Artificial Turf Maintenance

Artificial Turf tee box area at private course in Mission, B.C. after a few seasons of neglect
After cutting ivy back and leaf blowing
After several minutes of aggressive power brooming
Perfection after a good pressure wash and hand pulling weeds

The most satisfying part of installing artificial turf is admiring how it looks the second you complete the project. Everything is perfect – a fresh new look.  You have transformed a yard into a golfer’s paradise and the ground crew at Augusta National Golf Club couldn’t have made it look any sweeter. 

The problem is that after a few seasons or a few years, depending on the setting, nature starts to take effect.  Weeds can grow in the cracks and crevasses, natural grass can start to encroach around the edges, cups can look worn, flags can look faded and there may even be moss on the surface of the green.  To a homeowner, it may look like your green is in disrepair.  I’m here to tell you it’s not. 

One of my favorite things is making an old project look brand new again and I’m here to tell you just how to make that happen.  Below is a list of tools you can use to make things look magnificent once more, and I will describe the best way to use them.  Also, feel free to check out my Youtube videos on the same topic.

Leaf Blower. This magical wand of whispering air can help you see what’s ahead of you.  Take a pass over the project area to take off any major debris so you know what is going to take a little more elbow grease to remove.  *Be careful around the cups.  If you get air under the edge of the golf cup you can push gravel around and it can be near impossible to fix without a full crew of people, a compactor and a bunch of money.  Step on the cup when you get close or put a brick over it so that the air doesn’t get under there.

Vacuum.  As embarrassing as this is, this is one of the best tools for preventative weekly maintenance.  I took an old vacuum and stored it in my shed beside my lawnmower.  Every few weeks I run around the green with that bad boy and whammo!! Good as new! I’m embarrassed yet proud to say that a dirty golf green bugs me more than a dirty kitchen floor. Apologies to my beautiful wife for that one.

Pressure Washer.  Here is the tool of all tools for a proper maintenance but Be Careful!  You want to exhibit some touch and feel with this tool.  If you get too aggressive on a short pile putting surface, you can negatively manipulate the fibers and their natural direction which can be hard to fix.  So, keep the wand at a safe distance (8”+/-).  Enough to blow out any moss and clean the green of natural dirt build up but not enough to disturb the fibers.

Long pile putting surfaces that are meant for holding shots are where this tool comes in most handy.  Basically, you can get aggressive on this product to make sure you get out all the organic debris but, you will have to go back when it dries out and top dress the project with more infill sand.  It is quite a big job but for older infill greens it may be the way to go.

The pressure washer is also great for normal artificial turf grass installations (i.e. lawns).  The turf can be matted and worn, have debris and weeds, and the best thing for it is a pressure wash.  Total revitalization!  When you are done you can manipulate the fibers of the turf with a stiff bristled push broom or leaf rake to get them resting in the best intended direction. 

Carpet Kicker.  With most backyard golf greens, and depending on the product you used, the putting surface can slightly move, causing the turf to shift around the cups and where it meets the fringe.  I have found that careful use of a carpet kicker can manipulate the surface to get back into the desired position.  But be careful!  If you come “down” to hard instead of “toward” the direction you need to go with it, it can cause a pretty bad disturbance to the base which, again, is hard to fix.  In extreme cases, the turf may need to be resecured using finishing nails or an adjustment to the seam work where the putting surface meets the fringe.  This action may be best left to your installation company or a Professional.

Shop Vac.  The handy-dandy shop vac!  This puppy is great for cleaning out the cups and getting into other hard to clean areas like the transition from golf green to fringe.

Power Broom.  Not everyone has one of these, and for good reason, they are expensive as all-get-out.  They are a great tool for getting into the fibers and pulling debris to the surface.  They can also manipulate the fiber direction to “pull them back up” if they are matted over.  These are usually the tools of the professionals but can be purchased by a homeowner. 

The use of all these tools, in no particular order, can get things looking great again, if not brand new.  An artificial turf golf green is a HUUUUGGGEEE investment so hopefully this helps you or your install company take the appropriate action to preserving that investment for years to come.   It’s worth noting that my oldest installations are now 20 years old and with proper care and attention they are still functional and beautiful, but of course longevity depends a lot on the quality of the turf.

Other than that, you may want to lightly sand and carefully paint the insides of the cups or you can also spend a little money on new flags and poles which helps give the green a fresh look as well.

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