For most synthetic turf field owners and their communities, one of the most exciting parts of their project is finally seeing the green being rolled out on their field. But a lot of people probably don’t really know what happens on a synthetic turf field construction project up until the green rolls out. Based on the turf provider and owner preference, the process around how your field is constructed can look a little different – but a basic knowledge of what each layer looks like can assist you in planning and understanding what is happening on your field every step of the way.
If your field is made of natural grass and you are converting it to synthetic turf, your grass field will need to be excavated (or dug up) to make room for your base (we’ll get to that a little later). The existing grass field and a layer of soil are removed, and then the soil is compacted. You might hear this referred to as the subgrade of your field. This stage requires a lot of oversight as it sets the stage for a successful system from day one throughout one, two or even three synthetic turf cycles (or some variety of this statement maybe). It is also recommended that an additional layer of protection is included, which can be a geotextile fabric or another type of liner to protect the subgrade from the clean stone base above it.
Stone + Drainage Pipes
The next layer involves a few key pieces. The first is a layer of base stone and a layer of finish stone. This piece is integral to your field draining properly. The stone will allow for water to flow freely, while providing stability so the surface will not settle over time. This will also be the time to install drainage pipe throughout the field. Different sizes, shapes, and materials of pipe are needed for different projects, but choosing the proper system for your facility will help avoid standing water on your field in the middle of a big game! Your selected synthetic turf specialist will help identify the best drainage solution for your site’s requirements. Keep in mind, your field is a construction project and may require certain permits and governmental approvals, always check with your local agencies to ensure the project is not delayed unexpectedly.
Shock Attenuation Pad (optional)
Many owners have found a benefit in the inclusion of a shock absorption pad within their field system. If a pad is selected, it will live between the gravel base and the turf layer. There are varying options of pad with regard to price, warranty, installation process, and playability. Many shock pads can be used beyond one lifecycle, and depending on the infill selected, can sometimes be required for your system.
Bonus Step: Removal
If you have an existing synthetic turf field, the first three steps will not be applicable to your process. Your turf provider will do tests and evaluations to ensure that your base, drainage, pad (if selected), etc. are still in top shape and ready for another lifecycle of synthetic turf. The existing synthetic turf is removed, and then the steps that follow this will be relevant to your project.
Now it’s time for turf! Dependent upon your turf provider and the system, the turf installation process itself can look a little different from job to job. The following process is based on what our team, in particular, does. Turf is delivered to the site typically in 15 feet wide rolls. The first roll is laid out facing up. The next piece will be rolled out facing down on top of the first piece of turf. The two will then be attached together. Once the pieces of turf are secured, the second piece is then pulled facing up by the installation team, and laid flat on top of the stone base or the shock pad system. After the field is secure from goal line to goal line, the sideline and endzone panels are then installed.
At this point, you have a full field! Next up is to install the selected items to personalize your new field to capture your team’s spirit. Those pieces, referred to as ‘inlays’ can include numbers, hashmarks, school or organization logos, endzone letters, or sideline logos.
Once the turf is laid out and secured, it’s time for infill. There are a lot of great options for infill on the market, the most popular today being crumb rubber and sand. Using a tractor, with the recommended tires for synthetic turf, the infill is dispersed throughout the field and then manually brushed into the turf fibers.
Your Field is Ready!
After a walk through and maintenance training with your turf provider, it’s time to play! Remember that to keep your field looking as good as it does on Day 1, it will need regular grooming – especially during peak activity time – and looking into an annual maintenance program is always a good idea. You can see some examples of finished fields in the Showcase section of our website.
For more information on the construction and installation process for a synthetic turf field, or how to bring it to your facility, contact a reputable turf provider or give us a call at 513-533-6452.