Many sports, such as tennis, were traditionally played outdoors. As such, the presence of grass has become part of the tradition for these sports. However, by simulating nature, we now have the option to preserve tradition while still taking advantage of the modern materials at our disposal, allowing us to combine form with function to create beautiful landscapes and high-performance turfs.
Synthetic grass, also called simulated grass, artificial turf, astro turf, or fake grass, is composed of two to three components. At the bottom is a latex rubber base material that secures the grass in place. Attached to this layer are the actual fibres of synthetic grass.
Two blade shapes are usually used, with one type being long and narrow and the other form being short. The shapes of the blades make the entire grass look opaque and increases its ability to handle loads.
In synthetic grass, an infill, more commonly, sand or sometimes recycled rubber is placed among the grass fibres to simulate the appearance of soil. While artificial grass is cheaper to install without an infill, it is necessary to have an infill to support the fibres from wear and tear, to enhance its durability and the lifetime of the grass.
It may seem unnecessary to use synthetic grass when real grass grows abundantly in most places. However, unlike real grass, artificial turf is much more durable as it is very resistant to decomposing and has high mechanical strength. This property is essential as the turf used for sports will be subjected to heavy wear and tear.
Real grass requires constant irrigation as well as a good supply of nutrients. In contrast, artificial grass only needs occasional cleaning and maintenance.
The main variation of the different types of artificial turf is the material of construction used to create the grass. The hardest variety is made out of nylon, although the resulting turf is rougher and less realistic than the other types.
Grass manufactured from polyethylene or polypropelene is used extensively in sports as well as in landscaping, is the cheapest and most durable type of artificial grass.
The type of infill can also be used to distinguish the types of synthetic grass. For grass that uses infill, the most common are either sand or rubber. The former, usually sourced from recycled tires, imparts a darker shade to the turf and provides a relatively softer surface. The latter, which is used to produce Sand Filled Artificial Grass or SFAG, can penetrate deeper into the turf and provides firmer support. The choice between the two will depend on where you will use the turf, although most prefer sand infill for sports fields such as tennis courts.
While easier to maintain than real grass, artificial turf still requires some maintenance to prolong its life. This involves removing the compaction, debris and algae from within the mat using specialised techniques and purpose-built machinery, whilst rebalancing the sand with removing the valuable sand.
However, for tennis courts and other high-traffic areas, professional cleaning and maintenance services may be required. Despite this, synthetic grass is still easier and cheaper to maintain, and given its ability to withstand heavy use, it is still the material of choice.