The importance of 3G pitch maintenance

Find out how keeping your pitch maintained can save you money and protect your players from injury.

3G pitches are a great alternative to natural grass.  They will enable you to play all year round and stop you having to cancel matches.  3G pitch maintenance is also a lot less time-consuming and costly compared to maintaining a natural grass pitch.

Artificial pitches are a significant cost so the maintenance is essential to protect the pitch and make sure it lasts as long as possible.

Arguably the most important factor in 3G pitch maintenance, is to keep the turf upright. Doing this helps support the elements of natural play such as traction, ball movement, and it also prevents player injury. There are a number of things you can do to help achieve this, including:

Wearing the right footwear

Boots are a big factor when it comes to 3G pitch maintenance. Flat soled boots/shoes are typically a no-go. They increase the rate of infill compaction and flatten the pile of the carpet. 3G pitches are rigorously tested and manufactured to withstand extensive play and last as long as possible, if the correct footwear is used. We advise using only moulded or screw-in stud football boots.

Regular brushing

Relying on a twice-yearly 3G pitch maintenance service isn’t enough. Regular brushing will keep the synthetic fibres upright and protect the infill and stop it from compacting. We suggest brushing the pitch weekly. This can be done using a compact tractor with a triangle drag brush.

Infill top ups

Those small black rubber pieces spread throughout the pitch are there for many reasons, including supporting the fibres and keeping them upright. Overtime amounts of infill will end up leaving the pitch and will need replacing. If you keep an eye on the amounts of infill when you’re brushing the pitch and top it up when you see necessary.

Winter weather maintenance

Snow and ice are the only instances that could potentially stop you from using the pitch. Heavy snowfall can freeze the fibres and make them brittle, which would increase the chance of damage to the pitch and increase the risk of injuries for players. If there has been heavy snowfall you will need to wait for it to thaw out and allow the water to drain away. As with many things however, prevention is better than a cure – laying vacuum dried salts on the turf before snow or ice is predicted can help prevent freezing from happening at all.

The cost of 3G pitch maintenance

A 3G pitch should cost an average of £5,530 a year to maintain. Compared with the yearly £48,000 needed for a quality natural grass pitch, 3G pitches come out on top, again!

Get in touch today if you need support with 3G pitch maintenance.

3G pitch maintenance

3G sports pitch testing – FIFA guidelines

Guidelines and testing for third generation sports pitches

Third generation (3G) pitches are artificial sports pitches designed to mimic the look, characteristics and performance of real grass. 3G pitches are filled with both sand and rubber to keep the synthetic grass dense and upright.

FIFA’s guidelines are in place to ensure that all 3G pitches are designed, manufactured and installed with player safety at the forefront. The all-weather pitches allow players to play football in its traditional manner, all year round. Pitches are durable and resilient with a lifespan of around 10 years.

3G pitch testing

At McArdle Sport-tec, we work closely with our clients to make sure we stay focused on their needs and comply with FIFA’s 3G pitch guidelines. We work in partnership with Tiger Turf UK who comply with FIFA’s rigorous testing methods.

Sports pitches can be expected to withstand 40+ hours of play a week. 3G pitches must pass tests on a whole range of factors, including shock absorption and rotation resistance to prevent player injuries. There are 600 data points tested to determine the turf’s performance.

Take a look at the testing methods used.

3G pitch maintenance

3G pitches require a moderate level of care and maintenance in order to last the expected lifespan. There are a number of rules that should be put in place to safeguard the pitch’s quality, including what footwear should be used on the surface. Regular cleaning and attention should take place to ensure the synthetic grass is kept in good condition.

Having a well maintained 3G pitch will not only make it last longer and help prevent injuries. The pitches are designed to replicate every aspect of real grass, including ball/surface interaction. Making sure the synthetic fibres are kept in good condition will help make sure of this.

Sports pitches from McArdle

As specialists in sports pitch construction we ensure that all of our pitches are installed to comply with FIFA’s guidelines. We’ll carefully consider the best possible location on your site to minimise maintenance and prolong the lifespan of your pitch.

Find out more about our construction process.

all weather 3G sports pitch

Hockey Pitch Construction

Where to Begin

This guide has been designed to assist with answering initial questions we are often asked by clients when they first embark on their hockey pitch construction journey. 

-How much does artificial hockey pitch construction cost?
The cost of building a pitch can vary immensely. Do you require a simple resurfacing of an existing pitch with a new sand-dressed artificial turf, or brand new pitch to be constructed with drainage, sports fencing and a new floodlighting system?

