What maintenance operations should be carried out on artificial turf pitches when reopening following the period of lockdown?

After the prolonged halt to sporting activities (such as padel, tennis, soccer, rugby) and the consequent temporary closure of many facilities as a preventive measure to stop the spread of Covid-19, many sports centres are now looking to reopen.

Sports facilities have finally begun to plan for the resumption of activities given that in many European countries these venues will also be hosting summer camps for young people. What maintenance work needs to be carried out on artificial turf pitches ahead of relaunching activities?

OPERATIONS NECESSARY FOR THE REOPENING OF ARTIFICIAL TURF PITCHES

In order to restore artificial turf pitches to optimal conditions after several weeks of closure, it is essential to carry out a number of specific basic maintenance operations.

The first stage is the preliminary inspection, which includes an inspection of the entire pitch in order to assess the amount of maintenance work that is required. At this stage, the inspection not only looks at the condition of the artificial turf, but also at the irrigation system, the condition of the pitch markings and the net anchoring system to ensure the safety of the playing area.

This is followed by the actual maintenance, which consists of a number of specific operations:

  • Cleaning the surface by brushing and vacuuming any dry leaves that may have accumulated on the artificial turf field.
  • Removal of any weeds, first by manual weeding and then through the application of specific products, such as foliar-applied herbicides and anti-sprouting agents. All the operations linked to this treatment (mixing and application of the product and cleaning of the equipment) must be carried out by specialist operators, who must be equipped with all the items of protective equipment specified by current regulations.
  • Brushing the playing surface with a mechanical device equipped with a brush or mat attachment. Checking and maintenance of the drainage system and the grid of ducts and filter baskets, with removal of soil, moss, mud and weeds (where present).
  • Watering of the pitch to prevent dust and dirt from air pollution from gathering on the surface.
  • Re-refilling the performance infill in the areas of the pitch that are used the most, and repair of any minor damage to the surface.

These maintenance operations, which must be performed in accordance with the recommendations provided by the manufacturer and the installer, are accompanied by a series of indications which will help to preserve the properties of the artificial turf surface over time.

The prolonged deposit of heavy materials on the surface should be avoided, as should driving over the artificial turf with heavy vehicles or machinery. Any lines marked on the turf must not be made with products generally used for natural grass (spray paints, lime, aggressive products for polyethylene and/or polypropylene), and it is prohibited to throw flammable products on the artificial turf surface (lit cigarettes, firecrackers, etc.).

The maintenance of the artificial turf pitch also includes the cleaning of any stains on the surface, along with the filaments themselves. Most stains on artificial turf surfaces are classified as water-based stains, which can be easily removed using a diluted solution of a non-abrasive, neutral detergent.

WHO CARRIES OUT THE MAINTENANCE AND CLEANING OF ARTIFICIAL TURF?

The correct maintenance of an artificial turf surface also includes maintenance and cleaning operations that can be carried out by the person or organisation that manages the pitch. These include: brushing the surface with mechanical devices, cleaning the playing surface with a leaf blower and cleaning the turf to remove any organic residues and stains on the filaments.

Meanwhile, other operations, including any sanitation of the playing field, must be performed by qualified technical staff, for example: decompacting the granules, restoring the performance infill, checking the condition of the irrigation system and the sports-related properties of the surface, brushing the fibres and cleaning and sanitising the artificial turf pitch, including vacuuming and cleaning with detergent.

Once the sporting activities have recommenced, the various maintenance operations (which are usually divided into routine and non-routine maintenance) must be carried out at the required intervals: weekly, fortnightly, monthly or yearly.

For more information on the correct maintenance of artificial turf pitches, read this dedicated article.

If you have any queries or specific requests, you can contact MONDO directly.