This summer, our CWH intern, Jackson Caudle of Occidental College, researched the costs and benefits of living and artificial turf on athletic fields. Having played football throughout his life, this subject hit close to home. It’s also a timely topic for CWH as we work with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) to connect schools and school districts with water-saving incentives, which includes a turf replacement rebate. In this week’s #SummerScienceFriday, we compare the benefits of natural turf over synthetic turf.
Construction of Athletic Fields
For those not too familiar, synthetic turf is a plastic replacement for grass, created using three layers of material. A top and bottom layer made of plastic mimic the feel of grass and hold in the middle layer, which is typically filled with recycled pieces of tires, other plastics, or sand. In order for the synthetic turf to be laid down, construction takes place over a period of several days, where workers build a concrete border around the area where the turf will be laid and drainage areas are installed underneath. This extra construction can be expensive, but because turf fields do not drain water like natural turf, it is necessary (1).
In comparison, natural turf is easier and cheaper to install. The process starts by rototilling the ground wh