Artificial grass vs natural grass – Part 1
Over the last 6 years the association that I have played in has seen the arrival of 7 new artificial grass fields. Currently in my association on Sydney’s Northern beaches the football grounds go through an annual cycle like this. At the turn of the New year the grounds are relatively pristine, there are a few grassless areas but overall the fields are green. This continues until March when football season starts. Over the next three months until July the fields are annihilated by the copious amounts of teams training and playing on them. The grass that was there 3 months earlier is now almost completely stripped, apart from the wide areas and corners. The stripped grass leads to the remaining topsoil being eroded away revealing the much harder and more compacted layer beneath. It is genuinely like playing on concrete and if you are brave enough to slide tackle on it you will pay the price. This continues for the remainder of the season that finishes mid-August. After August fields get a couple weeks break before lower impact sports such as Ultimate frisbee, touch football and cricket take over. The grass then begins its slow recovery helped by two sets of holidays.
The fields throughout the season also morph and change gradient. If the soil composition is not the same throughout the entire field then what ends up happening is that areas of the field with softer soil are washed away further than those with harder soil. This then leaves the ground uneven and can create pot holes, troughs and peaks on the playing surface. Most notably this can be seen at St Matthews Farm in Cromer.
Now, before the football fields were there most of the Northern Beaches fields and reserves were either tips or farming land. This is one of the reasons for the poor soil composition and has only become a problem in more recent years as the popularity of sport in the area has exploded and the grounds are the ones paying the price.