Touching Base: Which Base Is Which?

When installing a giant parasol, it is important to ensure that, in addition to the product itself withstanding strong winds, it needs to be fixed securely and correctly to the ground.

At Indigo, we recommend that wherever possible, the preferred method of installing giant parasols is into ground sleeves.

Ground Sleeves

Parasol Bases - Ground Sleeve Diagram

Commercial grade parasols can take enormous wind speeds and therefore need secure fixings. Ground sleeves offer the most stable form of installation: concreting them into the ground ensures that even the strongest winds will not uproot them, adding an extra layer of safety.

In addition to extra stability, fitting ground sleeves has a number of other desirable benefits not offered with other parasol bases. Ground sleeves are the tidiest form of base, taking up very little space under the parasol. View them like you’d view an iceberg; they are anchored underwater (or underground, in this case) and are therefore out of sight. This foundation leaves optimal floor space, offering the option to get creative with the extra room.

Should you choose to opt for a parasol with accessories such as heating or lighting, the cables can be hidden from view with ground sleeves. These cables are laid underground, through the foundation and are fed through the middle of the ground sleeve; this eliminates the chance of any trip hazards, all-the-while looking neat and tidy.

Parasol Bases - Malmaison

At Indigo, we recommend that the installation of ground sleeves is carried out by the customer’s own contractor; sourcing someone locally is far more cost-effective. After placing the order, ground sleeves are immediately dispatched to the customer. The lead time is generally four weeks, giving them plenty of time to get any concreting done and for the concrete to adequately cure (with the optimum cure time being 4-5 days).

This is an essential part of the process; curing strengthens concrete, decreases permeability and mitigates cracks. For giant parasols larger than 8 metres square or round, although not essential, we recommend using reinforcing mesh when concreting for added strength and security.


Movable Bases

Giant Parasol Bases - The Old Post OfficeConcreting ground sleeves isn’t always an option. Areas leased from private landlords or council-owned, conservation areas and those that are close to listed buildings are but a few sites that could create difficulty in gaining the planning permission to in set a ground sleeve. In such cases, we would use movable parasol bases.

Movable parasol bases are galvanised or powder-coated steel frames filled with concrete slabs. This provides the option to move the parasols; whether it be to switch the layout about or to put the parasols away altogether, the choice to move them is there. Castors can also be added to aid mobility.

Whilst this isn’t necessarily the most attractive option, the bases can be covered with a decking box or perhaps some well-placed furniture.

Parasol Base - Poseur Table - Rugby World CupIn the latter half of 2015, Indigo’s services were enlisted to install parasols to Fanzones across the country for the Rugby World Cup. We installed A4 Xtreme parasols to each Fanzone; however, due to the nature of the competition being short-lived, these could not be fitted into ground sleeves and required a different method of installation. Indigo tackled this problem by making special bases with up to 50 concrete slabs fitted to each, ensuring total stability and security. To cover these bases, metal Poseur tables were specially made and powder coated in white, ultimately doubling up as literature and merchandise tables (depicted left).

Despite the fact that the base was large and unsightly, the space was used effectively, enhancing the area and demonstrating that the base need not be ugly or a hindrance.

Whereby using ground sleeves to install parasols offers the option to run any accessory cables through the foundations of the parasol, movable bases do not. The addition of heaters and lighting will mean there will be cables; these might be unsightly and can present a possible trip hazard. This should be taken into account when deciding the placement of each parasol in an open space.

Base Plates

Parasol Bases - Base PlateThe third and final option for parasol installation is to use a base plate. These can only be used if there are solid foundations already in place. This would typically need to be an area about 4-5 metres squared, with the foundations measuring at a minimum of 15 centimetres deep.

There is no need to dig the area up: even if there is an existing ground sleeve, a 50 centimetre base plate can be bolted down to an existing foundation, to which a support tube is fitted over which the parasol is placed.


And there we have it: all you need to know to make a decision on how to choose your giant parasol bases. Whether it be a ground sleeve, a movable base or a base plate… May you choose wisely!

For all your outside coverage needs, look no further than Indigo Shading Ltd for commercial awnings and shading solutions. Call today on 01352 751889 or email