Artificial Turf Sports Pitches

As specialist sports contractors for 30 years, S&C Slatter have acquired wide-ranging expertise in artificial turf sports pitch construction.

We work with clients at a community, national, and global level and have constructed in excess of 500 synthetic turf pitches, for clients including Eton College, Everton FC and Major League Baseball (MLB).

Read on to learn more about benefits of artificial turf sports pitches or drill down to learn how we build synthetic grass pitches for specific sports using the quick-links below.

Artificial Turf Football Pitch Construction
Artificial Turf Rugby Pitch Construction
Artificial Turf Hockey Pitch Construction
Artificial Turf Multi-Use-Games-Area Construction
Artificial Turf Gen 2 Pitch Construction

Call us on 01635 34521 or email info@sandcslatter.com to discuss your project.

Artificial Turf Sports Pitch Construction

A leading contractor in the sport, education and leisure industries, we’re well placed to deliver small-scale projects for community or educational use, right up to full-scale pitches for elite performance.

Whether it be a full-sized 3G stadium football pitch to FIFA Quality Pro standard, a water-based hockey pitch to FIH Global Elite standard, an ECB approved non-turf cricket system or a World Rugby Regulation 22 Certified synthetic rugby pitch, we work with you based on your needs, limitations and requirements.

We work closely with our artificial turf partners FieldTurf, who are FIFA, World Rugby and FIH Preferred Producers and Notts Sport, who manufacture ECB approved non-turf cricket systems.

S&C Slatter and FieldTurf work in partnership as one of a few select suppliers to the Football Foundation Framework, run in partnership with The FA, Premier League and Department for Culture, Media and Sport. We are also proud to be the first contractor awarded FIH Certified Field Builder status, a certification we have maintained since 2016.

Our dedicated in-house divisions allow us to deliver at every stage of the sports construction process, from design and planning through to construction, civil engineering and maintenance. We are always keen to discuss new sports projects and are happy to offer a free initial consultation.

Call or email for an informal chat about your sporting needs.

Artificial turf pitch refurbishment


For synthetic pitches that have come to the end of their useful life, we undertake refurbishment projects that utilise existing infrastructure whilst implementing new artificial turf systems and improvements. This may involve the removal and replacement of an existing shock-pad and artificial turf system, or perhaps an upgrade to a larger pitch of higher specification, such as from a sand-dressed hockey pitch to a water-based hockey pitch.

Maximising the lifespan of any pitch requires sufficient maintenance. Our dedicated maintenance division experts can advise on what steps can be taken to repair and refresh an artificial turf pitch to extend its useful life, prior to the need for refurbishment.

How to build an artificial turf pitch for sport

There are nine key stages in the construction of an artificial sports pitch, however not all stages are applicable for every sport.

1. Design and planning
This is the crucial stage of developing and producing the design of the sports facility, which is then taken through the planning process. Once granted, technical drawings and specifications are created ready for construction.

2. Environmental considerations
Mitigating the impact of any facility on the environment is an important part of creating a sustainable facility. This can include management of water run-off and drainage, infill migration and considering overspill from floodlighting.

3. Health and safety
On all construction sites, safety should be paramount. This stage involves creating a safe and thoroughly planned construction site that employs best practice and meets all legislative requirements.

4. Earthworks
As with any construction project, foundations are crucial. Following the necessary surveys, reports and designs approved in the design and planning stage, groundworks are undertaken to prepare the land. This might include stripping topsoil, base excavations and the construction of retaining walls.

5. Drainage
At this stage, appropriate drainage is implemented to ensure that the pitch will not become waterlogged during poor weather. The design of drainage will take into account the site location, any required irrigation systems and existing on-site drainage systems.

 

 

6. Sub-base and base
Following the drainage system, the base will be laid, which will vary depending on your pitch design and sporting body requirements. This includes carefully chosen layers of aggregate materials to support the chosen artificial turf system and free drainage of the pitch. For 3G pitches, we commonly construct macadam engineered bases with carefully selected stone sub-bases, overlaid with specialist performance layers. This includes a shockpad system where required.

