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Irrigation for Bowls Greens

Further to my previous post a lot of clubs have been in touch recently to ask for advice about irrigation systems; mainly about the cost of installing them.

Readers of my ebook Performance Bowling Greens a practical guide will know that I am not a big fan of the industry accepted standard for bowling green watering systems. They simply don’t work well enough.

Where standard irrigation systems are struggling to apply enough water to help with fending off LDP or indeed to apply sufficient water as part of an LDP curative program then I usually recommend reverting to hand watering for at least some of the time.

So if your club is starting from scratch and doesn’t currently have an irrigation system installed I recommend that you start by funding a large holding tank; the bigger the better; a good quality pump and 50metres of ¾” professional hose.

You could add a snap fit (professional) sprinkler for ease, but it’s much better to use this arrangement to simply hand water the green. It’s a bit time consuming but it does a much more effective job than automatic systems.

Recommended tank size for automatic irrigation (on a single bowling green) allowing typically 3-4 minutes per sprinkler would be in the region of 3,500 litres

Pump duty for a single phase supply would be 130 litres per minute at 60 metres head (around 85 psi).

However, If costs are still a limitation, for hand watering, I would recommend purchasing a tank with a capacity suitable for future automatic use and a budget pump from somewhere like Machine Mart as a suitable stop gap. They have a range of small domestic pumps with a 3 pin plug which will easily cope with a ¾” hose.

If the tank size is reduced, the limiting factor on amount of application will be the available in fill of water to the storage tank.

As always if you have any questions or comments please feel free to get in touch


  1. Roger Parker says:

    We are Egham Bowls Green, and have a sprinkler system in place with a sprinkler on all four sides of our green, I believe it requires servicing. What would the cost be?

    Roger Parker

  2. Roger Parker says:

    Hello John,

    I am from Egham Bowls Club, and our irrigation system need servicing! It is not watering far enough with all sprinklers.

    I am pretty sure you have attended our Egham Bowls system before.

    Roger Parker

  3. Kevin Tester says:

    Dear John
    I have recently joined Tarring Priory Bowls Club in Worthing, Sussex, in 2018 our green was one of the worst in the county it was an extremely dry summer and the watering by sprinkler system was having little effect, in 2019 we set up a rota system with members using 3 sprinklers moving them across a 40-meter square green, 9.5m spacing between rows ( 3 rows 40 minutes each row) then we spent 1-hour hand spraying with a 3/4inch hose pipe with fine spray nozzle around the edges = 3hrs in all. The above was done and was successful we curtailed the watering if it had just been raining, we are not that crazy, common sense prevailed. We are now looking for a less time-consuming method of watering the green and as cost-effective as possible, the council are starting to charge us for the water consumption so we are having to balance watering at 6am and 2am automtic spraying to avoid water evaporting in the sun,. What do you recommend?

    • John says:

      Hi Kevin

      There are of course automatic systems you could look into having installed, but perhaps better for now would be to get a better picture of your soil condition and how you might retain more moisture in the soil in times like this.

      If you have a recent soil analysis, including soil texture (%sand, silt, clay) I would be happy to look over tis for you and give you some pointers.



  4. The tank on our irrigation system has a leak-the tank is cast iron and difficult to move.
    Is there a way a new tank can be installed and connected to the existing pipework

    • John says:

      Hi Margaret

      If the pipework is in good condition then it probably can, but you’d need to speak to a local irrigation installer to be sure.



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