This statement is true because, over the past 25 years, we have seen mixed systems that have helped reinforce the stability of natural grass and increase the weekly hours of use of the pitch. In fact, the most appreciated aspect of hybrid turf systems is the feeling and comfort of playing almost equivalent to natural grass.
Currently we can identify 2-3 hybrid systems from the past that are more or less functional, but essentially none can offer such a high number of hours to meet the needs of about 1000-1200 hours of a sports club without ruining the natural grass or the system itself, let alone where the natural grass deteriorates (for whatever reason) offer a playable surface.
These are the main objectives of POWERgrass hybrid grass, which have been achieved thanks to the unique combination of 4 features, protected in 4 invention patents, that offer a perfect symbiosis of natural and synthetic grass with mutual advantages.
Installation in Riyadh, prior to seeding
Fibre support and binding
The backing is non-biodegradable to maintain its structure over the years and is made from a special mesh that will not break down when punctured to withstand a variety of maintenance operations such as: deep aeration, stripping, removal of felt, reseeding, renewal of natural turf etc.
By combining these features, POWERgrass hybrid turf has achieved its goal of offering the best of both worlds (artificial turf and natural grass) because it combines the comfort and safety of natural grass with the durability and reduced maintenance of artificial turf. This innovative symbiotic combination also offers a lifespan of more than 20 years because the synthetic grass reinforces the natural grass but at the same time is protected from premature ageing by the sun's UV rays, which translates into further savings for investors, the environment and the community.
We can therefore say that POWERgrass is not the usual "middle ground" between artificial turf and natural grass, let alone a compromise, but a better alternative to everything else available on the market today.
POWERgrass is a hybrid grass system, or rather mixed synthetic and natural grass, that offers a reinforced playing surface that is always playable, even without natural grass. POWERgrass is the first system that combines the advantages of an artificial turf pitch with a high number of playing hours with the advantages of a natural grass pitch with more comfort and safety for the players.
The strengths of POWERgrass can be summarised schematically as higher quality, safety and savings from construction to maintenance to the environment over an estimated payback period of 20 years. POWERgrass has no expiry date if it is cultivated regularly and is easy to recover even if it is abandoned. In case of replacement, even after 20 years, the old sod can be reused for training grounds, public green areas, parks and private gardens.
POWERgrass is designed to offer a better alternative to natural grass and fully synthetic grass for the construction of all types of grass sports such as football, rugby and American football pitches.
On natural grass pitches the winter climate or the microclimate inside a stadium is very often unfavourable for the development of deep roots, which results in poor resistance to tearing during the players' slides, thus facilitating the formation of potholes. In POWERgrass, the natural grass grows inside the artificial turf and the roots find an anchorage network to the artificial substrate, thus making the playing surface much more resistant and stable without the formation of holes.
In addition to the improved quality and stability of the playing surface, the increased strength, etc., there are situations where POWERgrass solves problems where other types of flooring are not suitable because the roots of the natural grass together with the synthetic grass mesh combine all the materials into a single body, obviating the hydrogeological risk caused by flooding. This is particularly important for fields built near watercourses and in areas at risk of flooding.
Changing direction is the most frequent action
Another extremely important application is within athletics tracks because it allows the formation of a high quality field and intensive play without having to give up javelin, hammer and discus throws compared to the creation of an entirely synthetic field because any damage is easily repaired and invisible by the restoration of natural grass.
Other applications are possible wherever natural grass needs to be reinforced. Tennis, volleyball and hockey, golf tees, polo and galloping grounds as well as green runways for aircraft are other fields of application if the budget permits.
In public parks, it is possible to create a free play area without barriers because POWERgrass reinforces the grass, without being removable because the roots anchor themselves in the ground. In gardens, the reinforcement of play areas around swimming pools is another possible application.
Natural grass pitches built on an earth surface require less maintenance than sand pitches, but the risk of postponed matches is very high because no drainage system in the earth surface can quickly remove excess water. Playing in moderate rain produces mud on the surface between the drains and the natural grass is gradually smothered. During a rainy winter it is easy to damage the natural grass due to excess mud and playing in wet ground starts the formation of numerous depressions.
On natural grass pitches built on a sand base to USGA or DIN standards, as is the case in today's stadiums, it is possible to play in the rain without the formation of mud, but the cost of maintenance increases particularly because the cohesion of the sand is poor and the natural turf is less resistant to the players' tears. During the winter, the roots are superficial and it is easy to lift the natural turf clods forming dangerous holes; repairing the holes increases the cost of maintenance considerably.
