How Synthetic Lawns Transformed Sports

Struggling to make the decision to move over to artificial grass? This blog has got it covered.

rustic artificial grass garden Newport Pagnell, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire UK

As the nights get colder, it becomes more difficult to maintain a beautiful lawn, and many gardeners instead focus on making the task of regrowing the lawn easier by the time of the first bloom of spring.

Synthetic lawns have become an ideal way to have a beautiful, natural-looking and natural feeling lawn all year round. However, its invention in the early 1960s would come to transform not only our gardens but also how sports were played around the world.

The Birth Of AstroTurf

The initial inventor of artificial grass was David Chaney, who in the early 1960s led a team at the North Carolina State University College of Textiles to create the first artificial grass surface that managed to actually resemble grass.

After an early installation at a high school in Rhode Island, artificial grass became famous after solving a rather infamous sporting dilemma.

In Houston, Texas, the Astros baseball team had just moved into their state of the art home in 1965. A huge, indoor dome stadium, the Astrodome had an exceptionally unique problem when it attempted to use natural grass.

Grass naturally needs light to grow and stay healthy, so the Astrodome had semi-transparent panels on the roof to allow the indoor grass to grow effectively.

The problem with that is that whenever it was sunny in Houston the glare from the roof would get in the players’ eyes, which is a problem when attempting to hit or catch a small white ball travelling over 100 miles per hour.

The dome’s panels were therefore painted white, but that meant that no light broke through into the stadium at all, and the grass died. It was so embarrassing that for most of 1965, the Astros played on dead grass painted green.

The solution was a product known at the time as ChemGrass, which once installed in Houston quickly became known as AstroTurf, a name that is still occasionally used to describe synthetic lawns in general.

Transformation and Advantage

After artificial grass began to be rolled out more widely, both at home and on sports pitches, the advantages of the material became particularly clear.

Many sports teams play in conditions that make maintaining a natural grass pitch expensive and very difficult, if not impossible.

For teams playing in extreme heat (such as the deserts of Arizona and Texas), extreme cold and wet conditions (such as Moscow, Austria and Preston), an artificial grass pitch which feels like a grass pitch is an ideal solution.

If used for a long time, synthetic lawns are more environmentally friendly, with significantly less water being used in gardens with artificial grass than natural grass. This was the reasoning the Mexican team Chivas used to justify its use of artificial surfaces.

 

Along with this, due to the consistency and evenness of an artificial field surface, players can run faster and the behaviour of the surface is more consistent. This is a reason for the popularity of artificial lawns in tennis, as it allows for exceptionally fast play.