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Problems with Bowls Greens

Yes there are, but they are actually few in number and most of them are symptoms of the big 2.

Fusarium, Localised Dry Patch, Thatch Fungus, Compaction, Spongy Surface, Slow Green, Bumpy Surface, Anthracnose Disease, Dollar Spot, Thatch, Slime, Algae, Fairy Ring, Moss, Leatherjackets, Poor grass growth, Annual Meadow Grass, Weeds, Pearlwort, Angry members, Excessive water costs, etc etc…blah blah blah.

I could go on for a long time with that list.

This is another composite question from the search results on the site this month. About 40 people so far have typed in something like “I’ve got problems on my bowling green”

As regulars know there are only 2 problems on bowling greens; thatch and compaction and everything else is simply a symptom of these two.

So the question should maybe be:

How do bowling greens succumb to thatch and compaction?

Answer: Inappropriate Maintenance Practices.

The Circle of Decline explains this fully.


  1. robert says:

    Hi, I appear to be developing what I suspect is ‘dollar spot’ (areas of a slimey cotton wool looking substance about the size of a ten pence piece) I am getting up early, to catch the dew and dew brushing (as you know this tends to be gone very early at this time of the year) and have applied a light N feed…. (this was suggested in a book…. again I hope this is correct) are these the correct measures to contain it? and are there any cheap treatments? as what chemical treatments I have seen are too expensive for my budget… Thanks.

  2. John says:

    this sounds like it might be a fusarium outbreak rather than dollar spot. chemical treatment shouldn’t be necessary at this time of year unless you are experiencing a sustained and extensive attack.
    The usual stress and fungus encouraging factors should be checked such as thatch, compaction, soil moisture levels (excessive), lush, soft growth and air flow around the surface (if this is restricted by dense shrubbery or trees around the green).

    If things are getting out of hand then chemical treatment can be undertaken with a fungicide containing iprodione. Its always best to restrict this to spot treatment of affected areas if possible.

    If you are still experiencing problems please feel free to send me a photo or tow for identification.


    John Quinn

  3. Graham Wood says:

    Hi John
    It’s been quite a while since I posted a comment, the control of thatch and compaction on our bowling green is a constant battle. We continue to followed your advice and slit the green in the closed season using our own machine. We don’t own a scarifier so have to hire in as required, usually the Camon make of machine. Hire Companies in our area don’t stock the Graden machine. The main problem I have is deciding how deep to go, usually only a light scarifying in spring and much heavier in autumn, however reading the operating instructions of Camon they don’t appear to recommend penetrating the ground surface. Is the removal of surface thatch sufficient to keep this problem under control, or are there any general rules of thumb.

    • admin says:

      Hi Graham

      Good to hear from you.

      The introduction of air to the rootzone is critical to boosting the microbial activity in the soil, which helps to reduce thatch naturally, so the more holes you can make throughout the year the better.
      Regarding depth for scarifying I had a quick look at the Camon machines online and I think these are aimed at the domestic lawn market primarily and probably not up the job required for bowling greens. The Graden will only be available through professional groundcare companies and is an Autumn only job anyway. Try to look for a secondhand or hire option on a SISIS Rotorake or similar as this will do a much better job.
      If you have thick thatch, it’s important to keep working on this throughout the season, by verti-cutting (light) twice a month if possible, Heavy scarification and hollow tining in autumn and pencil/solid tining whenever you can through the year. Deep slit tining in winter is also very important for compaction relief.
      Keep the questions coming and I’ll help as much as you need.



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