4G is the latest in artificial grass technology, designed to replicate the playing experience you get on grass but without all the muck, mess and hassle that natural surfaces can sometimes present. It’s a system that’s now been adopted by top Premier League clubs including Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham among others, and it seems to be the next step for football turf as a whole.
3G – the de facto standard in football synthetic pitches – uses a rubber crumb and silica sand infill to help keep the blades of artificial grass upright and to give a realistic ball bounce. The new 4G artificial grass surface dispenses with the need for this infill altogether, and instead adds extra synthetic fibres to create a surface that mimics the thatch layer found in real grass.
One of the main reasons for this is to create a surface that can be used by more sports than just football. Rugby players need a softer, deeper pile that will cushion a fall and a hockey surface will require the surfacing to be fast playing, so adding more fibres helps to cater for a wider range of sports.
To achieve this, the synthetic grass is woven with a variety of different fibres that are mixed together, to create a surface with the appearance and playing characteristics of real grass. The fibres are also engineered to be as resilient as possible, so they can withstand the wear and tear that comes from intensive use and regular maintenance.
In order to get the best performance from a football pitch, it needs to be regularly maintained throughout the year, as would any natural grass surface. Brushing and de-compacting the pitch, treating it with chemical agents to prevent weeds and other unwanted growth, and physically removing any weeds that grow through the stone perimeter of the surface, will all go a long way to ensuring that the playing surface is kept at its very best.
Artificial pitches are also a much more reliable playing surface than natural grass, which can be unpredictable due to weather conditions. If it’s raining, then the ground can quickly become muddy and difficult to play on, and if the temperature is too high then the grass can become dry and brittle. With a good quality 3G or 4G artificial grass pitch, however, these problems are all eliminated.
Of course, it’s important to choose the right footwear for a 4G football pitch, and using a pair of rounded FG studs or a dual-purpose AG soleplate will help to reduce your risk of injury and prolong the life of the surface. Flat trainers should be avoided, as they can damage the surface. Also, never wear metal studs or spikes on an artificial grass pitch as these can cause serious injuries to players.