Whether you have an all-weather pitch, artificial grass tennis courts or a synthetic turf MUGA, the maintenance of your surface is crucial for the lifespan of the product, to optimise the playing performance and to create a safe environment for all users.
Steve Smith and Louise Ramage from Synthetic Turf Management (STM) share their opinions on why a combination of both in-house and out-sourced maintenance is recommended for all Facilities Managers throughout the UK.
Steve Smith is a specialist who works with maintenance machinery to restore surfaces back to their optimum condition and works predominantly on site. Louise Ramage is STM’s Maintenance Co-ordinator, responsible for booking in and quoting on all maintenance projects and providing advice.
Here they answer the most frequently asked questions.
What are your top three tips for maintaining any synthetic surface?
Steve: Firstly, I would always say that artificial turf surfaces need to be sprayed with moss and weed killers. Larger weeds can be picked out by hand. Secondly, signs should always be in place and litter picked up, especially chewing gum as this can get clogged up in the surface and in the heat will penetrate the grass and cause problems with drainage. Finally, I would say that in between maintenance visits the Facilities Managers should try and complete maintenance themselves, whether that be drag brushing or power sweeping.
What is the most common mistake facilities managers have when it comes to maintaining their surface?
Steve: The most common mistake is when some surfaces aren’t maintained at all. Occasionally some clients will assume that you don’t need to do anything at all in maintaining a pitch and they think it is best to wait for the professionals to come in. But this is far from true as the more in-house maintenance carried out, the better and it is also the most cost-effective way. One of the most crucial parts of this is not to ignore the weeds.
When it comes to infill (sand or rubber crumb) how often is a top up required?
Steve: It entirely depends on the usage of the surface. For example, some schools may only use their pitch during the day, others hire them out to the community in the evening, so it is very difficult to predict this without knowing how often the surface is used.
How long does a maintenance take?
Steve: A full sized pitch would take 3 to 3.5 hours. For smaller surfaces you might only be looking at 1-2 hours which can be very beneficial for schools as it won’t disturb the school day.
When would you not complete maintenance?
Steve: When it is frosty or during snowy weather. This is especially applicable to 3G pitches because the rubber crumb infill compacts and freezes together in clumps meaning the machinery doesn’t work as well.
How far in advance can I book a maintenance in?
Louise: You can book up a year in advance.
What sort of machinery do you use when completing a maintenance and what does each piece do?
Steve: The power brush de-compacts the infill around the perimeter. The Ferrari machine is a ride on de-compactor. The leaf blower is quite self-explanatory and helps to loosen the debris. The knapsack sprayer keeps on top of mould growth and acts as a anti moss and algae treatment.
Name a particular job where you think maintenance has made the most difference?
Steve: All 3G pitches look fantastic once a good maintenance has been completed. Over time the infill is compacted and looks poor. After almost every 3G maintenance our clients comment on how much better the surface looks and feels underfoot.
What is the most common question you are asked from our maintenance clients?
Louise: Clients always ask how the pile is restored. We do this through a process called drag brushing.
Anything else that you think maintenance clients would like to know?
Steve: I always think that clients should take note of repairs and tears in the line. These should be reported immediately. In addition, regular visual checks should take place to look out for weeds, cans, bottles or anything sharp that could cause a severe safety risk. We have come across objects such as prefect badges where the pin is stuck out and as you can imagine this could cause an injury.
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