Initially, the existing ground conditions will need to be assessed. If the soil is contaminated, this will need to be removed from site and replaced. The more material that needs to be removed and replaced with suitable base material, the more the overall project will cost. A basic sand-dressed pitch resurface with no lighting or fencing can start at around £150,000, and can be in excess of £1 million for a brand new International standard, water-based pitch with new fencing, team dug outs, LED floodlighting and state-of-the-art irrigation systems.

-What are the first steps in artificial hockey pitch construction?
One you have secured land for the build, you will need to speak with an artificial pitch contractor, or a consultant. They should be able to assist with planning considerations and applications, design options, ground surveys, product specifications and pricing. Should you require funding, England Hockey is a good place to start.

-What type of surface does my club need?
Most international tournaments are played on FIH Global standard water-based surfaces and league games are usually played on FIH National standard sand-dressed pitches. If your club doesn’t host international fixtures then a sand-dressed surface will more than likely be sufficient. Water-based and sand-dressed surfaces are becoming available in a range of colours. Types of hockey surface available.

Do I need to have a shock pad under the artificial turf surface?
Although the FIH doesn’t specifically state that a shock pad is required, the testing criteria make it necessary to pass either ‘Global’ or ‘National’ criteria.
The addition of a shock pad in hockey pitch construction will aid player comfort, as the impact on the knees and back is significantly reduced when a shock pad is present. The most commonly used types shock pad systems are; pre-formed roll out pads, and ‘in-situ’ shock pad. An in-situ pad is a combination of SBR rubber and PU Polyurethane binder which is mixed on-site and laid upon the tarmac pitch base.

-How long should an artificial hockey surface last?
Manufacturers will offer a guarantee for each product in their range, to give an example, TigerTurf UK Ltd’s most popular hockey surface Evo Pro is guaranteed for 12 years, or 30,000 playing hours (2017). Many of the UK manufacturers have similar product guarantee periods, either measured in playing hours, or years. It is vitally important that the surface is maintained to the manufacturers standards for the guarantee to remain valid, artificial turf pitches are not maintenance free.

-Can an artificial hockey pitch be used for other sports?
More and more artificial hockey pitches are becoming multi-sport facilities as hockey clubs and local councils look to maximise the number of hours that the surface can be used for, therefore increasing pitch hire revenue. Artificial turf surfaces can be used for multiple sports, many manufacturers have sand-dressed systems which can be used for 5-a-side football, hockey and tennis. Other sports suited to a sand-dressed surface include volleyball, lacrosse, touch rugby and athletics.

Hockey Pitch

Hockey and the Rio Olympics

The Rio Olympics Showcased Just How Great Water-Based Artificial Hockey Pitches Are

Following the success of Team GB Women’s hockey team, where they won gold at Rio, there has been much hype around the sport and types of artificial hockey pitches available. Both Olympic hockey pitches, and the training pitch in Rio were water-based, which created a stir on social media. Many people were questioning why the pitches were blue, and others asked why water was visible on the pitches when it hadn’t rained.

The London 2012 Olympic Games hosted the first world hockey event played on a different coloured surface to the traditional ‘field green;’ they were blue with pink run-offs. The colour doesn’t affect the game, it just makes it more fun! It has been suggested in the media that perhaps the blue and green pitch with white lines and a yellow ball were selected in Rio as they make up the colours of the national flag.

Elite level hockey is preferably played on a wet pitch, a water-based pitch does not have any sand infill. The water reduces friction, enabling the ball to roll faster and straighter than with other types of artificial hockey pitch surfaces. It also affects the players’ sliding, running and turning; stick-work including dribbling, hitting, pushing, dragging, flicking and scooping of the ball.

These factors allowing for a fast-passed, technical game. The layer of water in the surface needs to replenished before a match and during half time breaks, numerous water cannons and a complex irrigation and drainage system are installed within all water based artificial hockey pitches.

Prior to the Rio Olympics, an identical FIH water-based artificial hockey pitch was also constructed at Bisham Abbey (home to England Hockey).  This enabled the British hockey team to practise on the exact same surface as Rio. Perhaps this gave them an advantage, the girls performed outstandingly!

Since their return, the GB Ladies hockey team have attended an athletes’ parade in Manchester, followed by the heroes return in London. Many of the gold medal winning GB ladies’ team have also appeared on TV shows for interviews, and were even invited to Buckingham Palace for an audience with the royal family, which included Her Majesty The Queen and Price Harry.

