UltraBaseSystems® In Action

When It Rains It Drains

These photographs show the drainage capabilities of UltraBaseSystems® panels. You will see from these photographs just how quickly water is removed from the surface of the turf and flows directly through the panels either into the earth through the permeable geotextile fabric or under the panels and over the impermeable geotextile to the awaiting perimeter drainage systems. Often times it is a combination of the two, either way our system creates a scenario that allows play to continue promptly after a severe rain.

In this particular set of photographs a record setting rainstorm occurred in the Tampa Bay area for close to four hours, delivering over 6 inches or 152,4 mm of rain. This rain unfortunately occurred in the middle of our installation at Academy Prep Center causing a delay in seaming the turf but the crew took full advantage of a great opportunity to watch the water drain from the turf and the exposed panels. For close to four hours we witnessed the water dissipate rapidly through the turf and panels and flow into the earth or in the direction of the existing water collection system at the school.

Torrential Rains

The existing drainage ditch and retention pond were not adequate in size to remove the massive amount of water coming from all of the surrounding buildings, sidewalks and field, causing the collection areas to overflow temporarily. However, fifteen minutes after the torrential rain stopped all evidence of water on the field run off areas was gone and play could have easily continued.

All portions of the field that were slightly higher in elevation and had forced water to run towards this existing drain system remained dry throughout the entire rainstorm. Water flowed through the turf and panels, through the permeable geotextile and into the existing sub grade and/or rapidly moved under the panels towards the retention areas. This is exactly how the system is designed to work and proved itself spectacularly.

Test Areas

This second set of photographs is of an installation that was completed as a test area over three and half years ago also showing the same results during another torrential Florida rainstorm. All areas around this low lying test area became flooded but the UltraBaseSystems® panel base installation remained high and dry as evident in the photograph with the individual walking through the turf during this torrential rain.

Because this area surrounding the test plot was intentionally not graded perfectly we were able to show that water evacuates rapidly through the turf and panels, into the ground or out towards the existing landscape. The fact was the panels performed perfectly, but the existing ground was not prepared to receive all of the water that was deposited evenly over the entire area creating a flood situation surrounding the raised panel installation.

Despite standing water around the test plot, the area we created remained free of standing water during the entire downpour. As with traditional stone methods of construction, proper water management must be taken into consideration to properly redirect any overflow water to a collection area or be confident the existing solid can adequately accept the rain fall.


We would like to recount a quick story regarding the installation we did for the Tampa Bay Rays Major League Baseball team at the Port Charlotte Florida spring training facility. Several days after the installation we received a phone call from the head groundskeeper of the facility. The Tampa Bay area had experienced a large volume of rain over a continuous two day period which occurred at the very beginning of spring training. When the phone call came in we were concerned that the voice on the other end might have news about an installation problem at the field, after all why would we get a call after hours from a MLB team unless it was bad news, right? It was explained to us that much of the Tampa Bay Rays team was angry with us due to the fact that our field was the only field out of all those at the facility that was playable! The players were ordered by the coaching staff to remain at the complex and the entire squad practiced on the infield grass of our newly constructed UltraBaseSystems® field as it was the only dry spot in the house. As you can imagine, a sense of relief and pride was felt by all of us here knowing that our panel system performed exactly the way it was engineered and allowed for the continuation of practice when it would have been necessary to cancel training had our system not been used.

Drainage Flow Data

Complete listing of drainage tests are available at www.UltraBaseSystems.com in PDF downloads, brief descriptions of the results are as follows:

Panels installed without turf will drain vertically through the panel at a rate of over 350 in / 8890 mm (!) per hour.

Panels installed with a two and one quarter inch tall turf and filled with over 6 lbs/2,72 kg of sand and rubber will drain at rate of over 175 in/4445 mm per hour.

A sophisticated simulation model developed for UBS at the University of Tennessee’s Engineering Department conclusively showed that when a 10,000 ft²/929 m2 area of panels was installed on perfectly flat terrain and installed on impermeable geotextile fabric, rain fall, calculated at a rate of 10 gallons per sq yard per hour/37.85 L per 0,84 sq meter per hour, ran through the turf and panels and vertically evacuated from under the panels so rapidly that at the edge of this 10,000 ft²/929 m2 test zone only 1/10 in / 2,54 mm of water was evident in some locations. The conclusion of Dr. Louie Elliott was that it is next to impossible to keep water under the panels if proper perimeter drainage is designed. This test was performed on impermeable fabric and would further be improved if a permeable fabric was chosen allowing a percentage of water to percolate into the ground making perimeter evacuation volumes less.

Each UltraBaseSystems® panel also has the capability of temporarily storing more than 3 1/2 gallons/13.25 liters of water under each panel during this evacuation process. If ever needed this storage capacity will allow the water to be temporarily stored as the water is evacuating from under the panels and/or percolating into the earth.

The design of the panels also allows for water to be directed slightly more aggressively in one direction or the other if it is so desired. This is achieved by the design pattern in the inner cells. Although this difference of flow rate is very minimal it can work to the engineer’s advantage if trying to force more water toward a particular drain location or evacuation route. However a random design pattern of panel orientation will evacuate nearly as rapidly in all directions, but this design feature is one that may be useful for some installations but certainly not required.

The practical experience acquired, coupled with the scientific testing data that has been performed, conclusively shows that our patented system is by far one of the finest drainage systems ever brought to the synthetic turf market. Coupled with our ease of installation, superior underfoot structural feel and improved playability, squarely places UltraBaseSystems in a league of its own. These are the facts as generated by no less than five independent testing labs and available for you to review online at www.ultrabasesystems.com.