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Over-seeding Fact and Fiction

Another very popular subject on this site is over-seeding of greens in Autumn.

Over-seeding is commonly carried out as part of the autumn bowling green maintenance and renovation program and is very often a disappointment.

You would expect this work to quickly fill in the bare patches and spaces in the sward left by  disease, localised dry patch and a host of other green problems, but this is very often not the case…why?

The answer to most disappointing results from over-seeding is “competition”. Competition from the mature, indigenous grasses whether fine or weed grasses like annual meadow grass usually reduces the success or survival rate from over-seeding to a very small percentage.

This quite often comes as a surprise to greenkeepers who have observed a very good “take” shortly after seeding (7-14 days). At this early stage it is not uncommon to see vigorous lines of dense new seedlings bursting forth from the green. This however, is usually a false reading.

At this very Read more

Watering Bowls Greens-the least you need to know

irrigation management is critical but straight forward

The recent hot and dry weather has seen the UK experience forest fires for the first time in a lot of years.

It’s a hot dry spring, just the thing to get the bowlers out and active early in the season.

But, of course with this comes a problem. How do you get a green that has just come through one of the most prolonged and cold winters on record to perform well when the underlying soil is powder dry?

Performance turf requires heat and moisture and it is inevitable that you will have to turn to your irrigation system at this time to keep your green’s progress moving forward. Failure to keep up now could result in a disastrous season later on when the green dries out unevenly, succumbs to Localised Dry patch or simply doesn’t perform due to a lack of moisture early in the season.

Over the last week or so we have been inundated with readers asking for advice on the correct irrigation of bowling greens.

There are 2 key pieces of information you need to know before you can hope to keep up with the irrigation requirements of your green:

  1. How much moisture (in mm) is being lost from the green each day due to evaporation from the soil and transpiration from the grass plants? The combined effect of this is, strangely enough called Evapo-transpiration or ET
  2. How much water (in mm) does your irrigation system apply for each minute of run time?

Armed with these two pieces of information you can water your green confidently without over or under doing it.

So what are the answers to these questions?

There is a detailed article on this here.

But you’ve come here for a cheat sheet haven’t you?

For a very large proportion of bowling greens the answers are as follows:

  1. Around 25mm per week.
  2. Approximately 0.5mm per minute of run time; i.e. 1mm requires 2 minutes of run time.

These answers are based on averages; so if you are suffering blisteringly dry heat the first answer could easily be higher. If you have anything other than a standard specification, 4 pop-up sprinkler system from one of the main manufacturers such as Toro, Hunter, Rainbird etc the second answer could be a lot different, particularly if you are using a hose.

Getting irrigation right is essential to achieving a consistently high performance bowling green.

For more detailed information on the problems associated with this issue have a look at these articles.

For more in depth information on calculating your irrigation requirements and inputs have a look here.

As always any questions or comments please feel free to contribute.

a lot of hot air?

Air is a very important component of a Performance Bowling Green.

50% of a healthy, performance green will be air; 25% Micro-pores and 25% Macro-pores.

The Macro Pore or “aeration” space is where drainage happens.

The Micro-Pore or “capillary” space is where grass plant roots get their water and nutrients.

Tip the balance in favour of one or the other of these and things start to go wrong.

Compaction reduces the Macro air space in soil and inhibits drainage and root penetration. The soil now holds on to too much moisture and a whole raft of other problems ensue; particularly the build up of excessive thatch due to the anaerobic (lacking in oxygen) soil conditions brought about by the reduction in air space.

Thatch becomes a breeding ground for fungal disease and a base for Localised Dry Patch to take hold. The thatch doesn’t break down naturally as it should because there is a massive reduction in the population of aerobic soil microbes and they usually do this job.

Tip the balance the other way by applying excessive amounts of sand top-dressing and there is now too much air space, there is very little capillary space and the green starts to dry out too quickly. Localised Dry Patch now takes over, the surface is unpredictable and the soil can’t provide the nutrition the plants need naturally any more.

Yes, for a healthy living green that performs to order you need a lot of space; 50% air space.

Luckily, a healthy living soil knows how to do all of this without us.

We are only needed to help rectify the damage we inflict, which is mainly compaction and nutrient depletion through the removal of grass clippings.

Ahh! how simple!

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

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.

Why do greenkeepers spike a bowls green?

We spike to alleviate compaction and introduce more air into the soil.

