WEBINAR RECAP – Rec + Research: Growing Natural Turf in Recycled Sand

  • September 14, 2023

In the latest Rec+ Research webinar we were joined by the team from SPORTENG as they shared information about the current trial they are undertaking in conjunction with City of Boroondara Council, testing whether recycled glass sand can be used as a growing medium for natural turf Fields of Play – a commendation winner in the 2022 PLA (Vic/Tas) Awards of Excellence for ‘Best Use of Technology’.

Thanks to all who attended and took part in the discussion, and of course a big thank you to our presenters for the session – Lucas and Amy – for their time and expertise. You can find the full webinar recording at the link below.


About the trial

If successful, the trial may potentially open up the opportunity to develop natural turf ovals and pitches with a fully

recycled product, reducing potential waste to landfill and reducing the need to quarry virgin materials.

The initial enquiries with glass recycling companies identified a product that had comparable physical properties and characteristics as conventional USGA specified sands. Side-by-side the two materials visually appeared different, with the recycled glass sand having a shimmer through it.

Stage 1

A suitable site was identified with City of Boroondara and 6m x 6m plot was excavated and framed to create three zones. The constructed trial consists of three different profiles, each with a 300mm thick growing medium overlying a drainage gravel layer:

  • Trial plot 1: conventional quarried rootzone sand
  • Trial plot 2: recycled glass sand
  • Trial plot 3: 50/50 blend of conventional quarried rootzone sand and recycled glass sand

Tahoma 31 (hybrid bermudagrass) from Evergreen Turf was then layed across each zone with monitoring and testing conducted on the profile to determine whether it is a sustainable alternative to quarried sands for the use in the construction of natural turf field.

Stage 2

Following the Stage 1 nursery trial, SPORTENG Field of Play Team members Amy Dingle and Andrew Morrow, supported by Nick Marino and the Turf Team from the City of Boroondara Council, have installed Stage 2 of the trial.

This new stage sees a 50/50 blend of recycled glass and rootzone sand installed into the existing rootzone at HA Smith reserve.

Two areas have been selected to monitor performance under high wear conditions, e.g. main entry/exit point and a more typical infield area that will receive use from cricket and soccer players.

The team of qualified agronomists and civil engineers will assess the field on a quarterly basis to monitor the performance of both the trial plots and the overall field. Metrics will include turf health and composition, root depth, thatch depth, moisture, infiltration, traction, hardness and nutrients.

Thanks to the speakers

Amy Dingle

Turf Agronomist, SPORTENG

 Lucas Skelton

Field of Play Team Leader, SPORTENG

Brought to you in partnership with:
About the Rec+ Research initiative:

Parks and Leisure Australia Vic/Tas Region (PLA Vic/Tas) and Rec People have created a partnership to bring evidence-based research findings from sport, recreation, leisure, play, parks and open space sectors to the physical activity industry. The joint initiative Rec+ Research is a result of both organisations recognising a need to deliver a dedicated program that identifies and presents the latest industry research findings directly to the practitioners who are responsible for the planning and delivery of programs, services and infrastructure in our communities.

The goal of Rec+ Research is to keep industry professionals up to date with the latest data and research on parks and open space provision and usage, sport and recreation facility provision, and physical activity programs and services. To discuss opportunities to present your research findings as part of Rec+ Research, please contact Dan Ferguson, Executive Officer, Parks and Leisure Australia (Vic/Tas) on victas@parksleisure.com.au or 0432 334 054.