Message from the Minister for Sport and Recreation

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Microsoft Word version

Artificial Grass for Sport


Rugby player throwing ball from scrum; young girl hitting tennis ball; Melbourne Victory and Newcastle Jets female football players are jostling for a soccer ball; and Australian hockey representative hitting the ball with her stick. All photos take place on artificial grass pitch surfaces.

Front cover photographs courtesy of Australian Hockey Association (hockey player), Sydney Low Photography on behalf of Football Federation Victoria (soccer players), and Tiger Turf (rugby players).

State Government of Victoria

Department of Planning and Community Development


Word Version

This document is a Microsoft Word Version of the Department of Planning and Community Development’s ’Artificial Grass for Sport’ guide.

It has been produced to facilitate access to the document by people who use screen-reader software or who wish to enlarge the text on this computer screen.

The printed publication contains various photographs, captions and design features that have been necessarily omitted from this version.

In other respects the document contains identical text to that in the printed document.

Published by the Department of Planning and Community Development

February 2011

© State Government of Victoria,
Department of Planning and Community Development, 2011

Minister’s Foreword

Message from the Minister for Sport and Recreation

It gives me great pleasure to present the Artificial Grass for Sport guide.

Victorian communities are increasingly looking to more sustainable solutions to help keep their sports thriving in the face of weather extremes and increasing participation rates. Artificial grass surfaces are proving to be a viable alternative.

They don’t require watering, are easy to maintain, durable and most importantly allow up to three to four times as many hours of use than natural turf surfaces.

That’s great news for Victorian clubs, schools and communities looking to accommodate greater numbers in their sports.

Recent experience, however, has shown us that there’s been inadequate information and support for local councils and their communities to plan for, select, and install new artificial grass surfaces.

As a result we’ve consulted with the sports industry to develop what will undoubtedly become an indispensible tool for future artificial grass projects.

This guide will assist you in all aspects of artificial grass installation from selecting the most appropriate site and surface, to preparing the site, choosing the right professionals, planning, and the best way to lay and maintain your surface for years to come.

It brings together current best practice, industry standards, and professional tips gathered and drawn from a range of sporting associations and leading Australian and international artificial turf experts.

By sharing our artificial grass experience with all Victorians we hope to further enhance the work of local councils, sporting clubs, schools, and communities in their development of quality, durable and accessible artificial grass venues.

To get the most out of your current or future artificial grass project I strongly encourage you to utilise this fantastic resource - Artificial Grass for Sport.


Minister for Sport and Recreation

Purpose of the Guide

Sport and Recreation Victoria (SRV) has been supporting local government authorities for decades in the funding and development of infrastructure for sport and recreation. Artificial grass surfaces for sport and recreation have been popular during this period given their resilience to weather, their availability for intensive use, and the consistency of their playing characteristics.

The popularity of the artificial grass sub-category of synthetic sports surfaces took off in Australia in the 1980s, principally used for hockey, tennis and lawn bowls. This sporting use continues strongly today, and has expanded in more recent years into provision for sports such as football (soccer) and rugby, and now the expansion into Australian rules football and cricket ovals.

The interest in artificial grass has been further heightened due to the prolonged drought conditions and associated water restrictions, which have made it challenging to maintain good quality, safe playing areas. With climate change making these conditions more prevalent, artificial grass will play an important role in ensuring the sustainability of sport into the future.

It is evident that some local councils, sporting organisations, and schools may not have sufficient information to plan for, select, and install artificial grass surfaces. Further, due to the continual technological development of artificial grass it can be difficult for organisations contemplating artificial grass for the first time to comprehend and deal with the broad range of issues confronting them.

The overall intention of this publication is to provide a sound base of information so that informed decisions can be made at all stages of artificial grass project development.

Structure of the Guide

This publication provides guidance, as well as highlighting ‘best practice’ for the planning, design, selection, installation, management, maintenance and replacement of artificial grass surfaces for sport. The document is structured accordingly so readers can quickly find the information that is relevant to their enquiry.