On synthetic turf pitches with a sand + rubber infill it is theoretically possible to play "all the time". The cost of maintenance is low compared to natural grass pitches because it is sufficient to brush the infill twice a week on average, to loosen and clean the infill once a year and to add a small amount of removed rubber, but the amortisation of the investment and the provision for replacement of the synthetic turf system at the end of its life cycle is more expensive in the annual budget of the pitch.
Organic plant infill moves when it rains heavily
Synthetic turf fields with sand infill + rubber infill + organic plant infill allow for more stable play on the ground that tends to simulate natural grass. The cost of routine maintenance is further reduced because the infill is more "stable" and is therefore brushed once a week, but the extraordinary operations to unblock the infill are necessary at least 3 times a year, the cleaning of the infill remains unchanged but the reintegration of the organic plant part is the most important expense and the total cost of maintenance is equivalent to a natural grass field while the cost of depreciation of the field and the provision for the replacement of the synthetic turf system at the end of its life cycle remains high.
Artificial turf fields made with the infill entirely of organic plant material (coconut, cork, rice husk, corn cob, or pine bark) are currently the most expensive system on the market and the replenishment of the organic plant infill makes this solution less suitable if medium to long term savings are a goal.
The cost of the POWERgrass hybrid pitch, including the amortisation of the initial investment, the provision for replacing the system, conservatively calculated over twenty years, maintenance and water consumption, is equivalent to the cost of a synthetic pitch for the same number of hours of play. With an investment in professional machinery for routine maintenance and the purchase of fertilisers, seeds and paint for the white lines each year, the consumption of water for irrigation is considerably reduced, the costs of extraordinary maintenance are almost eliminated and the risk of damage from bad weather causing flooding is prevented.
In the case of hybrid or mixed synthetic and natural grass fields, the comparison with POWERgrass is clearly far removed from the high maintenance costs of the hybrid systems of the past. Looking at them one by one, we can say with certainty that no one has the unique combination of the 4 essential characteristics of POWERgrass to guarantee a perfect symbiosis of natural and synthetic grass that enables POWERgrass to offer a high number of playing hours, a long lifespan and reduced maintenance costs.
Some use closed or partially biodegradable media and the roots do not breathe sufficiently because gas exchange is limited, especially during the initial growth phase. Others fail to fix the fibres to the substrate so it is not possible to clog the growth medium well by lifting the synthetic fibres to the surface. Others have rigid substrates that cause the surface to harden. In some it is not advisable to use the drill hole frequently so as not to unravel the system. Most offer a playable surface as long as the natural grass is in good health, but they collapse as the natural grass deteriorates.
POWERgrass has overcome the problems of the past. The comparison with existing hybrid systems is obvious even to the uninitiated. POWERgrass is the only hybrid turf system that offers a better alternative to fully synthetic turf in terms of durability and maintenance savings.
A natural grass pitch, if maintained regularly, can last "forever" as long as you play for a limited number of hours (up to 3 hours per day), respecting the natural grass during the winter period when it grows less.
The synthetic turf pitch offers an "unlimited" number of hours of play during the competitive season, with the pitch being almost always playable, but has a maturity of no more than 10 years for northern Italy and 8 years for central and southern Italy with acceptable quality standards.
The POWERgrass hybrid pitch offers the real playing needs of sports clubs, up to 6 hours per day with good quality standards and a pitch that is always playable even in the absence of natural grass. At the same time with low but regular maintenance it is possible to achieve an "unlimited" lifespan, but of course we are satisfied to reach 20 years.
Once you have installed the synthetic grass specifically for the POWERgrass hybrid grass system and the infill that is suitable for growing natural grass, the maintenance of the POWERgrass hybrid pitch is focused on the maintenance of the natural grass, which regenerates itself if grown regularly.
Many people worry about cutting the natural grass weekly (about 30 times during the racing season in northern Italy) but this is equivalent to brushing the infill of the fully synthetic grass. However, today it is possible to automate the cutting process with a robot gardener that works silently through the night without consuming fuel and only needs programming, cleaning of the mowing part and very little maintenance.
The most important tasks are fertilisation and proper water management. We recommend around 8 fertilisations as needed to allow the natural grass to grow regularly. The cost of fertilisers is limited and application is simple; a small rotary trolley can be used to distribute the fertiliser precisely, saving on travel by contractors. Lawn care suppliers almost always offer free advice to promote their products.
A couple of surface aerations and a few deep holes keep the gas exchange in the growing medium in balance for healthy and vigorous root growth at depth.
Re-seeding at the end of the season increases the density of the lawn and reinstalls damaged natural grass plants in 6-8 weeks to face the next racing season.
