Want to Play on Synthetic Turf?
Advantages of Synthetic Turf
Synthetic turf is a grass-like surface material made of synthetic fibers that replicates natural grass. However, unlike natural grass, synthetic turf is very durable and can withstand virtually unlimited play. There are many benefits of synthetic turf fields, including:
- Rain drains off of the field quickly, so it can be used all year round in a variety of weather conditions.
- Synthetic turf fields maintain their resilient qualities over time and will not stiffen, thus enabling athletes to enjoy a consistent natural bounce to the surface throughout the life of the field.
- Maintenance is minimal; there is no mowing, irrigation, fertilization, weed control, aeration or over-seeding required.
- The turf is non-abrasive and allows athletes to pivot or slide on the turf surface without risk of “turf burn” injuries.
Like many urban and suburban areas, the use of Arlington‘s grass fields far exceeded the amount of play that the fields could provide and still remain in good condition. Arlington was on a continual cycle of removing fields from play to install new sod; aerating, fertilizing, and reseeding to try and maintain that sod; still seeing the turf die from overuse; and then restarting the whole process over again.
Synthetic Turf Fields in Arlington
All of Arlington’s synthetic turf fields adhere to Synthetic Turf Council (STC) Guidelines and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) requirements, including those for physical property characteristics, permeability, relative abrasiveness, lead content and impact attenuation. Each field is tested annually to ensure it meets or exceeds national standards for shock absorption and impact attenuation.
Arlington is strategically moving forward with synthetic turf fields. All of the stadium fields at Arlington’s three high schools are underlain with shock-absorbing pads, which have been proven to reduce the number and severity of concussions. Arlington continues to monitor research on crumb rubber made from recycled tires. Arlington has also used an alternative infill at recent synthetic turf installations at Williamsburg Middle School and Greenbrier Park/Yorktown High School. These fields use EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) for the infill, which resembles crumb rubber and plays like crumb rubber, but is not made from recycled materials.
The initial investment for the installation of a full-size, synthetic turf field is more costly than for a high-quality, natural grass field. However, natural grass fields are much more expensive to maintain and a synthetic turf field can support as much as five times the amount of play as natural grass, even in bad weather, without degrading the field.
Arlington County is committed to the safety of our patrons and maintains Arlington County fields to meet the highest standards for synthetic turf safety. At this time, all independent studies report that “the preponderance of evidence shows no negative health effects associated with crumb rubber in synthetic turf.” Read Arlington County Public Health Synthetic Turf FAQ. The County will continue to monitor this issue and will take appropriate action based on government recommendations.