• Free Quotes
  • Free Surveys
  • Free Samples

Guest Blogger: Andy McCague… ‘To Panel or not to Panel?’

Posted on: 30th January, 2018

Andrew McCague has been working in the synthetic turf industry for over 10 years. Initially specialising in synthetic golf putting greens and short game practice facilities his company developed a reputation for its high standard and superb attention to detail. He has excellent knowledge and experience of Perfect Base panel system.

Andrew outlines the advantages of Perfect Base…

“To complete a quality synthetic grass installation you first need a solid and stable foundation on which the grass can be installed. Traditionally this is done by excavating the natural soil, laying down a geotextile and importing tons of stone, but there are alternatives. One alternative is a specially designed plastic panel. This panel has fantastic drainage capacity, needs only a small amount of ground preparation in order to use it and is better value than you might think! Lets look at a couple of scenarios to see if the time has come to adopt this new technology.Here are Andrew’s views…


Specifics vary a little from site to site and also with the scale of the project. Installing synthetic turf  in a garden totalling 50-80m2 presents a different set of challenges to those of a 648m2 MUGA or a full size football field at 7500m2 yet, in principle, they are all the same: A thick layer of type 1 or 2 stone material with a thin layer of dust material, possibly a shockpad, and then the synthetic turf itself.

For the moment we will focus on sports applications but feel free to skip ahead if you’re more interested in landscape applications.

Scenario :- MUGA 36m x 18m 648m2

Let’s assume that the client has an area of level ground, currently irregularly mown grass, and they would like to convert it to a Multi Use Games Area, predominantly with football in mind. The ground hasn’t had any disturbance or activity for the last 3 years. Access for machinery and materials is good.

The process for the minimal traditional stone base would involve removing soil to a depth of 125mm, installing curb stones, adding a geotextile, then adding 100mm of type 1 crushed stone and then a further 25mm of dust material. The shockpad would be on top of that and finally the synthetic carpet. The whole process involves:-

  • The removal of 81m3 of material or approximately 121 Tons

  • The addition of 150Tons of stone materials

  • Large machinery, excavators, dump trucks, loader (5days)

  • Labour of about a week for a team of 3 or 4

  • Shockpad 648m2

Total approximate cost to the client around £20,000

Now let’s compare this to the panel solution.

The panels require the removal of the grass sod only to a depth of about 30mm, curb stones are installed and a thin layer of stone material is spread over the whole area and compacted. A geotextile is added and the panels are installed before the synthetic turf is placed on top. The process now looks like this:-

  • The removal of 19m3 of grass sod or approximately 30 Tons

  • The addition of 17 Ton of dust material

  • Small machines, turf stripper, excavator, dumper (2 days)

  • Panels 648m2

  • Labour of about 3 days for 2

  • Shockpad (Nil)

Total approximate cost to the client around £16,500

As you can see using the panels has saved around £3500. It could be argued that this saving is due to the panel not requireing a shockpad. But what if the client didn’t specify a shockpad or one simply wasn’t need? Well I would still say the panel has the edge over the traditional base. Let’s consider the logistics for one moment. If the site is favourable, it will be possible to get an 8 wheeled lorry with a 20 Ton capacity for the removal of the waste, a traditional base will require 14 of these. If the roads and site acess only permit a 6 wheeled lorry with a 15 Ton capacity then that number increases to 18.

6wtipper 15Ton

 grab-lorry 20Ton
 The panel system will only require 3, 15 Ton lorries to site including the delivery of the panels. The pressure on local infastructure is very much reduced and the potential for the schedule to slip due to a lorry not arriving on time has also been dramatically reduced.


For this type of project even without a shockpad I would still install the panel system over the traditional base.

Scenario :- Artificial lawn 50m2

The client has a young family which use the back garden a lot but much of the lawn is in shade where growing conditions are less than favourable and it has become unusable a lot of the time. The only access is directly through the house.

In this scenario we can install a wooden surround edge to retain the 100mm of total base material which is installed on top of a weed membrane before installing the synthetic turf.

  • Remove 7.5 Ton of soil

  • Bring in 9 Ton of stone materials

  • There’s no access for machinery so turf cutter and the rest is done by hand.

  • All materials need to go through the house so labour is 2 guys 3 days

 Total approximate cost to the client £2,500

For the panels we need only remove 35mm of grass sod and bring in minimal amount of stone, geotextile and the panels themselves.

  • Remove 2.25 Ton of grass and soil

  • Bring in 1.5 Ton of stone dust material

  • Turf cutter

  • Panels 50m2

  • Labour 2 guys 1 day

Total approximate cost to the client £1,875

So in this scenario because of the poor access the time saved in not having to remove a large quantity of soil and bring in tons of stone material has made the panel an ideal choice. Not only that but the customer only has one day of disruption compared to 3 with the traditional system.


Any site that has drainage issues can be resolved using the panel system and in a very cost effective way. Be it someone’s back garden or a full size football field I would highly recomend using the panel system. With a vertical drainage capacity of 1,600 L/hr and an even greater horizontal capacity, water has no problem permiating at all. The panels themselves provide a 7.5 litre storage capacity. For poor draining sites it’s recomended that a perimeter drain is installed and the main surface is graded in such a way that all water is going to naturally run off and be shed from the surface. The whole area is then covered in a non permiable membrane and the panels installed on top. Water simply permiates through the panels to the membrane and then flows laterally to the perimeter drain.

No lengthy herringbones to install, no water logged base material and a significant cost saving.


There will definitely still be instances where a traditional base will be more cost effective in comparison to the panel alternative proposed here, a site that is very uneven and needs quite a bit of stone base work to level it in order to lay the panel or a large site with easy access for machines where soil disposal can be done on site and the aggregate can be bought at a cheap rate are 2 very good examples. However in my opinion as soil disposal and transport costs become more expensive there will be more and more instances where the panel would deliver a more cost effective and timely synthetic turf solution”

Thanks Andrew! For more information on Perfectly Green Perfect Base system please contact us on 01825 729259 or [email protected]


  • Categories

  • See our Grass Range

    See the full range of fake grass products Perfectly Green offers.

    See the full grass range >

    Order a Free Sample

    Request a free artificial grass sample pack to be posted to you.

    Order your free sample >
  • Call us free: 01825 729 259