7. Shockpad
Depending on your artificial turf system, a shockpad may be employed to meet safety requirements and enhance performance standards for your chosen sport.

8. Artificial turf system
The artificial turf, sometimes referred to as the ‘carpet’ is the part of the pitch that you actually see, laid over the shockpad and base. We partner exclusively in England and Wales with world-leading turf producer FieldTurf, who are a select member of the FIFA Preferred Producer Program, FIH Preferred Supplier and World Rugby Preferred Turf Producer, having met the high-quality standards required to deliver elite-level pitches worldwide.

Depending on the sport and system used, the turf may be sand-dressed, sand-filled, non-filled (water based) or 3G, which uses a combined sand and performance infill.

9. Ancillary equipment
Depending on your requirements, ancillary equipment can include goals, floodlighting and perimeter fencing that complies sports governing body standards for your pitch. This also includes the construction of seating areas, team shelters and pavilions.

Call or email our experts to discuss your sports construction project.

Coventry Rugby Club Artificial Turf Rugby Pitch

3G Pitch at Coventry Rugby Club

What is an artificial turf pitch?

Artificial turf pitches are – as the name suggests – pitches produced with grass made from technologically advanced synthetic fibres, instead of natural grass and soil.

The specific names of artificial pitches can vary by sport and construction technology, but across the board are commonly referred to as astro turf, synthetic turf or plastic turf. You may also hear artificial turf referred to as ‘carpet’, due to the manufacturing method of synthetic grass, which is similar to that used in making carpets.

Artificial pitches use infill materials to replicate the bounce and performance of natural grass pitches while protecting the artificial fibres. Infill is usually sand, SBR (rubber), or a mixture of the two. The exception to this is in hockey, where non-fill water-based pitches are used at the top level of the sport.

The type of infill, as well as the density and length of the artificial grass fibres, or ‘pile’, varies by sport and turf system.

Common names for artificial turf sports pitches:

  • 2G/3G/4G/5G + pitch
  • Synthetic pitch
  • AGP (artificial grass pitch)
  • Sand-dressed pitch
  • Water-based pitch
  • Sand-filled pitch
  • Non-turf pitch
  • Gen2 pitch
  • Astro pitch
  • All weather pitch
  • Non-fill pitch
  • Plastic pitch

 

All of these terms refer to pitches made with artificial grass, however some relate specifically to the infill and technology used on pitches designed for specific sports.

What’s the difference between a 2G, 3G and 4G sports pitch?

Artificial pitches are frequently referred to as 2G or 3G, and increasingly more as 4G, 5G or beyond.

These terms reference the generation ‘G’ of artificial turf technology and are generally applicable to artificial pitches constructed for the play of football, hockey, rugby, lacrosse and multi-use games areas.

2G Pitches

2nd Generation pitches use a short pile height combined with a sand infill, making them perfect for hockey pitches and multi-use games areas. 2G Pitches are able to achieve FIH Certification, however the level will vary based on the infill and turf system used.

3G Pitches

3G or 3rd generation pitches utilise a combined sand and performance infill, and have a longer pile height, usually between 40-60mm. Third generation technology is approved for use by FIFA, World Rugby, The FA, RFU and RFL and is perfect for football pitches and rugby pitches.

See a selection of 3G pitches we have constructed for clients in our football and rugby case studies.

 

3G Pitches are the only generation of artificial turf football pitch that can achieve FIFA Quality, FIFA Quality Pro and/or World Rugby Regulation 22 certification. 3G pitches can be used for training at all levels of football, for match play at men’s National League step 5 and below, all levels of Scottish, Welsh and Women’s football. In rugby, 3G pitches can be used for matchplay and training in all levels of the RFU and RFL.

3G pitches can be used for low level hockey and multi-sport applications.

 

4G pitches

There are new technologies emerging, which rely on the use of artificial turf without the need for rubber crumb infill – these are commonly referred to as ‘4G’ or ‘5G’ pitches. However, whilst this ‘4G’ technology exists, it is still in the early stages of development. The lack of infill means that these pitches are yet to pass the safety and performance tests laid out by FIFA and World Rugby, so cannot achieve FIFA Quality, FIFA Quality Pro or World Rugby Regulation 22 certification.

