Artificial lawns have evolved significantly throughout the over 70-year history of the technology.
This not only made them look more luscious and lifelike but also feeling increasingly more like a grass surface as different pile technologies and infill materials were found.
The need for a grass surface that not only looks great but is also easily maintained with a brush and a bottle of artificial grass cleaner has existed for decades, but it took until the 1960s for any developments of synthetic grass to be seen.
The first-ever artificial turf was created by a team at North Carolina State University. it was headed by then-dean David Chaney and was initially called ChemGrass.
Artificial grass is sometimes known as AstroTurf, and the reason for this is that the very first professional sports installation of any synthetic grass was at the Astrodome in Houston Texas.
The Astrodome was revolutionary in a lot of ways, being the first multi-purpose domed stadium in the world, but its dome caused some major issues found during its first season in 1965.
Texas is typically very warm from April to October when Major League Baseball would play matches, and a flaw found in the dome would cause huge problems for the field.
Early on, it was quickly found that the dome’s windows would cause a huge amount of glare, leading to complaints from baseball players and eventually the dome was painted over.
This turned out to be a disaster for the grass; whilst it was fairly hardy to survive the Texas summer, the reduced light caused by the paint meant that it simply went brown and died, which was highly embarrassing for a new stadium, who literally had to paint the dirt green for the rest of 1965.
Not long after, artificial turf came to the rescue, and the newly christened AstroTurf swept the sporting world.
However, the initial, short-pile AstroTurf did have its critics. It was a much thinner surface, with a short pile and no infill whatsoever. This meant that whilst it looked like grass, it could sometimes act very differently.
Balls bounced higher and much faster, which in sports such as tennis led to extremely fast, aggressive play. This was popular in some sports but would be criticised in others.
Football clubs in particular would have issues in adapting to artificial grass, with the early carpet-like turfs leading to bouncier balls, players falling more and risking more serious injuries when they did, as well as the hot surface causing discomfort when they land on it.
These earlier artificial turfs would be superseded by longer-pile second generation artificial grass with sand infills, and later by the third generation rubber-crumb era, as well as hybrid grass which is more resistant to damage than normal.
Now in its third generation, sometimes known as FieldTurf, artificial grass surfaces have continued to innovate to ensure they remain robust, long-lasting, comfortable to walk on and look as lifelike as possible, whilst also using less water.