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Bowls green over-seeding rates

Leading on from my previous article on over-seeding and the new over-seeding fact sheet , I have received a few enquiries about over-seeding of bowling greens this week.

A common question is about over-seeding rates, or how much seed to use.

There is of course no right or wrong answer to this as the rate can be adjusted to suit conditions, required effect etc.

So in some circumstances it might be necessary to over-seed very heavily to ensure a thick enough sward on a bare area for example.

At other times when using a particularly specialist seed mix the rate might be very light indeed.

As a general guide if you are using a traditional 80% fescue and 20% bent grass mix, then I would normally recommend a rate of 15-20g/m2.

Over a typical green of around 1400m2 the lower end of this scale would use about 1 full commercial bag of seed.

If a more specialist all bent grass over-seeding mix was being used then the application would go down to about 8g/m2 to reflect the major difference in seed size and weight.

It’s always best to try to divide the application into two passes with the machine as this helps to avoid missed areas and gives a more uniform finish. This is all the more important when using all bent mixtures as you can’t actually see the seed once it’s been applied due to its size.

5 tips for getting this operation right are:

  1. Choose a high quality seed mix which utilises cultivars from near the top of the STRI turfgrass manual.
  2. Calibrate machinery accurately as even a small error in adjustment can waste a lot of expensive seed.
  3. Always apply seed into rather than onto the bowling green surface.
  4. Heavy sowings can encourage Damping Off disease so take care.
  5. Always apply seed in at least two passes in different directions.


  1. Paul Hunt says:

    John, what’s your thoughts on the dwalf rye. We have seen using it for several years now & the results have been very encouraging. We first used it round the edges of the green & now we have interegrated it into our autumn remove ration program.

    • John Quinn says:

      Hi Paul
      Good to hear from you.

      My main experience of using dwarf rye as a fine turf playing surface is a bit aged now.

      I built a USGA specification golf green with British Seed Houses Lex86 and maintained it in a fairly pure state at around 7mm…but that was in the 90’s and as an experiment with my students when I worked at Elmwood College…and it was a practice green I hasten to add!

      We further used it to overseed the aprons of our USGA golf greens on the course there in an effort to create competition and a barrier of sorts to ingress of annual meadow grass. This was less successful and probably a mistake if truth be told.

      Would be interesting to hear your experiences with this. If you have enough information, photos etc, I’d be happy for you to do a guest article for the site if you would like to?



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