Whilst Sections 2 – 7 follow in a logical sequence, Section 1 is both a traditional introductory collection of subjects (glossary, history, product types, etc) but is also inclusive of several key subject matters brought to the front of the guide for greater emphasis (quality assurance, funding strategies, professional support, research and development, etc).

Overall, whilst the presentation of issues flows in a logical, almost chronological process, it has been kept in mind that many users will want to ‘dip in’ to the guide for selective reading, and so to support that need some small areas of information and advice have been repeated as deemed appropriate.


1. Introduction

1.1 Construction Profiles 7

1.2 Glossary of Terms 9

1.3 History of Artificial Grass 19

1.4 Benefits and Disbenefits 21

1.4.1 Benefits 21

1.4.2 Disbenefits 22

1.5 Types of Artificial Grass and Infill 22

1.5.1 Fibre Base Materials 22

1.5.2 Production Methods 22

1.5.3 Types of Artificial Grass 22

1.5.4 Carpet Infills 25

1.6 Playing Characteristics and Sporting Standards 26

1.6.1 General 26

1.6.2 Soccer 27

1.6.3 Rugby 28

1.6.4 Australian Rules Football 29

1.6.5 Cricket 30

1.6.6 Hockey 31

1.6.7 Tennis 32

1.6.8 Lawn Bowls 33

1.6.9 Baseball 34

1.6.10 Golf 34

1.6.11 Lacrosse 34

1.6.12 School Sports 35

1.7 Multi-Use and Multi-Sport Areas 36

1.8 Injuries and Artificial Grass 39

1.8.1 Introduction 39

1.8.2 Injury Prevention 39

1.8.3 Research 39

1.9 Lifespan and Lifecycles 41

1.9.1 Lifespan 41

1.9.2 Lifecycle 41

1.10 Lifecycle Cost Comparisons: Natural Turf versus Artificial Turf 42

1.10.1 Inflation, Interest and Amortisation 43

1.11 Local Government Policy Considerations 44

1.11.1 Open Space and Fencing 44

1.11.2 Facility Management and Control 44

1.11.3 User-Pays and Artificial Grass 45

1.12 Licensing, Certification and Accreditation 45

1.12.1 Licensing 45

1.12.2 Certification 45

1.12.3 Accreditation 46

1.13 Quality Assurance, Control and Warranties 46

1.13.1 Quality Assurance and Control 46

1.13.2 Warranties 48

1.14 Funding Strategies 49

1.15 Professional Support 51

1.16 Environmental and Health Issues 52

1.17 Current Product Developments 54

2. Planning

2.1 Introduction 56

2.2 Leisure Facility Planning Process 57

2.3 Explanatory Notes 58

Item 1.1 Establishing the Project Steering Committee 58

Item 2.1 Literature Review 58

Item 2.2 Market Analysis 58

Item 2.3 Draft Management Plan and Schematic Design Development 59

Item 3.0 Refined Management Planning and Detailed Design Development 59

3. Design

3.1 Site and Location Analysis 60

3.1.1 Site Selection 60

3.1.2 Locating the Facility on the Preferred Site 60

3.1.3 Engineering Investigations of the Site and Location 60

3.2 Statutory Planning Issues 61

3.3 Preferred Form of Construction (Sub-Base, Base) 61

3.3.1 Baseworks Criteria 61

3.3.2 Construction Techniques 62

3.4 Artificial Grass Selection 63

3.4.1 Role of a Sport Surface 63

3.4.2 Choosing the Surface 63

3.4.3 Artificial Grass Types 64

3.4.4 Seam Jointing 64

3.5 Shock pads 66

3.5.1 Pre-formed Construction 66

3.5.2 In-Situ Construction 67

3.5.3 Other Shock Pad ‘Issues’ 67

3.6 Drainage and Flooding Issues 69

3.6.1 Vertical Drainage 69

3.6.2 Horizontal Drainage 69

3.6.3 Hybrid System 70

3.7 Concrete Kerbs 70

3.8 Irrigation and Reticulation 70

3.9 Floodlighting 72

3.10 Fencing 73

3.11 Divider Netting and Screening 75

3.12 Shoe Cleaning Areas 76

3.13 Pitch Lay-out and Linemarking 77

