Greenkeeping Tasks for September and October have become to some degree a bit repetitive. This would be fine if the desired results followed, but in the majority of cases this can't be said to be true. This month John explains the science behind the perfect autumn renovation plan to get your green started down the road to consistent high performance.
Autumn Bowling Green Maintenance always raises a lot of questions. Top dressing continues to be the most concerning topic for many readers. Should we top dress? Is it OK not to? And...if we do, what should we use? Master Greenkeeper John Quinn answers readers' most pressing queries about Autumn Bowling Green Maintenance.
Well here we are at the end of another bowling season. It’s hard to believe that it’s that time already. On my travels around I’ve spotted the usual signs that autumn is coming with some clubs still stacking up the top dressing ready for the renovation onslaught. How I wish more clubs would re-think that plan and join the growing ranks of forward thinking clubs.
At this time of year you will hear a well worn phrase oft repeated:
“Time to put the green to bed for the winter”
Nothing makes me shudder more than that phrase as it communicates an attitude towards bowling green maintenance that is completely at odds with achieving a performance bowling green.
The process of putting the green to bed usually involves maintenance practices that many clubs have abandoned on my advice and who are now reaping the benefits of better green performance, more consistent playing conditions and although not the main aim of my program, vastly reduced maintenance costs; a nice bonus wouldn’t you say?
The putting the green to bed plan also assumes that the green should more or less be left alone after the autumn renovation program and I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth, if you want a performance green next year that is.
The autumn and winter period is the most important time of year to get some of the key work done on the green and it should be quite a busy time. The bonus is that you get to be out in the fresh, crisp air in the winter working off the Christmas excess as a lot of what I’ll be recommending is physical work.
In anticipation of all of this, I’ve been busy updating our second best seller; The Autumn and Winter Bowling Green Maintenance Guide. It has grown in size and stature and now includes a lot of new information, recommendations and ideas. However, it is just going through the very final tweaks and checks at the moment and will be officially available in the bowls central shop on Saturday morning (11th September 2015)
If you’ve recently bought the current version, don’t worry I’ll send you a free copy of the new one.
Look out for my message here or in your inbox on Saturday morning about the much bigger and fuller Autumn and Winter Bowling Green Maintenance Guide and prepare for a busy winter!
I often hear the phrase “putting the green to bed” at this time of year.
It is the most frustrating thing to hear because I don’t know of any club that can afford the luxury of stopping work on the green now.
The autumn and winter period is the most important time to get on top of a range of big problems that blight bowling greens.
For example Thatch encourages diseases such as fusarium, insect pests like leatherjackets and chafer grubs and contributes significantly to the onset of Localised Dry Patch the modern scourge of bowling greens throughout the UK. As if that wasn’t enough excessive thatch also saps the speed from your green and causes heavy, unpredictable rinks, contributes to un-even surfaces, causes bumpiness and bad rinks, reduces the efficacy of fertilisers and encourages weed grasses such as annual meadow grass to predominate the sward.
Then there is Compaction which impedes natural drainage, causes shallow rooting of grasses (which leads to skinning on heads), impedes irrigation and rain penetration and causes root break. And that’s before we even consider its expertise at encouraging weed grasses such as annual meadow grass, its ability to severely reduce the efficiency of irrigation, efficacy of fertilisers and its major contributory role in the creation of un-even surfaces and loss of grass cover on edges and heads.
If you only deal with these two issues this winter you will have gone a long way towards creating a performance green; they won’t go away by giving the green “a rest”.
I recently uploaded a new 18 page special report on autumn and Winter Maintenance of the Bowling Green to the Shop which shows you how to deal with thatch and compaction this Autumn and Winter as well as a host of other problems like Insect Pests, Fungal Disease, Localised Dry Patch and Moss.
If the answer is “brilliantly”! we truly have a high performance bowling green, then congratulations you probably need read no further.
However, if your club is like many I speak to then its probable that your answer will be somewhat less positive and that you could benefit from my new 34 page guide to Essential Autumn and Winter bowling green maintenance and preparation.
During this season has your green suffered from:
- Slow play?
- Un-even surface?
- Un-predictable rinks?
- Inconsistent surface?
- Soft and spongy turf?
- Bumpy rinks?
- Fungal disease, slime, moss, weeds or dry patch?
These are all common problems in the UK and the answer to beating them lies in the Autumn and Winter Maintenance you do starting NOW.
In my new Autumn/Winter Maintenance guide you will learn:
- The 3 most important issues in Performance Green Management
- The reason many greens never improve, this is an eye opener for many clubs!
- The Maintenance items you MUST DO NOW to prepare your green for next season
- The commonly used maintenance practices YOU MUST AVOID if you don’t want to make your green worse than it already is. Unfortunately, many clubs will already be preparing to undertake these tasks unaware that they are about to damage their green further.
- A guide to the Autumn/Winter maintenance you need to do to get your green off to a flying and early start next spring
Please don’t fall into the trap that many clubs will this autumn: make sure you are performing the correct maintenance tasks to give your green the best chance next season.
We are getting an increasing number of enquiries about the correct process for Autumn bowling green maintenance at the moment.
Here are my top 10 tips for autumn maintenance:
- DO NOT TOPDRESS
- Remove as much thatch as possible.
- Create air space in the top 100mm of the green
- Relieve Compaction
- Treat LDP by applying wetting agent
- Renovate heads to ensure recovery for next year
- Improve CEC on overly sandy soils by introducing zeolite
- Boost potassium levels
- If over-seeding, also give some Phosphorous
- Draw up a program of work to carry on right through the winter months. Don’t “put your green to bed”