Done for you greenkeeping schedules. Instead of relying on guesswork, hearsay and myth, wise clubs are putting their faith in science and proven agronomic expertise to help them draw up the correct greenkeeping schedule for their greens. In this article we explain how you can easily tap into John's Master Greenkeeper expertise and have a "done for you' greenkeeping schedule for your green.
Its time again for clubs to be thinking about the end of season maintenance program and many of these programs will follow “tradition” and will include the application of several tonnes of high sand content top-dressing.
However, one of the most prevalent problems on bowling greens in the UK is that of Localised Dry Patch LDP a condition that causes soil to become hydrophobic (water repellent) and which is undoubtedly related to excessive sand content in rootzone
The autumn renovation program is the only real chance clubs have to start to make inroads into the major problems with their greens and the only time when it is possible to make large corrections to thatch and compaction; and you’ve guessed it, thatch is another major problem associated with LDP.
Localised Dry Patch creates large dry areas on greens where grass dies back and the surface is disrupted. All attempts to re-wet these areas by watering the green are doomed to failure due to the water repellent nature of the underlying soil.
The application of yet more sandy top-dressing is not going to make this better; indeed it will in most cases make the problem worse next year.
It would be more beneficial to start the process of recovery by following a program that includes thatch reduction, wetting agent application and overseeding. All autumn programs should include the application of a granular fertiliser to correct any underlying deficiencies, usually a low N and high K product.
Where moss is a problem; and with LDP it usually is, you should use a proprietary moss-killer or lawn sand between 2 and 4 weeks before thatch removal work.
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Where grass grows on soil of any type the health of the turf/soil eco-system can be assessed by looking at the thatch layer.
On grass areas where there is little or no human interference in the form of excessive compaction, fertiliser, pesticides and mechanical work (other than mowing) such as in meadows or parks the thatch layer will almost always be at the optimum level for a continued healthy turf/soil eco-system. This is due to the soil/plant relationship being in balance; a strong and sufficiently lively soil microbe population releases nutrition from the thatch layer as it decomposes naturally.
As we move to areas that are subjected to progressively higher maintenance and wear activity, the thatch layer is susceptible to becoming thicker and denser and therefore needs more intensive management if the turf/soil relationship is to be kept in balance.
This can be observed by taking samples from a variety of grassed areas and comparing them to your bowling green’s thatch layer; rough meadows and areas such as the roughs on golf courses being the most natural and healthy areas and greens usually being the least healthy and in need of the most remedial work to keep them right.
When turf is used for bowling or other activities, the soil becomes compacted which is literally the expulsion of air from the soil. This throws the natural balance in the turf/soil relationship and makes it necessary for us to intervene to correct things.It is important to remember that thatch is always being produced and the more vigorous and intensively used and managed the turf is the faster it produces thatch. The desireable fine bent grasses and the common weed-grass, annual meadowgrass are prolific thatch producers.
If we don’t do the right things to correct this effect or indeed if we don’t do them often enough the green can very quickly fall into the circle of decline we looked at in an earlier article.
Thanks to everyone who downloaded the free winter maintenance report at the start of the winter.
Now here we are approaching the Christmas holidays and I don’t think many of you will have been able to implement much of the work that I recommend both in the Winter Maintenance Guide and in Performance Bowling Greens, a practical guide.
This is of course due to it being too wintry!
Well the good news is that if you made even a start to the recommended autumn/ winter compaction relief work by getting one or maybe two passes made with the deep slit tiner, then the frost will be doing a lot of good by getting into the soil and heaving it into fissures in the compacted zone.
However, the bad news is two-fold:
- it is going to prove difficult to do any work on greens throughout most of the UK this winter due to excessive frost and snow cover on greens; The winter program is essential and if your particular corner of the nation is free of frost and snow you should bash on with the winter work as much as you possibly can.
- The worst effect of this excessive cold weather is that the soil temperature is being forced down to levels that we don’t usually have to put up with very often.
This second point is very important and will become increasingly so in the months and years to come.
What’s the problem?
Well, my old Mum has a saying: “We’ve never died a winter yet”, which of course means that we are resilient and can adapt our approach to life to cope with whatever it throws at us.
Is it time to apply this thinking to our bowling greens; do they need further protection from the winter than we currently afford them?
Although I am not advocating a panic buying type situation I do think it is time for us to look at Read more
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:
- Increasing air within the soil
- Minimising thatch
- Minimising compaction
- STOP using sand-top-dressings
- Increase microbial activity in the soil
- Firstly by doing 1-4 above
- Then helping to improve conditions through use of bio-fertilisers
- Use wetting agents in the meantime to help with soil re-wetting
- 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
A few readers have asked for guidance on what work they should be carrying out on the green on a month to month basis.
Now of course conditions across the UK are widely varied at the moment; some areas in the south are free from frost, whilst here in Perthshire we can have very hard ground and many days of minus temperatures, in the southern parts of the country things can be and often are a lot milder.
When there is frost or snow cover its simply a waiting game; it really is best not to try to remove snow or ice from the green for two reasons:
- the damage that could be caused to the turf and soil by actually doing this work.
- the snow is affording the turf some protection from the worst of the cold weather; see my article on winter green protection here.
However, after the snow has gone and you start to see a prolonged period of thaw there are a few things you need to look out for as follows: Read more
Sounds unlikely doesn’t it?
The fact is that many clubs could save between £750 and £1000 in the coming month and would actively be improving their green. You know by now what I am talking about if you are regular reader.
Incidentally, welcome to all of our new readers this month!
On most greens the addition of any more sand based top-dressing is actually harmful. This doesn’t necessarily apply to all greens, just most of them.
Leaving this out of the program will result in big savings in the region of those mentioned above.
Next, a prevalent practice used in our industry Read more
First it was a double dip and now it seems that the UK is on for a Triple Dip recession! With all this doom and gloom around, its no wonder that many bowling clubs are like rabbits caught in the headlights.
It seems like there is nothing we can do to ensure the survival of our bowling clubs never mind actually increasing revenue and building a successful, thriving club for the future.
Well, its easy to get caught up in the misery of it all, especially when you look out of the window and see grey skies and rain. Then the news comes on and its all flood warnings and danger triangles! Long summer evenings on the green seem like a universe away!
However, this is exactly the time when you have time on your hands to get your bowling club set up for a bright future.
Ignore the news and just take these 5 easy steps to turning your club around for the long term. I’ve written a new report detailing the 5 most important steps you Must take now to make sure your club is one of the lucky ones. There’s actually no luck involved, its just a matter of employing the right actions at the right time to set your club up for future success that many dismiss as impossible.
With the continued contraction of overall membership of bowling clubs, it is clear that the clubs most likely to survive and turnaround their fortunes are the ones that have a clear strategy for membership growth and retention.
Growing bowling club membership is a big topic because it doesn’t just include getting more people in to bowl at your club as we might always have imagined. It is now vital that we not only have a clear picture of what a “member” looks like but also that we are very open minded as to what this could or should include. In Bowling Club Survival and Turnaround, I have clearly defined what I think the bowling club of the near future will look like and I go on to define what a member might be.
Anyway, back to retaining the members you already have and first a look at new members and the skill of engendering a feeling of belonging to your club. If a new member doesn’t feel that they belong to your club they will quickly leave and another subscription is lost. Building that feeling is, like it or not, the job of Read more