Home » How to Cure Localised Dry Patch in Bowls Greens

How to Cure Localised Dry Patch in Bowls Greens

Create a healthy living green environment.

This question is an amalgamation of upwards of 50 similar search queries on the site this month.

Essentially what these readers are looking for is a cure for Localised Dry Patch.

As regular readers will know, using the word “cure” in Bowling Green Maintenance is an example of “Symptoms Thinking”

Most problems that occur on bowling greens are symptoms of more fundamental problems and Localised Dry Patch is a case in point.

This is a relatively recent addition to the list of difficulties greenkeepers have to deal with in maintaining bowling greens.

I won’t go into a long description of the problem as that is well documented on the site elsewhere (just click on the LDP tag on the right of the page to go to articles about Localised Dry Patch).

The main thing is to get away from thinking of LDP as something that can be cured; it isn’t a disease; the answer is to change your maintenance practices overall to make sure it doesn’t occur.

This means creating a healthy living soil environment by:

  1. Increasing air within the soil
  2. Minimising thatch
  3. Minimising compaction
  4. STOP using sand-top-dressings
  5. Increase microbial activity in the soil
    1. Firstly by doing 1-4 above
    2. Then helping to improve conditions through use of bio-fertilisers
  6. Use wetting agents in the meantime to help with soil re-wetting
  7. Keep the green surface open throughout the season by using a sarrell roller.

A complete explanation and detailed step by step guidance is included in Performance Bowling Greens, a practical guide


  1. Joe Scott says:

    I have a bowling Green in Portugal. When I took it over almost 5 years ago it was very soft & wet, so much that Groundsheet were used all year round. Core samples showed a 1-2 inch layer of wet dead matter (like chocolate fudge) 1-2 inches below the surface. I have hollow-tined every year and applied tots of sand. The Green has, in the opinion of many many visitors gone from possibly the worst in the Algarve to one of the best. BUT LDP every summer. I can usually contain by wetting agent, hand-watering etc but lots of work. Bearing in mind that all Greens in the Algarve (Golf & Bowls) are sand-based, any suggestions?

    • John says:

      Hi Joe

      All greens everywhere are now made of very high sand rootzones and they of course are inert as far as soil life is concerned so you will inevitably get a build up of un-decomposed thatch and problems with Localised Dry Patch.

      The answer is to encourage the build up of around 5 or 6% humus in the rootzone via the natural degradation of thatch by soil microbes.

      You can encourage this by using bio-liquid fertilisers instead of mineral salt based fertilisers and by applying bio-stimulants such as molasses and seaweed.

      Sand is never just sand and a particle size distribution analysis will reveal a percentage of silt and clay. These components are important for turf nutrition and moisture retention for plant growth.



  2. Mick Galloway says:

    Morning John. We have a problem with dry patch this year. I think part of the problem was that we couldn’t get on the green to scarify
    it sufficiently and spike it due to Covid 19. In the past four weeks we have been able to spike the green every other week and put on the
    wetting agent every four weeks but still the dry patch is getting worse so I would love some advise to get rid of the problem.
    I have noticed that you recommend that we should not use 70/30 top dressing. When we reseed the green at the end of the season what dressing do you recommend. Thank you for your patience.

    • John says:

      Hi Mick

      The answer to your question about top-dressing is dependent on the soil texture (percentages of sand, silt and clay) you have, but these are typically very heavily skewed towards sand on bowling greens that have been maintained conventionally.

      Scarifying in dry conditions will tend to make LDP worse, so it’s best to leave that out of your maintenance if you already have signs of LDP.

      Wetting agents aren’t a cure for LDP as they don’t tackle the root of the problem, although they are useful management tools in the meantime.

      If you have a recent soil analysis including readings for Organic Matter and soil texture that would be very useful. If you don’t then I can do that for you. Details here: Soil Chemical and Peak Sand Analysis



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