Social impacts

Have you considered the social impacts associated with the playing surface?

As mentioned previously the various sports are at different stages of adopting synthetic turf and consequently the perception in the community of using synthetic surfaces is mixed. For sports such as hockey and tennis where the use of synthetic surfaces has been commonplace for many years there is a general acceptance of the practice. However with other sports such as Australian Rules football, cricket and rugby league there may be some trepidation in the shift to synthetic turf surfaces.

When considering your options consultation with the state and national sports bodies is always recommended as they should be able to provide you with examples of similar projects that have been successfully implemented and suggestions on how to deal with any resistance within a community.

The following points are subjective and are based on discussions with players, officials, researchers, product suppliers and visual inspections of a range of sites by the consulting team, but do offer some insight into the various qualities both surfaces offer.

Natural grass

  • Cooler feel particularly in summer
  • Softer and more forgiving
  • Variable quality depending on the soil type and maintenance regime
  • Traditional and served the various sports well for many years
  • Natural and calming feel
  • Pleasant smells e.g. freshly cut grass
  • Visually appealing if well maintained
  • Provides environmental benefits in terms of carbon absorption and contribution to biodiversity.

Synthetic turf

  • Consistent surface
  • Warmer and subject to glare when sunlight is present
  • Consistent quality and set maintenance regime
  • Modern and innovative product
  • Artificial and unnatural feel
  • Strong odour particularly for synthetic turf with rubber granule infill
  • Visually appealing as it looks ‘green’ all of the time
  • Suitable in many types of weather conditions
  • Durable and low maintenance
  • Provides environmental benefits in terms of water savings and reduced maintenance.

More information

Chapter 8 of the Natural Grass vs. Synthetic Turf Surfaces Study Final Report

Next step

Step 6 - Health impacts

Disclaimer

The information in this guide was published in 2011 and cannot be relied upon as professional advice concerning the decision as to natural grass v synthetic turf. No assurance is given as to the accuracy of any information contained in this guide and readers should seek more up to date information prior to making a decision. Readers should obtain their own independent and professional advice in relation to their project.