Home » Localised dry patch…again

Localised dry patch…again

Localised Dry Patch (LDP) continues to be the major difficulty in bowling green maintenance. We get a lot of our website visits from people looking for a solution to this issue.

There is also a lot of confusion out there about LDP; what it is, what causes it and how you get rid of it. There is also a lot of poor advice about dealing with LDP, some of which seems to show a complete lack of understanding of the problem and its causes.

So, although I’ve written a lot about this subject in my bowling  green maintenance advice over the years, here is a fresh recap in bullet point form that you can use to explain the problem to others and hopefully help them to understand the problem a bit better. This will also help you to gain support for your bowling green maintenance program:

Localised Dry Patch(LDP): What is it?

  • LDP is a turf “disorder” not a disease.
  • LDP manifests itself as large areas of browning turf which repel moisture
  • Under the turf the soil will be powder dry
  • The soil has become “hydrophobic”, it can’t take water on board
  • Grass cover will recede quickly
  • In autumn/winter these areas will be infested with moss

What causes LDP?

There are many contributing factors such as

  • Excessive use of sand in bowling green maintenance practices over the years
  • Excessive thatch layer
  • There is some evidence that a waxy coating appearing on soil particles makes them unable to attract water. This might have some relation to the Fairy Ring Fungus
  • The main causal factors are bad maintenance practices over many years mainly:
  • Excessive sand top-dressings
  • Poor thatch control
  • Inappropriate nutritional programs
  • Disjointed irrigation practices

What can be done about it?

There are two aspects to managing LDP; short term management and long term eradication.

It must be noted that because there is effectively no disease; there is also no rapid cure, the eradication process must be viewed as a course of treatment, a sea change in bowling green maintenance practices aimed at getting the green back into the condition it needs to be in to avoid problems in the future.

Short term management includes:

  • Using a Sarrell roller to keep the surface open during the playing season
  • Application of wetting agents regularly as advised by the manufacturer
  • Hand watering of affected areas regularly, ideally with added wetting agent
  • Revise your irrigation practices to ensure that enough water is applied to the affected areas

Long Term Eradication will include:

Changing your bowling green maintenance program to a natural maintenance regime which encourages a healthy, living soil and turf eco-system. To start this you should:

  • Reduce the thatch layer to an optimum 5mm in depth
  • Stop all sand top-dressing
  • Regular compaction control aeration
  • Regular aeration generally
  • Use of wetting agents in the autumn program also
  • Using less aggressive, natural liquid fertilisers and soil supplements
  • Use a water balance sheet to manage irrigation inputs
  • Communicate your plans to the club members to get maximum support for your actions.

Over the coming weeks I am sure we will be revisiting this again and again so stay tuned.

It would also be helpful to get your input on this so feel free to leave a comment here anytime

Materials to help with LDP


  1. keith mulligan says:


    thanks for sending me your your tips on greenkeeping as i live in tasmania our climate would have a lot of similarity to yours and i am finding your advice very helpful

    regards keith

  2. admin says:

    Thanks Keith

    Good to hear from you, maybe you could share some of your experiences from greenkeeping in Tasmania with us here?



  3. Robert says:

    John, having followed your above recommendations… when will areas previously affected by dry patch be ready for re-seeding? is there a test such as depth of thatch layer? or does the area now absorb water? for example

    • John says:

      The important thing is not to assume that LDP is cured, as it has a nasty habit of re-appearing year after year.
      However, if you take a soil/turf sample through the profile in a similar fashion to that shown hereSoil sample: the soil beneath should feel and look the same as it would in a sample from an un-affected (green)area, i.e. uniformly moist down through the profile. If it is at this stage, it should be ok to over-seed these areas and expect some level of success.
      Let us know how you get on with this and thanks for raising the question.

  4. davie says:

    Hi there , im wondering if using a lawnmix topsoil , ie a sandy loam instead of top dressing would allieviate the problem a little ?

    • John says:

      Hi Davie

      Good to hear from you.

      Yes I think your thinking is sound here, although I might be more inclined to use a peat free (or sustainable peat) based compost worked into hollow tine holes manually using a tru-lute or similar.

      have you tried this ?

      anybody else have experience of dealing with LDP this way?


  5. derek says:

    hi john , had a meeting about the state of our bowling greens ie [dry patch , thatch fungus , and fusarium] he said he was going to solid tine to depth of 4.5 inches. i asked about wetting agents, his response was they dont need it. very frustrating. no one seems to believe me when i point out these problems , when hollows keep appearing on both greens. where do i go from here,am at a loss. derek. i am just a bowler who has played these greens for 30 yrs.

    • John Quinn says:

      Hi Derek

      I don’t know what you can do about the human aspects of this problem, but it sounds like your green needs more than solid tining. To give the benefit of the doubt it could be that your greenkeeper is trying to apply a low disturbance program, but it’s not time for that yet by the sounds of things.

      I’ll send you an email with some suggestions



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