3.14 Practice, Warm-up and Multi-Games Areas 77

3.15 Goal and Net Storage 79

3.16 Player and Umpire Shelters 80

3.17 Spectator Areas and Furniture 80

3.18 Access Points (incl. Ambulance Access) 80

3.19 Trees 81

3.20 Relationship to Changerooms and Car Parking 81

3.21 Environmentally Sustainable Design 81

3.22 Safety 81

3.23 Disability Standards for Access to Premises/Universal Design 82

3.24 Designing to Minimise Maintenance 83

4. Project Delivery

4.1 Project Stages 84

4.2 Procurement Routes 84

4.3 Choosing the Most Suitable Project Procurement Method 85

4.4 Design and Documentation versus Design and Construct 85

4.5 Project Cost Estimation 86

4.6 Selecting Your Lead Contractor 86

4.7 Selecting a Tender List and Inviting Tenders 87

4.8 Tender Documentation 87

4.9 Evaluation of Tenders 88

4.10 Agree to Final Details With Preferred Contractor 89

4.11 Awarding the Job 89

4.12 Establishing a Contract 89

4.13 Timing and Period of the Contract/Project 90

4.14 Terms and Warranties Offered 90

4.15 Manufacturer/Supplier Licensing 90

4.16 Product Compliance 90

4.17 Monitor and Supervise Construction and Contract 91

4.17.1 Workmanship 91

4.17.2 Materials 91

4.18 Quality Control 91

4.19 Check Final Completion with Consultants and the Contractor 91

4.20 Remedial Works and Re-Inspection 92

4.21 Field Testing 92

4.22 Handover and Defects Liability Period 93

4.23 The Warranty and Guarantee Period 93

5. Management/Operation

5.1 Facility Objectives 94

5.2 Specific Policies 94

5.3 Management Options 94

5.3.1 Direct Management by the Facility Owner 94

5.3.2 Resident Club Control 95

5.3.3 Representative Advisory Board Under Council Management 95

5.3.4 Committees of Management 95

5.3.5 Third Party (Commercial) 95

5.4 Programming and Pricing Structures 96

5.4.1 Programming 96

5.5 Staff and Supervision 97

5.6 Marketing 98

5.7 Accounting and Financial Procedures 98

5.8 Operating Procedures 98

6 Maintenance

6.1 Maintenance Overview 100

6.2 Maintenance of Artificial Grass Pitches 100

6.2.1 Introduction 100

6.2.2 What Maintenance and Why? 100

6.2.3 Maintenance Issues 101

6.2.4 Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Annually 105

6.3 Maintenance of Artificial Grass Tennis Courts 106

6.3.1 Introduction 106

6.3.2 What Maintenance and Why? 106

6.3.3 Maintenance Issues 106

6.3.4 Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Annually 108

6.4 Maintenance of Artificial Grass Cricket Pitches 109

6.4.1 Introduction 109

6.4.2 What Maintenance and Why? 109

6.4.3 Maintenance Issues 109

6.4.4 Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Annually 110

6.5 Maintenance of Artificial Grass Lawn Bowling Greens 111

6.5.1 Introduction 111

6.5.2 What Maintenance and Why? 111

6.5.3 Maintenance Issues 111

6.5.4 Weekly, Quarterly, Annually 115

6.6 Chemicals on Artificial Grass 117

7. Re-Surfacing/Replacement

7.1 General Considerations 118

7.2 Design Considerations 118


Appendix 1: Bibliography 122

Appendix 2: Case Studies 125

Appendix 3: Sample Specification (Primary School Installation) 131

Appendix 4: Sample Questionnaire for Use When Interviewing Proposed Contractor 144

Appendix 5: Construction Costs and Whole-of-Life Costings 147

Appendix 6: Accredited Testing Laboratories 152

Appendix 7: Surface Evaluation Model (Introduction) 153

Appendix 8: Surface Evaluation Model 154

Appendix 9: Categories of Artificial Grass Pitches 155

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