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Let’s Talk Turf

Feb 02, 2024

Let’s Talk Turf - Real, Artificial, and Why It Matters to the Big Game!

Football on football field turf


Let’s talk about the real superstar of the Super Bowl (at least as far as we’re concerned): turf! 


An NFL field measures 100 yards by 53.3 yards and is composed of either natural or artificial turf. Nowadays, about half of all NFL stadiums use natural grass and the other half use artificial turf.  While it may not make a huge visual difference, the type of surface used in an NFL football field requires very different upkeep, has different advantages to the game, and can even impact player safety. 

Natural Turf

Natural turf fields are made of grass varieties like Bermuda grass, perennial ryegrass, and Kentucky bluegrass. They are meticulously maintained by groundskeepers who specialize in athletic fields. These fields require irrigation, drainage, and regular nurturing with soil tests, fertilization, mowing, and aeration. Heat lamps and other heating systems may be employed to simulate sunlight and maintain optimal soil temperatures all year long. For each game, the fields are marked with three or four coats of paint, measuring up to hundreds of gallons!


For the Super Bowl, the natural grass field gets an extra level of TLC. The sod is grown from seed about 1.5 to 2 years in advance. The thousands of feet of sod are then carefully transported to the stadium and then installed in place of the previous surface. In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, the grass is nourished and protected so that it is the healthiest, greenest, and safest surface possible by the big day.


Natural grass fields do have their downsides. In addition to all the extensive maintenance and expense required to keep a grass field healthy, the fields are prone to damage and divots, just like a regular lawn, especially considering all the heavy running and tackling. In conditions of rain, natural grass football fields can become muddy and slippery, which can result in player injuries. 

Artificial Turf

Around the 1960s, NFL stadiums began converting to artificial turf. Artificial turf is cheaper and easier to maintain than real grass turf, and the surface is harder and springier, which gives players much more speed than is possible on natural turf. Instead of requiring all the care that goes into growing healthy grass, artificial turf needs to be groomed, brushed, cleaned, repaired, and infilled. Artificial fields are marked with a water-soluble or chalk paint, which can be washed away after each game and reapplied at the next. And the artificial turf can be rolled up and stored when it is not needed. This allows stadiums to be more flexible, especially when they host other types of events like concerts.


Despite these benefits, artificial turf has a major drawback for players. Research has shown that 16% more foot and leg injuries occur per play on artificial turf compared to natural grass turf, as well as 20% more non-contact injuries. For this reason, the NFL player’s union has repeatedly called on the NFL in recent years to switch to all natural turf for the sake of player safety and the longevity of their careers.

Hybrid Turf

There is actually a third turf option, which may offer the best of both worlds. Two NFL stadiums (Lambeau Field and Lincoln Financial Field) use a hybrid turf, in which synthetic grass fibers are blended into natural grass turf. This can make the turf more resilient, safe, cost-effective, and better looking.

Super Bowl LVIII

For Super Bowl LVIII, the San Francisco 49ers will take on the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada. The stadium actually uses two types of turf on a regular basis. For college games (University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels), artificial turf is laid over the concrete floor. It’s easily removed and stored away until it’s needed again. For NFL games (Las Vegas Raiders), natural Bermuda grass turf is wheeled into the stadium via a 200 ton retractable field. This allows the natural turf to be watered and cared for outside the stadium, where it can have adequate sunlight and nourishment without the risk of unnecessary damage between games. Fortunately, both the 49ers and the Chiefs are used to playing on natural turf at their home stadiums (Levi’s Stadium and GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, respectively). 

Your Home Turf

Here at Weed Man, we know nothing beats the look and feel of a natural grass lawn. Your home turf deserves all the care and attention of a professional football field. Weed Man is here to help you nourish your lawn with expert lawn care services, including fertilization, weed control, mechanical core aeration, and more!


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