Alpine Services challenged industry assumptions by removing faulty artificial turf, correcting the substrate and reinstalling the original turf

“This was a tough situation. The conventional wisdom was that trying to reuse turf was more trouble than it was worth, but we challenged that assumption with some outside-the-box thinking.
— Grove Teates, President, Alpine Services”
Alpine Services was asked to fix 41,000 sq ft of faulty artificial turf at a university by removing it, fixing the base and reinstalling the same turf again.

A mid-western university purchased about 41,000 square feet of artificial turf from a nationally known company to cover its baseball infield.  The turf was multi-colored with inlaid lines and was installed on a drain-board type base.

The university expected the usual benefits of artificial turf – superior drainage, good grades on the surface, stellar surfaces for even ball roll, and reduced maintenance. Although the new surface was expensive, everyone was giddy with high expectations.

After one year of use, the surface was distorted and uneven, and there was ponding along the edges of the field.  There was no joy in Mudville. 

The turf company wanted its product to be perfect, knew the customer was most unhappy, and felt the pressure to do something quickly due to the approaching season.

Alpine was asked to Help

When Grove Teates, president of Alpine Services, arrived at the worksite, he discovered a particularly complex problem.  Not only was the turf a mess, but the infill was not the usual crumb rubber.  A specialty infill had been used.  It did not give up moisture easily and did not lend itself to easy removal.  Teates quickly determined that if the turf was to be removed for remediation, the turf and infill would have to be moved together—making the materials very heavy.

In addition, drain mats used were also a consideration; there were thousands of them under the field, cut to the exact shape of the field, and they also needed to be unlocked, palletized, and stored for re-use.  Furthermore, the existing liner, which was under the mats, had been compromised in many places.

Nonetheless, the turf company asked Alpine Services to fix the problems and reinstall the existing turf.

“This was a tough situation,” said Teates.  “The conventional wisdom was that trying to reuse turf was more trouble than it was worth, but we challenged that assumption with some outside-the-box thinking.”

The Solution

Alpine Services examined the situation and felt that, although a project of this magnitude and importance had not been done before, that it was possible.  Alpine selected J. Moxie and Sons to consult and then do the turf side of the project, ranging from marking and indexing each piece of turf, to cutting the turf, and then accomplishing the entire process of re-installing the turf with the aid of Alpine’s equipment, which had been specially designed for this purpose and this job.

After the turf was marked and cut, Alpine used its custom-built turf roller to roll each piece of turf neatly; the turf rolls were stacked in orderly rows based upon the index system.

The mat removal took seven people five days to complete.  Many thousands of mats were stacked on pallets and moved to the warning track away from the work area.  The liner was removed and discarded because it was damaged beyond repair.

Alpine then spent the time necessary to determine what grades and grade points the previous contractor had used.  It became apparent that there was no order or plan, so Teates and his crew began anew and re-graded the field to Alpine’s standards, remedying all low spots, puddles and humps, and implementing a general drainage plan from the pitcher’s mound to the sides of the field.

The existing drains between the infield arc and outfield were replaced and a new curb was installed.  The drains between the field and dugouts-stadium, etc., were excavated and about half of the drain ditches were replaced with 12-inch-wide HydraWay drain.  Since the drain backfill was severely contaminated with dirt, it was replaced throughout the drain system with clean backfill stone.  Any remaining pipes that were used were examined with closed circuit TV to ensure that they were not compromised in any way.

As luck would have it, when the grading and drains were completed, the job was interrupted with heavy rain—which was a great test of Alpine’s grading ability.

“There were no water puddles on the field. We could continue to re-build the field with total confidence in the water removal process and design,” said Teates.

A 20-mil-thick liner was used to seal the surface and the mats were replaced on the field.  The turf was moved back onto the field with a fork lift and Alpine’s turf roller was used to unroll the rolls without damage to the base and to re-align it according to the index marks.

“It was necessary to use a small excavator with a special gripper bar to slide the turf over the mats and into place since the turf was so very heavy,” recalled Teates.

The Results

“The turf now looks great with all old, bad seams replaced so neatly that it’s difficult to see any seams at all.  The field, with the infilled turf on it, has received 10″ of rain in the last 10 days and there has never been any water on it.  Everyone at the university and the turf company is impressed, relieved and happy,” said Teates.

“Alpine Services and J. Moxie & Sons are grateful that they were selected for this difficult challenge since it allowed both companies to develop techniques that are both necessary and unique to handle and exactly replace artificial turf that has been used and still has the infill in it,” said Teates.  “The companies have grown in experience, expertise and reputation because they were selected for this work, resulting in the redemption of an almost new field under circumstances that were thought to be quite uncommon, if not impossible.”

“Most importantly, the university now has a proper field, the turf vendor preserved an excellent artificial turf infield, and saved considerable monies over replacing the turf,” said Teates.  “All parties are happy.”

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