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A short history of artificial turf – From ‘Chemgrass’ to crumb rubber and beyond

By Denise Valenzuela

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A short history of artificial turf – From ‘Chemgrass’ to crumb rubber and beyond

Artificial turf has come a long way since it was first invented.  Today it’s used all over the world for an array of applications.  Here we take a look at the short history of turf development and progress.

Invented in 1964 by Monsanto, the first iterations of artificial turf were little more than synthetic ‘grass’ laid on top of concrete. First called “ChemGrass,” the product became famous as “AstroTurf” after it was installed in Houston’s Astrodome in 1966. Some athletes, however, complained that the thin, synthetic surface made for hard landings and increased injury risk.  From the 1970-2000’s very little innovation occurred with turf grass.  The primary reason being that the environmental movement did not go full steam until the 90’s.  After the green revolution and an increased consciousness of many people and businesses to move to environmentally friendly products turf became a popular means of going green and saving money.

By the early 2000s, a better form of artificial turf had emerged. Called styrene butadiene rubber, or “crumb rubber,” the new turf contained tiny black crumbs made from pulverized car tires, poured in between the fake grass blades. The rubber infill gave the field more bounce, cushioned the impact for athletes, and helped prevent serious injuries.

Since then, the material has become increasingly popular. Municipalities across the country have floated multi-million-dollar bonds to pay for new fields. Most Local leaders, and some facility managers and companies know that turf costs less than natural grass to maintain, and can withstand heavy use year-round.

Today, according to figures from the Synthetic Turf Council, more than 11,000 synthetic turf sports fields are in use in the U.S. Most of them are crumb rubber. Crumb rubber infill is also used in children’s playgrounds across the country as well as commercial business through out the country.

Crumb rubber is an “environmental success story. Not only have turf fields diverted millions of tires from landfills, but they don’t require fertilizer or pesticides, and can save municipalities hundreds of thousands of gallons of water each year.

Currently the synthetic turf grass technology has improved even beyond crumb rubber infill to new even safer methods.  For more information on the specific technology used at Five Star Commercial Turf click HERE.

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