is extremely durable, provides multiple uses for athletics or playgrounds, and is a hypoallergenic for those with grass allergies. Turf can also be an environmentally friendly option that does not require pesticides, saves thousands of gallons of water used for grass maintenance, and can be made from recycled materials.
Artificial Turf Elevates New Baseball and Softball Fields
As part of a larger bond program, Woodhaven-Brownstown School District was able to transition an open area on their campus that consisted of practice fields and underutilized space into premier baseball and softball fields complete with artificial turf. Extensive planning for the new storm drainage and impact on storm water detention/retention for the site was completed prior to installation. The turf fields help Woodhaven-Brownstown promote a sense of school pride with bold logos and school colors that evoke a collegiate feel to the complex.
Dual Turf Fields Centered Around Player and Fan Experience
West Ottawa Public Schools’ one-of-a-kind athletic complex delivers a world class experience for fans and athletes alike with two turf fields, concessions, and grandstands. There is a strong connection between the east and west fields to create an equitable experience for all stadium users, regardless of activity size. Wet weather no longer affects the fields, which used to flood, and the fields can transition quickly from football to cheerleading to band without the worry of uneven surfaces and holes created during game play. The same synthetic turf, light posts and state-of-the-art AV systems are utilized on both fields, as well as painted lines for men’s and women’s athletics on both fields for interchangeable play.
Multi-Purpose Stadium Fields Get Premier Upgrades
Rockford High School’s Carlson-Munger Stadium underwent a renovation which included new Mondo turf field, new track surfacing, an 18’x33’ scoreboard, new stadium entry, concessions, restrooms, large outdoor plaza, two team rooms, and a remodeled press box. New lights were also installed at the upper turf, an all-purpose field located to the east that hosts lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, youth football, and practices. Rockford is well-known in the area for their strong athletic programs with state-of-the-art, durable facilities that are ready to host state championships, large meets, and tournaments.
Want to learn more?Reach out to one of our design professionals
Matt Heidloff is a landscape architect with experience on a variety of projects from designing parks and green space to athletic fields. He is passionate about helping clients understand options when it comes to natural and artificial turf field design, especially around the latest in industry research on athlete safety.
Nate Bosch is a landscape architect with a focus on developing outdoor spaces that inspire creativity, promote flexibility, and connect people to the natural environment. He is passionate about the outdoors and how spending time in nature can have a positive impact on learning, development, and our overall wellbeing.
Tim Gerrits leads our Sports practice and has combined a background in landscape architecture with a passion for sports and competition. With over 25 years of experience, Tim has designed more than 45 tennis facilities, including over 175 post-tensioned concrete courts.
© 2023 GMB Architecture + Engineering