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Autumn and winter bowls green maintenance

We are getting an increasing number of enquiries about the correct process for Autumn bowling green maintenance at the moment.

Here are my top 10 tips for autumn maintenance:

  2. Remove as much thatch as possible.
  3. Create air space in the top 100mm of the green
  4. Relieve Compaction
  5. Treat LDP by applying wetting agent
  6. Renovate heads to ensure recovery for next year
  7. Improve CEC on overly sandy soils by introducing zeolite
  8. Boost potassium levels
  9. If over-seeding, also give some Phosphorous
  10. Draw up a program of work to carry on right through the winter months. Don’t “put your green to bed”


  1. john preece says:

    John, we have just discovered procumbant pearlwort growing inour bowling green, have you any ideas of how we can get rid of it as it is becoming a serious problem and spoiling the look of our lovely green. HELP ! please. jjp worfield bowling club bridgnorth shropshire

    • John says:

      Hi John
      Pearlwort will tend to occupy any little spaces in the turf, especially if there is excessive moisture and the turf is weakened.

      This is usually related to thatch being too thick or dense and general lack of density and vigour in the sward.

      As such, Pearlwort is usually just a symptom of these other issues. Chemical treatment is available, but this should only be carried out in the main growing season and is of course only dealing with the symptoms and not the root cause.

      Please use the search box at the top right of the page to find articles on thatch, compaction and the circle of decline.

      You can make good progress on these issues now and throughout the coming winter months.

      Keep working towards a healthy, living soil/turf relationship and you will find that problems like pearlwort crop up less often.

      The weed will probably remain for the winter, but will find it increasingly unpleasant if you follow a regime like the Performance Greens Program.

      Any remaining weed presence can be dealt with chemically (by spot treatment) in the early summer next year.

      Let us know how this goes and if there are any other issues, just drop me a line

      • john preece says:

        john, we treated the green with a broad leaved weed killer, late october to good effect, the pearlwort and any other annual weeds present haved died and the turf appears to be recovering,thankyou for your reply,I await now to see what happens in the spring. JP

  2. John says:

    Hi Geoff
    Thanks for using the site.

    I wouldn’t normally recommend the use of lime on turf, although it can come in handy in some very particular circumstances.

    Blanket applications do run the risk of encouraging significant disease outbreaks.

    Can you let me know a bit more about the problems you are experiencing and I will try to advise further?


    John Quinn

  3. robert says:

    A factsheet about controlling Moss on the greens would be very useful. How often during the winter months should we apply iron? and how (and also how often?) should we try to remove the blackened moss? I am trying to do as much aeration as possible but because of a high fence blocking out the sunlight until late morning one area of the green is always inviting moss…. any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.

  4. John says:

    Hi Robert
    I missed this one sorry.

    Iron application is really a matter of choice but I wouldn’t apply it more regularly than every 6 weeks if using Sulphate of Iron. If using one of the other iron product labelled as mosskillers then manufacturers recommendations should be followed.

    Its probably best to leave the raking out until spring when there is some active growth in the grass or you will tend to leave spaces which will inevitably be filled with …more moss!

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