Our website details the various types of artificial hockey pitches available.

water-based olympic hockey pitches

England Manager, Gareth Southgate opens Burton Albion’s new sports pitch

Pirelli Stadium’s new 3G Pitch opening

Football Foundation Ambassador and England Manager, Gareth Southgate, was invited to open the newly constructed TigerTurf and McArdle Sport Tec football pitch in Burton today. We sent one of our team to the Pirelli Stadium to attend the Football Foundation’s official opening ceremony.

Burton Albion Community Trust applied for a funding grant which was approved and granted by the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, and was delivered by the Football Foundation. McArdle Sport Tec, TigerTurf UK and Technical Surfaces were awarded the contract and worked together to design, build, manufacture and maintain a new artificial 3G football pitch for Burton Albion Community Trust. The pitch measures 97m x 61m and the scope of works included refurbishing the existing floodlighting system and installing new fencing and hardstandings. For the installation, TigerTurf manufactured the new artificial surface Atomic Pro 60, which conforms to the latest FIFA testing requirements. The carpet was laid upon a macadam pitch base.

The new pitch will allow BACT to gain extra revenue from hiring the pitches to local teams within the community, extending the hours of play to 50+ per week in comparison to a natural turf pitch, and the pitch can be utilised during the winter months. The income generated will greatly benefit the charity to extend its reach within the local community.

Scott Taylor, Football Development Officer at Burton Albion Community Trust commented: “The new TigerTurf pitch caters for people of all abilities and ages ranging from 5 to 90 years old who can benefit from a safe environment that meets the required standards. We’ve seen a large rise in the number of users, and this is set to increase over the coming months with more demand for pitch hiring during the daytime.

“We have projected an income of over £40,000 in usage between the months of September through to April as these are typically the most popular months for activities. This will provide a welcome boost to the trust’s income and can be used to further improve our ever-growing programme of activity.

“Another benefit of the quality surface provided is that it has allowed the caretaker to maintain the pitch with ease. Furthermore, we’ve benefitted from the adequate support on TigerTurf’s website which has helped maintain and improve the performance of the pitch, highlighting the most important processes.”

The Premier League & The Facilities Fund is delivered by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England. It is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity. Since it was launched in 2000, the Football Foundation has awarded around 15,000 grants worth more that £580m towards improving grassroots sports, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £800m – over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.

How your team can embark on the artificial 3G rugby pitch construction journey

The 3G artificial pitch construction process-

With the recent statement from the RFU suggesting they are looking to fund the construction of artificial 3G rugby pitches as part of their “AGP Programme”, and having installed one of the pilot pitches ourselves, we are increasingly being asked how the 3G artificial pitch construction process begins, and how clubs can apply to be part of the scheme.

When considering an artificial pitch, all aspects of the installation must be carefully considered. Not only do we need to provide you with the best quality turf and completed pitch, we need to ensure this is delivered on-time, within the club’s budget and to the highest customer service standard. In order to ensure we are able to offer the premium pitches we are renowned for, we will need to meet the main stakeholders so we can determine exactly what is required. There is no standard specification, all sites offer alternative challenges and conditions, drainage plans, logistics, specifications and budgets all differ.

A feasibility study begins with a free site visit to assess the potential site. Planning conditions are carefully considered and project designs are tailored to ensure individual conditions are adhered to. An extensive range of pitch options and specifications are discussed and a range of design options are presented to the club.

How can artificial 3G rugby pitch construction benefit your club?-

Artificial 3G rugby pitch construction provides clubs the opportunity to boost participation in the game. The main advantages include providing the opportunity for more playing hours, more training hours and a consistent surface which can be utilised throughout the year. As part of the RFU’s Rugby World Cup 2015 legacy promise of delivering over £50m investment over four years, they have pledged to develop 100 artificial grass pitches across England. Once all AGPs are built it is anticipated that grassroots rugby will see 16,000 new regular participants taking up the sport as a result of greater access to quality playing facilities across the country.

How can your club get on the list for potential funding for an artificial 3G rugby pitch?-

As far as we know there is no official application process for the RFU’s AGP strategy, should your club be looking to get on the RFU’s potential list you would need to speak with the RFU facilities manager in your area. A list of contacts and their details can be found here.

Artificial Rugby Pitch

Get Active in January

3G football pitch construction lets you train and play all year round

As Christmas becomes a distant memory, much of the nation will set and break their new year’s resolutions before January is over. Playing on a 3G football pitch can help you stick at being more active, enabling you to play and train all year.

As well as providing a pitch which can withstand more endurance, throughout the year, artificial pitches can generate an income for your club. FIFA have created new standards of testing to ensure 3G football pitch construction meets FIFA standards of play and quality assurance. McArdle Sport Tec install surfaces which meet FIFA ‘s Quality Programme for Football Turf.