 

So, the key difference between 2G, 3G and 4G artificial turf is the type of sport that can be played on each surface, and which technology type is actually approved for use within major sports. Currently 4G technology is not approved for use by any sports governing body.

How about water-based, sand-dressed and sand-filled pitches?

These three synthetic turf types are generally used in the construction of hockey fields, however sand-dressed and sand-filled pitches are also suitable for multi-use games areas.

The names here refer to the combination of turf and infill (or lack thereof) utilised in the artificial turf system, and each type is suitable for different standard of hockey play.

Water-based hockey pitches are also referred to as ‘non-fill’ turf pitches, as they contain no infill. Instead the synthetic fibres are short and very densely packed, then watered heavily prior to use. The water reduces friction and allows for a smoother, faster game, while providing protection to the players on the field. These pitches are mandatory at the very highest international level of the sport, are Category 1 England Hockey Pitches and can achieve an FIH Global Elite or Global certification.

Sand-dressed pitches are a step below water-based pitches, however can still be used for lower level national, regional and club hockey. Capable of a achieving an FIH National performance standard, sand-dressed pitches are Category 2 England Hockey Pitches and use sand to partially support the synthetic fibres, which are still short, but less densely packed.

Sand-filled pitches are Category 3 England Hockey pitches most suited to community and introductory hockey. The turf system has longer synthetic fibres, so sand is used as an infill to support 100% of the pile depth. If designed specifically for hockey use, they can achieve FIH National certification, or an FIH multi-sport certification if used in the construction of a multi-use games area on which hockey will be played.

How much does it cost to build an artificial pitch?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this. The biggest factor will what sport the pitch will be used for, as different sports have different requirements in terms of drainage, bases and artificial turf systems.

For example, the average starting cost for a brand new full sized 3G artificial grass pitch (AGP) for rugby or football is around £650,000, a full-sized sand-dressed hockey pitch may start at £700,000 or a 2-3 court multi-use games area from £140,000.

Beyond the chosen sport, there are a number of factors which can vastly impact the overall cost of construction for a synthetic turf pitch.

These factors include:
- The overall size of the pitch
- Scope of groundworks required
- Chosen base, sub-base and shock pad
- Chosen artificial turf system based on needs and standards (e.g. FIFA, FIH or World Rugby performance standards)
- Environmental mitigation methods
- Floodlighting, fencing and equipment requirements
- Ancillary equipment (team shelters, pavilions, spectator areas)

Beyond the construction of the pitch itself and installation of any supporting equipment, additional work is nearly always required in the form of civil engineering. This may be on a small scale such as access pathways and hard standings, or include larger scale works such as new roadways and car parks. These elements may need to be factored into your overall project costs.

The cost for synthetic pitch resurfacing is often significantly lower, due to much of the infrastructure (foundations, floodlighting, civil engineering) already being in place.

Please get in touch if you’d like an example of a detailed breakdown of project costs for a specific sport, or a quote on the cost of building an artificial turf pitch based on your requirements.

Construction underway for a new synthetic pitch

How long does it take to build an artificial turf pitch?


The design and planning stage – as with many other forms of construction – generally takes up the most time in a project’s progress.

Once planning is granted and a bespoke programme of construction is agreed, the typical length of time on-site to construct a new full-sized artificial pitch for hockey, rugby, football or lacrosse is generally between 12-14 weeks, with resurfacing in the region of 6-8 weeks. For smaller pitches, such as 5-a-side football pitches or multi-use games areas, resurfacing may take as little as 2 weeks!

What funding is available for artificial pitch construction?


Many leisure operators, professional sports clubs and independent schools choose to fund their sports pitches privately or through capital expenditure. There are however a number of additional funding options available to sports clubs and schools.

