History of Artificial Turf

In 1966 the Monsanto Company launched the first all weather sports surface, a short pile, monofilament ribbon carpet which could withstand adverse weather conditions and sports use. It was originally designed to simulate grasses for decorative purposes and was first demonstrated for sports use in Houston Astrodome from which came the name, AstroTurf. Even though the name astroturf is a registered trademark, it is commonly used today as a generic description for all artificial turf.

Since the launch of Astro Turf, artificial surfaces have evolved from sand dressed, water-based surfaces, which were designed to provide a weather resistant surface for outdoor use and capable of withstanding adverse weather conditions for several months with low degradation but had poor shock absorption resulting in jury and skin abrasions.

As the huge potential benefits of all weather sports surfaces became clear including: low maintenance costs, resistance to heavy use & 24/7 playability with no requirement for watering or irrigation, significant research and investment was made to address the obvious limitations and the valuable revenue streams that could result from such installations. They have now evolved significantly and many are now comparable to natural grass.

This modern system is known as Third Generation turf has sand or rubber infill and Latex backing to keep the grass fibres upright and provide a more realistic ball movement that simulates natural grass. The infill also improves shock absorbency in case a player falls on the ground and in some cases, the Third Generation turf is even softer than natural grass. See structure of an artificial pitch.

'Third Generation' Artificial Turf and has a wide range of sports turf applications including: football and rugby pitches, hockey fields, tennis courts, bowling greens and golf putting greens. In addition, Third Generation turf surfaces enable indoor sports to be played on a grass playing surface, as natural grass is just too expensive to maintain. The problem of "astro turf burns" has also been resolved with third generation turf because the long grass blades coated in silicone are a low-abrasive surface.

Many clubs have installed the Third Generation Astroturf surfaces (3g turf'), often as part of an all-weather training capability. Other clubs which have maintained natural grass surfaces are now re-considering artificial grass. With clubs looking to reduce both the maintenance costs and the number of winter matches that are cancelled due to the playing surface being frozen resulting in financial losses many are turning to the artificial surfaces even sports' governing bodies have started to discuss the use of them.

In addition to the sports fields the use of synthetic grass has become increasingly popular in residential and commercial landscaping. The dramatic improvement in the quality and variety of synthetic grasses; the reduced maintenance costs and the fact that artificial lawns do not require watering so are resistant to draught an dare require minimal care makes artificial grass ideal for lawns etc. White Horse Contractors have a specialist artificial lawn installation team see www.grassisalwaysgreen.co.uk

Visit our gallery of Artificial Sports Turf pitch construction.

For more info or to make an enquiry on our 3G turf pitches, artificial grass or all weather pitches, synthetic grass or artificial turf replacement either
click here
or call us on:
01865 736272

Case Studies

FIFA Club World Cup, Abu Dhabi
White Horse Contractors have recently delivered international standard football pitches; including both tournament match pitches and training pitches; as well as the first full size rugby pitch, to the FIFA Club World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC) in Abu Dhabi...
Full story

Building schools for the future
Developing outside space for schools has as much impact on the local environment as constructing the buildings themselves. White Horse Contractors is able to minimise this while keeping time and budgeting focussed…
Full story

Chelsea Football Club
After its grand opening and first official game, the final match pitches at Chelsea Football Club’s Cobham training ground are now open…Full story


“Despite challenging ground and weather conditions, White Horse Contractors provided the University with an outstanding artificial sports pitch for football and rugby training.”

Dr Tudor Williams, Head of Sport at the University of Glamorgan.

“I have no hesitation in endorsing the excellent work White Horse Contractors carried out for the school. The timescales for the project were very tight and White Horse delivered our all weather pitches on time and more importantly within budget. The development has revolutionised sport at Pinewood, performing excellently in all weathers for hockey, netball and five-a-side alike.”

Philip Hoyland, Headmaster, Pinewood School.