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Not quite ALL-Weather pitches! Not quite ALL-Weather pitches!

Not quite ALL-Weather pitches!

It's a common misconception that synthetic turf pitches can be played upon in absolutely any weather condition. Snow and icecan result in a pitch being unsuitable for use due to the risk of damaging the surface and the health and safety implications. However thankfully there are steps that can be taken to prevent this from happening.

Snow or ice itself is not actually harmful to the synthetic turf, and can be allowed to melt naturally. Typically, however, the surface will be required for use before the surface has had chance to melt. If a good foothold can be achieved in the infill (by using studded shoes) and it is safe to do so, then the pitch may be used. However heavy use of a frozen pitch should be discouraged as the fibres become brittle at low temperatures and hence may be damaged. Furthermore, the shock absorption of the fibres is reduced, increasing the possibility of injury being caused to the players.

Rock salt and chemical de-icers should NOT be used as they can damage the UV stability of the surface. If necessary vacuum-dried salt can be used, as this will dissolve quickly and melt the ice without harming the fibre. If possible, this is best used as a preventative measure and applied in advance of cold weather conditions. Another alternative is for a heating system to be installed within the shock-pad layer of a pitch, however in most cases this is not a cost-effective solution.

In terms of snow fall, we recommend that if there’s just a relatively light dusting, the best way to try to clear the surface is actually to play upon it. However if, as we’ve experienced over recent months, the pitch experiences a heavier snowfall, this is unlikely to be possible. A pitch can be cleared with a snow plough that has been fitted with a rubber edged snow guard. Note however that it is important to clear the snow to a height of approximately 5cm only, as the frozen turf could be easily damaged if the snow is ploughed too deeply. Brushes can be used to clear the remaining 5cm of snow from the surface, however be aware that the infill may still be frozen.

In cases where heavy rain falls on a frozen pitch, or snow and ice thaw quickly, the field may become flooded, as the frozen sand infill prevents the water draining. A pitch that we installed at University Academy in Keighley recently experienced this problem, see lower photograph above. A pitch flooded in this way should not raise concern as the pitch will drain when the infill has thawed.

Overall, the best course of action if a pitch is covered in snow or ice, is simply to allow the surface the thaw. However if user demands deem this not possible, be careful to follow these guidelines to protect your pitch and the players upon it.

For further information about snow ploughs fitted with rubber edged snow guards please contact our synthetic surface maintenance specialists, Protech AllWeather, on 0116 288 6782 or email info@thorntonsports.co.uk.

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