Artificial turf requires no mowing, watering, fertilizing, poisoning, top dressing, aeration, painting, or re-seeding. Maintenance involves brushing for 1-2 hours 2-4 times a year. The field may be cleaned with a craftsman leaf catcher pulled behind a gat or golf cart. Some schools will chose to have the field professionally cleaned and disinfected 1-2 times a year, at an average cost of $1,000-$1,500 per cleaning. This adds up to less than $3,000 per year in cost. The typical natural turf field can use over 2 million gallons of water per year. Coupled with reduced labor costs related to maintenance, equipment and eliminated costs for supplies such as fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, many schools have seen a reduction in maintenance costs of as much as $35,000- $55,000 per year.
Synthetic turf is available to use 24/7, 365 days per year. Artificial surfaces don’t become muddy in wet weather and are suitable for play even during a rain. Studies of schools that have converted natural fields to synthetic turf suggest that field usage may be increased by a factor of three, with no reduction of field surface quality. In fact, schools are now able to use the fields for PE classes, Band practice, Band competitions, ROTC, Soccer, Lacrosse, Football, Baseball, Softball, Concerts, Graduations, and many other uses.
Aside from the environmental advantages that come from lower water use, the removal of significant amounts of fertilizer and pesticides means less chance of containing groundwater and safer field conditions for children, pets, and wildlife. In addition, synthetic turf is commonly made of recycled materials. The estimated average synthetic turf field uses approximately 45,000 recycled tires that would otherwise take up space in a landfill or tire-waste site.
This situation has changed in recent years with the introduction of newer manufacturing and installation procedures. Some recent independent studies (such as Penn State University) indicate that these new artificial surfaces are showing low injury rates that are a fraction of the injury rates from studies of earlier types of artificial surfaces. These new rates are actually lower than the injury rates experienced on natural grass surfaces. The field is consistent for athletes running (no hard or soft spots), and the Gmax ratings (max deceleration measurement using Clegg impact tester) are better than natural grass, on a consistent basis.