Government Grants


Sport England has a number of funding options available for a multitude of needs, which may be suitable for your organisation. There are also sport-specific grants available, such as those allocated by the Football Foundation, set up by the FA, Premier League and UK Government to promote and develop grassroots football. S&C Slatter, with our partners FieldTurf, are official suppliers to the Football Foundation AGP Framework. If you are a club or organisation that benefits your local community, you may be also able to apply for grants directly from your local or regional council. Refer to your local council page for more information on what may be available in your area.

We would advise looking into your eligibility for these types of grants, to see if you are suitable to apply, and if it will cover the cost of your required facility. These grants can vary in size and may need to be supported by private or community fundraising efforts.

Sports Operating Leases


If grants aren’t suitable for your needs, private funding options may be preferable, such as operating leases, which you can find out more about on our funding page, or by checking out our recent work with the John Madejski Academy, who utilised an operating lease to fund their 3G artificial turf pitch, offsetting the cost with pitch hire.

What are the benefits of artificial turf pitches over a natural turf pitches?

Although designed aesthetically to look like a top quality natural grass pitch, the purpose of artificial sports turf is not just to look pretty, it’s very different to the type of artificial turf you might find in a garden or play area.

Artificial sports turf systems are designed to deliver durable, first class sporting facilities in terms of both performance and safety – the bonus being that they and don’t rely on the weather to function, unlike natural turf pitches.

To ensure safe and consistent ‘all-weather’ play, artificial turf is ideal for use in the sports, education and leisure sectors.

Key benefits of artificial turf sports pitches over natural turf sports pitches:

Usability
On average, natural turf pitches can be used between 2-6 hours of adult use per week, depending on the appropriate maintenance, management and drainage of the pitch.

Whilst this might be enough for a dedicated ‘match’ pitch, this would not be suitable for a pitch used for training, hire or match play for multiple clubs.

Artificial grass sports pitches can handle between 60-80 hours of adult use per week, over 10x the maximum amount a natural turf pitch can be used. With schools, professional clubs and leisure centres using pitches on a daily basis for training, match play and pitch hire – it’s clear which option is best suited – and which will generate the most revenue and value for money in the long term.

The weather also comes into play here – if a natural turf pitch is badly impacted by the weather, those playing hours can slip down to 0 hours a week if it’s not safe to play.

Artificial turf pitches can be constructed indoors or outdoors - they don’t require that elusive sunshine for maintenance or playability.

Safety

British weather can be unforgiving. During a spell of heavy rainfall, snow or freezing weather, natural turf pitches can become too dangerous and unfit for play, leading to fixture cancellations.

 

Commonly called ‘all-weather’ pitches, artificial turf pitches are designed to be free draining to prevent waterlogging and freezing. This, combined with infill utilised to ensure safe grip levels, means that pitches are safe to use year-round.

 

Laser-guided base and shock pad installation contributes to this also, providing a consistent, level, playing surface across the field.

 

Performance

This consistent playing surface isn’t just about safety – it provides a more reliable and long-lasting performance standard than that offered by poorly maintained natural grass pitches. Where lumps, bumps and holes can occur in natural grass pitches, artificial grass football pitches are more durable over hundreds of hours of use.

How long does an artificial pitch last for?

A synthetic turf pitch generally has a lifespan of around 10 years, depending on the quality of construction, weekly hours of usage and consistent, disciplined levels of maintenance.

How do you maintain a synthetic surface?

Whilst artificial pitches don’t require aeration, watering or cutting like natural grass pitches, regular maintenance unique to artificial turf is still required to maximise the lifespan, safety and performance of the pitch.

Maintenance programs should be implemented based on factors like hours of use, and can include regular brushing, decompaction, managing infill levels and moss/weed removal.

Failing to properly maintain an artificial pitch can cause issues with drainage and grip, and potentially void any manufacturer warranty you may have.

Please refer to our maintenance page for more information on the types of maintenance required for artificial turf or contact our dedicated maintenance team to discuss your needs.

Are artificial turf pitches suitable for elite sport?

Artificial turf pitches are approved and certified for use by a number of sports governing bodies.

