From the very beginnings of the game of bowls, most clubs bowled on a green constructed largely of local top soil, built, prepared and seeded by the club members, perhaps with the help of a local gardener or farmer. Maintenance was largely mowing, turning the rinks on flat greens, keeping the surface clear of debris and worm casts and an occasional roll before a big match. In the autumn, a squad of members would descend on the green with forks to aerate or spike the green, before putting it to bed for the winter with a final cut and perhaps a bag of fertiliser.
The circle of decline describes a situation that many greens fall into after years if not decades of conventional greenkeeping. Breaking into the Circle of Decline is an urgent requirement for many UK bowling clubs. Let me explain...
At its most basic, the answer is that excessive use of sand on bowling greens causes the under lying soil to become inert; lacking life or the complex web of interactions that go to make healthy, high performance turf. The natural balance of the soil/turf ecosystem is upset and the green will never be capable of consistent high performance for as long as the folly of top dressing is allowed to continue.
I genuinely believe that it's possible to come up with a formula to fix your bowling green, regardless of it's current condition. This is due to one over-riding fact that I've discovered after looking at literally hundreds of greens. They are all at some stage of what I've termed the Circle of Decline. The critical factor in making this possible is simple. You must know what you are dealing with and there is no way to find that out without carrying out some hand dirtying investigative work. So let's get dirty!
Last time, I introduced the subject of Disturbance in bowling green ecology and maintenance. I finished by posing the question; How can we use disturbance theory to our advantage in our quest to create a Performance Bowling Green? To answer that, let’s look at what might constitute Disturbance in the average bowling green. As greenkeepers we …
Localised Dry Patch typically rears its ugly head in June in the UK, but by then it is way too late to do anything about it. Once your green is displaying the large brown patches of desiccated grass and powder dry soil beneath, no amount of watering or wetting agent will bring it back fully this year. Now is the time to inspect your green and deal with it permanently.
The Sweet Spot in greenkeeping is when your green's Physical, Chemical and Biological components come into line to deliver results you couldn't previously have imagined were possible. Hitting that sweet spot is a lot simpler than you might imagine too, as focus on the soil's biology will naturally correct some of the worst Chemical problems and compensate for some of the worst Physical ones. There should be no problem "selling" this idea to your club either as first of all it saves money and secondly it massively improves green performance and consistency.
Cure Localised Dry Patch on Greens with this step by step guide to dealing with hydrophobic soil in bowls greens.
Essential Greenkeeping tasks for April include Scarification, moss control, microbe boosting, disease prevention and keeping the surface clear of worm casts. Now is the time to make soil nutrient balance corrections and to get some starter fertiliser and bio-stimulants on to boost soil microbial activity and get the grass growing well. Take advantage of my soil analysis service for a positive start to the season with a done for you greenkeeping schedule.
One of the easiest, cheapest and effective methods of killing moss in turf is to apply Ferrous Sulphate. Therefore, on Bowls Central, I could sell many tonnes of Ferrous Sulphate at a nice profit margin every year by simply pandering to conventional thinking, but you won't find any for sale here. Let me explain why: