A lot of studies have been done on how hot temperatures affect synthetic turf, a particular concern for those who feel the temperatures rise way beyond reasonable levels. But there is another end of the spectrum and it is important to ensure that a synthetic turf surface is capable of withstanding freezing temperatures too.
Performance of Sporting Synthetic Turf
Modern synthetic turf materials have been designed to withstand freezing temperatures with the 3rd generation polyethylene fibers proving to remain as soft and flexible when subjected to snow as they are in the warmer climates. The infill that is used today are also suited to the cold weather slowing down the freezing process and compacting down to provide a stable surface regardless of how adverse the conditions get.
As opposed to regular grass, which suffers in winter with dead grass and brown spots a common occurrence, synthetic grass continues to look good through the winter months and actually requires less maintenance. The care that might be required to maintain regular grass through these colder conditions is less because the freezing temperature of synthetic grass is lower than normal grass.
In fact, when synthetic grass is still as soft and cushioned as it always is, regular grass can have frozen and become rock hard making play dangerous.
Residential Synthetic Grass
It’s the same with residential synthetic grass. Even though there are concerns that artificial grass may not look lifelike, particularly when it is partially covered with snow, the appearance of 3rd generation synthetic grasses are still very difficult to distinguish from real grass.
Where there is going to be an obvious difference between synthetic grass and natural grass through the colder months is that the synthetic grass is going to continue to look lush and green while the natural grass lawn is going to go brown as it dies off. This green appearance is surely something to embrace rather than deride.
Drainage Remains Good
When the ice and snow begins to melt away from the synthetic grass surface it must have somewhere to go. This is not a problem for the perforated backing of synthetic grass which allows the melting liquids to drain quickly away without creating any pooling or leaving any marks on the surface. In fact one of its strengths is the superior drainage of synthetic grass.
Just as synthetic turf and synthetic grass performs well in warmer climates it can be relied upon to perform strongly when it’s cold. In some cases it might even be a preferable option and will allow activities to take place where they might otherwise have had to be abandoned.
But It’s Not Completely All-Weather
Although a synthetic turf pitch can withstand the effects of cold temperatures to a greater degree than natural grass it is not necessarily true that the surface is playable no matter what the conditions. A surface that has been completely covered by snow and ice should still be considered unplayable. This is because the fibers can become brittle and be damaged under heavy use when in this condition.
If the ice and snow have begun to melt and the water is draining away, and the infill is thawed enough to get good purchase with cleated boots then it can be used.
Pitches that have only received a light dusting of snow are certainly suitable for play. Rather than go to the expense and trouble of trying to clear the snow from the playing surface the best way to remove it is to play on it.
Clearing a heavy layer of snow from the playing surface may require a snow plow with a rubber edged snow guard fitted to it. When clearing the snow, though, it is highly advisable to clear it down to a depth of 5cm above the surface to ensure the grass fibers are not damaged.
It is possible that a synthetic turf pitch can become flooded if the underlying infill has been frozen. This flooding will not cause any damage to the turf itself and the water will naturally drain away once the infill thaws. But this could be another factor that may prevent play from taking place.