The possible cost of fungicide treatments used for natural grass is equivalent to the disinfectant treatments for fully synthetic grass against algae, bacteria, fungi and viruses.
The lines of play on the hybrid lawn are not fixed, as they are on an all artificial turf pitch, so they have to be marked every week that the natural grass grows (approx. 30-34 times a year). This may seem like a hassle to some, but it can be made easy by installing white tufts in the corner points of the field lines and using a spray tracer with non-toxic grass paint, so you can go over the original tracing and trace the field again in less than an hour. The cost of the material is ridiculously low and on the other hand there is an interesting advantage: the possibility of marking out the pitch sideways for 7-a-side football or other sports such as American football and rugby, making the facility multi-purpose, provided of course that the minimum dimensions allowed for each category and sport are respected.
Synthetic coating worn out by UV rays from the sun
All synthetic grass must be irrigated as soon as the thermometer reads 22 °C, because the surface accumulates excess heat that causes premature fatigue of the player. At the same time, moist synthetic grass reduces dust, is more pleasant to play on, emits less of the unpleasant odour of rubber and is less abrasive to the player's skin in the event of a slip.
In the case of excessive heat, use the pitch after 6 p.m. because the watering of artificial turf is known to lower the temperature for only 20 minutes and at the same time provide a 'sauna effect' during the evaporation phase of the water.
Natural grass, on the other hand, keeps the surface cool and provides a better habitat for athletes and spectators without the need for daily watering. However, during the period of excessive heat (32°C), you have to water every day, but paradoxically, instead of watering more, you have to provide just enough to keep the natural grass alive, i.e. keep no more than 16% moisture in the plant substrate. In this way the lawn is better able to defend itself against the summer heat and regain its vegetation when the heat passes. In warmer climates, the selection of heat-resistant grasses such as certain varieties of Poa pratensis or Cynodon dactylon and Paspalum vaginatum offer greater resistance to summer heat.
Using an automatic irrigation system with 24 sprinklers, the consumption of a natural grass irrigation cycle for 7000 m² is about 24 m3, but the evaporation in the natural grass field is much lower than in a bare ground or artificial turf field.
On the other hand, synthetic grass also needs irrigation to lower the temperature and make the surface ideal for playing. In fact, it should be pointed out that the water saving of fully synthetic grass is rather insignificant, if not greater, because if we were to meet the demands of the players, we would have to irrigate even more than with natural grass.
In POWERgrass the presence of a non-woven geotextile in the artificial turf offers the possibility to retain more water in the underlying substrate so it is possible to irrigate less frequently which facilitates even more the development of the root system in depth with consequent water savings compared to a natural grass field.
For example, fields with organic plant infill are even more susceptible to frost than natural grass fields because they retain too much water in the infill material, while rubber fields overheat in the summer, which is a major limitation for daytime use.
Roots grow dense under the backing
POWERgrass withstands frost better than natural grass pitches because the natural grass cover and the presence of the non-woven geotextile in the artificial turf are "a double blanket" that retains heat in the plant substrate.
When the frost persists, there may be a loss of colour and a reduction in the density of the turf but, in spring, the recovery of the natural grass is quite rapid while the synthetic grass in POWERgrass keeps the turf stable without interrupting play. However, to reduce the effect of frost, it is advisable to reduce the moisture in the growing medium and the hours of play when the ground is frozen.
Remember that pre-winter fertilisation and summer fertilisation with potassium is of paramount importance to achieve a green appearance and turf that is resistant to trampling and environmental stress.
If a heating system is used, significant savings can be made on the calories needed to remedy frost because the insulating effect of the non-woven geotextile helps to retain heat. What's more, the electric heating system allows use to be reduced to actual needs according to geographical area with minimal system maintenance and easy on/off management.
Many people think that the integration of artificial turf into natural grass results in an increase in temperature. This is because some hybrid systems tend to collapse as soon as the thermometer exceeds certain limits, but this happens if the artificial fibres are lying on the surface or worse buried in the substrate in large quantities causing a hardening of the surface and a reduction in air circulation. In POWERgrass, the fibres are upright and represent 1.65% of the surface. In addition, we use a very open backing, which, together with the gentle cork that increases the porosity of the sandy substrate, provides greater air circulation in the growing medium, greater water retention and an insulating effect that mitigates temperature changes during the day. Water management by means of an automatic irrigation system and, if necessary, air management by means of a sub-air system allow air/water/temperature balance in the growing medium.
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POWERgrass hybrid turf field
Synthetic turf field