Artificial 3G pitches in the FA

Only third generation (3G) types of artificial grass pitches are currently accepted by The FA and FIFA. Pitches must be tested to achieve FIFA Quality or FIFA Quality Pro certification and to be registered as an approved 3G Pitch on the FA Register. 3G pitches can be used for match play in National League Step 5 and below in English Men's football*, at all levels of women’s football, all levels of the Scottish Professional Football league and all levels of the Welsh Football league.

*3G pitches are commonly used for training in all levels of English men's football, including the Premier League.

Artificial 3G pitches in the RFU/RFL

As with football, only third generation 3G synthetic pitches are currently accepted by World Rugby, the RFU and RFL and must be tested to achieve World Rugby Regulation 22 certification. 3G pitches are approved for use in all levels of the RFU and RFL.

 

 

Artificial hockey pitches in England Hockey

Since 1976, synthetic turf pitches have been mandatory for all major hockey competitions and play. Water-based hockey pitches may be used at all levels of play and are mandatory for Olympic and World cup play. Water-based pitches are the only pitches that can achieve FIH Global Elite or FIH Global certification, and are Category 1 level pitches for England Hockey.

Sand-dressed and sand-filled pitches, provided they are constructed specifically for hockey use, are accepted for lower level national, regional and club level play, and can achieve a maximum FIH National Certification performance level.

Artificial pitches in the ECB

Selected non-turf cricket pitches are approved for use by the ECB, such as those manufactured by our partner Notts Sport providing they comply with the ECB’s Code of Practice and Technical Requirements for the Design and Installation of Non-Turf Cricket Facilities.

How can I get my artificial pitch FIFA, FA, World Rugby or FIH Certified?


Pitches require testing to achieve a specific standard of certification by major sporting bodies such as FIFA, The FA, World Rugby or the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

We provide clients with a choice of independent third-party testing organisations who are able to carry out these tests and can incorporate this into the cost of the pitch.

The cost of testing (per governing body) is usually between £1500 – £3000.

Are artificial turf pitches bad for the environment?


Over the years, concerns have been raised by artificial turf, dubbed ‘plastic pitches’, however it’s important to consider these environmental considerations alongside the social, physical and mental health benefits artificial turf pitches can bring – such as improving access to sport for those living in areas with poor weather or limited outdoor space.

The durability of artificial turf pitches is also important, as it allows not only for more sport to be played (again improving access to sport), but helps community organisations to generate revenue through pitch hire, far more than can be achieved with the limitations of natural turf.

When compared to natural turf pitches, artificial pitches even have some positive impacts on the environment - they don’t require the large amounts of water that natural turf pitches take to maintain. US research showed that each full-sized artificial football field saves between 1.8 – 3.7 million litres of water each year compared to a natural turf field of the same size.

S&C Slatter are consistently championing environmental innovation, education and mitigation methods in the artificial turf industry. We offer environmental mitigation methods to clients in line with the recommendations made by environmental charity Fidra.

Are artificial pitches safe?


Gone are the days of ‘pitch burn’ from early, first generation artificial pitches.

Modern day artificial turf pitches provide a level playing surface, with appropriate pile length and densities, infills and shock pad systems designed for safety in the sport being played. Recognised by major sporting bodies such as FIFA, RFU, FIH, RFL and ECB, artificial turf pitches are approved for, and used from community right through to elite level sport.

To see a selection of our work, view our case studies by sport:

Artificial turf pitches constructed by S&C Slatter

S&C Slatter have 30 years’ experience in sports construction, and are experts in the design, construction and maintenance of artificial turf pitches for football, rugby, hockey, cricket, lacrosse and multi-use games areas.

We’re FIH Certified Field Builders for hockey, and along with our artificial turf partners FieldTurf, we are one of a few select suppliers to the Football Foundation Framework. We install ECB approved non-turf cricket pitches with our partners Notts Sport and are experienced in constructing artificial pitches to FIFA Quality Pro, FIFA Quality, FIH Global and World Rugby Regulation 22 performance standards.

We provide trusted solutions to the sport, leisure and education sectors, with clients including Everton Football Club, Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate and the University of Cambridge.

If you have any further questions on artificial turf pitches, or would like to discuss your project, please get in touch.

For more information call 01635 34521 or email enquiries@slattersportsconstruction.com