Ok, our first web search term question. I’ll try to follow this format for all questions, i.e. the question will be the title of the post, there will be a concise, one sentence answer in block quotes for those in a hurry and then we’ll look a bit more in-depth for those who want more detail.

Comments of course will be welcome as always, so feel free to ask questions, or throw in your contribution.

OK, so the first one is a common one:

First of all let’s explain what the term “spike” means.

Spiking is a generic term used to describe Read more

Bowling Club Turnaround- the 5 Actions you MUST Take now! FREE REPORT

Bowls TurnaroundFirst 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.

Download your FREE report NOW!

Bowls Club Membership – retention and growth released!

Membership CoverJohn’s new eBook Bowling Club Membership – retention and growth is now available for purchase here.

In this ground-breaking ebook John focusses solely on membership issues, detailing a comprehensive plan for growing your club’s membership and retaining a healthy membership level for the long term.

In this eBook John looks more closely at the subject that he first raised in Bowling Club Survival and Turnaround and this book can be regarded as a partner volume to the previous eBook, as it digs deeper into the vital area of getting people through the door of your club and keeping them coming back for more, over the long term.

Right now, this is the definitive guide on re-building your club’s membership base and building a successful club for the future.

Inside your copy of Bowling Club Membership – retention and growth, you’ll discover:

  1. How to build member loyalty and how to install systems to perpetuate this.
  2. How to re-think the role your club plays in the local community and a new way to think about what constitutes a “member”.
  3. A remarkable chapter detailing a powerful method of finding new members for your club that uses tools you have at your fingertips  (and it isn’t the internet or anything computerised!)
  4. An amazingly simple but powerful formula that will ensure your club stands head and shoulders above all of your competition when it comes to excellent service.
  5.  How to build an automatic club improvement system.

So as you can see, Bowling Club Membership – retention and growth, is set to be a very important resource for Bowling Clubs everywhere, but what we’ve told you so far really is just scratching the surface. The book is also packed with actual tools you can use to achieve the remarkable changes previously outlined.

 

Bowls Green Maintenance Basics-Green Speed

There are some less than obvious essentials required to achieve consistently agreeable Green Speed

The great debate about green speed has raged on since the beginning of the game. But what are the factors known to affect green speed?

In order of their impact on green speed these are the top 7 factors that you should bear in mind. Obviously there are others such as weather patterns, level of play etc, but these are largely out of the greenkeepers control and in any case do not figure highly in green speed management.

Thatch Layer Control and Management; this means knowing the thatch levels on your green and having a feel for how quickly thatch builds up at each point in the year.

Typically thatch will be much quicker to build up in the main growing season and it can easily take greenkeepers by surprise if they don’t keep a watchful eye on the situation.

Reducing a troublesome thatch layer significantly is a job best left for the autumn when severe measures can more safely be taken, but following the Performance Greens program will ensure that you are minimising the occurrence of new thatch through the production and maintenance of a healthy living rootzone and turf.

You can find more in-depth articles on thatch here.
Compaction Control and Relief; Second only to thatch in causing green problems, Compaction is a Read more

Greenkeeping Advice Leads to Disaster

Someone searched by this term on the web and was directed to the site.

Now I normally pick out the most popular search terms to try to answer the underlying question, but this was a single and very different search term and I thought it was very interesting.

The title tells the full story; someone is of the opinion that the greenkeeping advice they received caused the opposite result from the one they expected.

This is probably due to one of two common problems; both of which I tease out and put a bit of detail on in the opening section of my eBook Performance Bowling Greens, a practical guide:

Problem Number 1. A lot of the advice that is available is non-committal, playing it safe or just wrong; for example a lot of “advisers” still peddle the same old advice which usually includes some of the most damaging practices you can inflict on a bowling green like top-dressing with high sand content top-dressing.

Problem Number 2. Bowling clubs have a high degree of impatience when it comes to waiting for improvements to materialise on their green. Even when following the correct regime there is usually a period of renovation required to get things moving in the right direction and this is why many greens never improve to any great degree; clubs don’t stick to a plan.

Now this is understandable to a degree because most club members quite rightly want a good green…now; they are paying their membership now, so now is when thy want results. This leads to desperation mode, another factor that creeps into clubs from time to time and again detailed in Performance Bowling Greens.

This is so common that many of you who have read the eBook have written to say that they recognised their own club in the examples I gave.

So when someone says that the advice they have received has caused a disaster its usually due to one of these problems.