Benefits from 3G football pitch construction for your club:

Third-generation pitches can be played on during the winter months – Meaning you won’t have to try to catch up on postponed matches. Some 3G surface systems are guaranteed for up to twenty-thousand playing hours. 3G pitches can withstand a much more intense schedule than natural turf pitches, they are ideal for hosting tournaments.

Income generation – 3G football pitch construction can not only improve your club’s facilities, but also generate money from hiring out the pitches to other local teams and schools. A 3G pitch can be split and hired in sections for training, full matches and even parties.

Superior durability – 3G pitches can be played on for many more hours each week without causing damage to the pitch area. 3G pitches can be played on throughout the day and evening and do not need time to rest and recover, unlike natural turf pitches.

Heavy maintenance to repair a damaged pitch surface is not required – A 3G pitch will require regular maintenance such as brushing, however won’t need mowing, fertilising, patching and regular line marking.

Controlled playing characteristics – FIFA standard 3G surfaces have been specially designed to mimic the characteristics of a natural turf pitch. 3G pitches hold the ball well giving players control over ball roll with complete freedom of movement.

Funding for 3G football pitch construction can be obtained from the Football Foundation & Sport England, should your club meet their requirements.

The FA’s Pilot Hubs in Sheffield

The 3G football pitch construction of 2 brand new pitches at Thorncliffe Recreation Ground

In 2014, The Football Association unveiled its plan to build more than 150 new “football hubs” at over 30 major UK city locations. In order to achieve this, the FA pledged to invest more than £230 million into 3G football pitch construction by creating new “football hubs”.

Sheffield was selected as the first city to benefit from the “football hubs” and with backing from Sheffield City Council, the new project was to become known as “Parklife”. The Parklife project would see more than £6.8 million invested in football in Sheffield over a few sites across the city.

Planning permission was granted for the first two sites in 2015, Greg Dyke, Chairman for the FA said, “This is excellent news for grassroots football in Sheffield and a significant step towards making our vision of creating publicly accessible football hubs across all major cities by 2020 a reality.” “Introducing city hubs is a key recommendation of the Chairman’s Commission as a means of protecting football facilities from a potential downward spiral of declining quality brought about by inevitable reductions in local authority funding as fiscal budgets are squeezed.”

Paul Billington, Director of Culture, Sport and Leisure at Sheffield City Council, also added “I’m really pleased that planning permission has been granted for the first of these new football facilities, which will significantly improve the quality of the grassroots football provision here in Sheffield,” he said. “As well as being a boost for those who already play football, this new partnership with The FA is expected to increase participation and, in the longer term, provide a financial saving to the council as more play is concentrated on fewer pitches.”

McArdle Sport Tec won a competitive tender for the 3G football pitch construction of the new pitches at the second site of the Sheffield’s Parklife Scheme, Thorncliffe Recreation Ground. The new football hub was to be built alongside the new £7 million North Active Leisure Centre and the project included the installation of two new, full size 3G pitches for football, each with specialist fencing and floodlighting, and two fully drained 11v11 natural grass pitches. It also included a changing room, coach education facility and social space.

The proposed third site in Sheffield is set to boast two full-sized 3G pitches and natural turf pitches, a fitness centre, changing rooms and an education facility. Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods at Sheffield City Council, said, “This partnership with the FA is a great thing for our city. I’m delighted to see this grassroots scheme moving forward with the announcement of the third football hub site, which will also create a fantastic new public health facility in the south east of Sheffield.” She added, “Football is Sheffield’s biggest team sport with over 800 teams, the majority of which are junior and youth teams. It is significant for sports participation, community activity and associated health benefits.”

Kelly Simmons, The FA’s director of participation and development, said: “The vision of building football hubs in up to 30 key cities and towns has begun and we applaud Sheffield for leading the way.”

McArdle Sport Tec believe that more 3G football pitch construction, and the creation of football hubs across the UK should have a positive impact on grassroots football as all-weather pitches provide much longer playing times and are not weather dependant.

Bala Town Football Club Invest in New 3G Pitch

Maes Tegid is ready for new 3G football pitch construction

On Monday 4th July 2016, McArdle Sport Tec commenced the construction of Welsh Premier League team, Bala Town FC’s new 3G football pitch. The 3G football pitch construction project involves removing the existing grass surface and replacing it with a brand new, state-of-the-art 3G surface. For this project McArdle’s will be installing TigerTurf’s Soccer Real 50mm carpet, a popular third-generation, all-weather surface which McArdle Sport Tec have previously installed at Cardiff Metropolitan University, Jenner Park Stadium for Welsh League Team Barry Town United FC, at Wolverhampton Wonderers FC training ground and Airbus UK Broughton FC.

