Home » Deal with thatch and compaction Now

Deal with thatch and compaction Now

Regular readers of my articles will know my views on bowling green maintenance problems; essentially there are only 2 that you have to worry about.

Everything else that goes wrong with greens is a symptom of these big 2 issues or indeed a symptom of the commonly held views on how to tackle the big 2.

What are the big 2?:

  1. Thatch: the build up of dead shoots, roots and debris on the turf surface that can get out of hand very quickly and cause or contribute to a huge number of problems. See my article on the circle of decline here
  2. Compaction: the squeezing of air out of the soil profile by foot and maintenance traffic.

Why I am banging on about this again?

Well hopefully your autumn and winter program is fully geared up to dealing with these two big issues.

By now I hope you have undertaken any major thatch removal work required and that you are now embarking on “an all winter long” attack on compaction.

Regular deep slit tining is the best way to relieve compaction; please note this is not a one off job regardless of how impressive the machine used.

It is necessary to continually slit tine the green through the winter to a depth of 150mm or deeper if you can.

Once a week isn’t too much, twice a month is more typical; stop during frost or excessively wet conditions but pick it up again as soon as possible afterwards.

For a full appraisal of essential winter maintenance tasks for your bowling green the Autumn/Winter report is still available at half price:

Autumn and Winter Bowling Green Maintenance Guide
Autumn and Winter Bowling Green Maintenance Guide
The ultimate guide to Autumn Renovation and Winter Bowling Green Maintenance detailing the essential maintenance your bowling green needs through this most critical of maintenance seasons. What you do now will determine how the green performs next season. INSTANT DOWNLOAD ebook more details
Price: £9.97


  1. Graham Wood says:

    When our greenkeeper resigned 3 years ago mid season I together with another bowler volunteered to cut the green until the season ended, and were subsequently ,offered the job working as a team. Despite having no experience a one day course at myerscough college gave us some insite into the basics. Like you they preached scarifying and airation. So for the last two years we have resisted temptation to hollow tine and top dress. We have a slit tine machine which was not previously available , but we finally convinced our club to have the machine repaired at considerable expence. We double scarified the green early in October followed by a light overseed. Next week weather permitting we are going to slit tine. Can you advise ,is it necessary to apply any top dressing afterwards, and do you alternate the direction of slit tining as with scarifying.

    • admin says:

      Hi Graham

      Thanks for your comment/question

      There is no need to apply any top-dressing after slit tining. If your machine has a roller fitted then there is nothing other than the slit tining to do.

      If your machine doesn’t have a roller fitted it might be a good idea to give the green a light going over with the mower afterwards just to roll down any tails left by the slit tiner.

      There are two schools of thought on whether you should or shouldn’t vary direction of pass with each subsequent operation; to me it doesn’t matter, as long as you are doing it often and avoiding going on when it is excessively wet or frosty.

      You can also do more than one pass each time if you are feeling energetic; if you are doing this I would go in different directions.

      Let us know how it goes.



      • graham wood says:

        Completed our first slit tining last Sunday, two directions second at 45 degrees to first. No rear roller on our machine; see what you mean about tails. Our machine only goes 100mm deep but we hope to undertake tining as often as weather will permit over the closed season.
        Many thanks for your help and advice.

        • admin says:

          Sounds like you are making good progress Graham. Keep up the good work and don’t hesitate to contact me if you require any help. John

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