The 3G football pitch construction process will take approximately 12 weeks and includes clearing the site and removing the natural turf surface, removing topsoil, installing a drainage system, laying the new synthetic surface, installing specialist sports fencing, team dug outs and testing the pitch to ensure it meets FIFA standards.

The project has been part-funded by Gwynedd Council, the Football Association of Wales and UEFA’s Hat Trick programme and has been co-ordinated by specialist sports pitch consultant Jonathan Smith of GEO Turf Consulting whom McArdle’s have worked closely with on previous projects.

The new 3G football pitch construction has created much excitement for the club, Chief Executive of Bala Town FC, Nigel Aykroyd said: “This is the culmination of over 2 years of hard work and dedication to arrive at this project commencement stage. It is a huge investment for the future of the younger generation of sporting participation in Bala and its surrounding areas. Bala Town must thank considerably the help we have received from all its partners in this project which has enabled this development to transform from a distant dream to actual reality.”

Ruth Crump, Club Secretary, “We have played on many artificial pitches over the last few seasons and are very impressed with the pitch conditions which can only improve playing standards for our team. The new pitch will be used primarily by our First team and our Academy teams ranging from seven years old up to nineteen years old. However, we are in the process of setting up a ladies’ team who will also have access to the facility along with our veterans. Bala Town will be employing a Community Officer who will set up a new league and also tournaments for both children and adults. The pitch will also be available for community use by local schools and colleges.”

McArdle Sport Tec Installing ‘Ecocept’ at Aberystwyth Town FC

After a competitive tender and interview process, 3G football pitch construction specialists, McArdle Sport Tec are delighted to have been awarded a contract by Welsh Premier League side Aberystwyth Town FC to install a state-of-the-art third-generation pitch at the club’s ground. McArdle Sport Tec offered the club a new and innovative sports surface base system by TigerTurf called TenCate Ecocept.

Ecocept is a one-of-a-kind base system which has been specifically developed for synthetic turf playing surfaces. The base is manufactured onsite using 80-90% recycled end-of-life waste plastics and rubber mixed with a binder to hold it together. The new base system meets both FIFA and World Rugby impact requirements so can be used for football and rugby surfaces. Using Ecocept reduces the need for a conventional thick layer of crushed stone, and the performance base drains rainwater laterally so that traditional drainage methods are not necessary.

The 3G football pitch construction project at Park Avenue Stadium will include removing the existing pitch surface and installing the specialist base system, installing kerbing the synthetic turf and specialist sports fencing. To see more about our 3G football pitch construction see our ‘how we do it page’. The work is due to be completed in time for Aberystwyth Town’s match against Bala Town on 11th October 2016. McArdle’s are also on-site at Bala Town FC constructing a 3G pitch at their home home ground Meas Tegid.

McArdle Sport Tec have previously installed an Ecocept pitch at Cheshunt FC at the end of 2015, the installation of Ecocept at the club in Hertfordshire has since gained recognition for TigerTurf for embracing new technology and leading the way for product design, having been named as a finalist in the SAPCA Awards 2016.  To read more about this innovative base-system, click here.


The Mayor of Woodley Visited One of Our Sites

We were very lucky to have been visited by the Mayor of Woodley, Councillor Dave Mills.

Woodley Town Council were awarded a grant to help their dream of installing a 3G pitch at Woodford Park Leisure Centre a reality. The £510,000 grant received from the Premier League and Football Association Facilities Fund covers 50% of the new pitch construction project. McArdle Sport Tec Ltd and TigerTurf (UK) Ltd were awarded the project after submitting a competitive tender for the work.

The project started in March 2016 and includes:

Installation of a 3G Artificial Grass Pitch which can be divided in to three smaller 5 a-side pitches for training. The pitch will have a secure enclosure complete with acoustic board fencing and floodlighting.

Resurfacing of 1 existing tennis court providing a brand new playing surface for Tennis and Netball. The remaining tennis courts, which are in poor condition, will be removed and the space used to create an additional 55 parking spaces for visitors to the Centre.

Resurfacing of the existing Leisure Centre car park.

The site was visited by the Mayor of Woodley, Councillor Dave Mills, once the site works had commenced.


With the recent flooding in the North of England causing devastation to family homes and businesses, Sports England have launched an Emergency Flood Relief Fund for local sport clubs and societies who have been affected by the extreme weather conditions.

The main aim of this particular fund is to safeguard community sports facilities by providing quick cleaning services to get business running as usual as soon as possible. In order to do this, Sports England are willing to invest up to £400,000.