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Crow Damage on Bowls Green

Crows, usually useful messengers about other problems are the problem at Paul's green

Paul in Wimbledon has a problem with some very streetwise crows.

So far Paul has investigated for leatherjackets and has ascertained that thatch levels are under control.

I’ll let Paul tell the story here and then continue the conversation in the comments area.

All input and ideas or experiences from other readers very welcome. Let’s help Paul get to the bottom of this frustrating problem.



I read your articles with great interest and find them very informative and helpful. We have combined much of the information into the last couple of years winter maintenance programmes with considerable success, so please keen them coming. However, it’s now that we need your help and advice more than ever on how to eliminate the damage being done to our green by a family of crows.
Our club “West Wimbledon Bowling Club” is located in a residential area of Raynes Park in Surrey, not far from Wimbledon Common. Like most clubs over the last 10 years membership has decreased and we now function on a limit financial budget, hence we, or at least four of our member have taken over 75% of our green mamagement, under the watchful eye of a consultant.
Our green has been fully enclosed with an electric fence for the last 20+ years, which was installed to detered the urban foxes and we had been damage free upto about 3 years ago when the crows arrived.
Over the last 3 years we have been effected by a family of about 6 crows damaging our green. Initially the damage began with Read more

Bowls Greens don’t have beds!

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.

Bird Damage to Bowls Greens

Bird Damage to Bowls Greens

Bird Damage to Bowls Greens is a common issue faced by greenkeepers. A few readers have been writing in to ask about dealing with birds digging up their greens and quite rightly enquiring as to what can be done to control the bird activity.

Well, although there are occasions when birds will dig up turf on speculation that there might be some food, its unusual for them to cause widespread damage to large areas of the green unless they have a dead cert food supply.

Even though there might not be any obvious signs of grubs or insects, if there is significant bird activity (especially during mild spells) then it is also likely that leatherjackets are active.

Leatherjackets are the larvae of the Crane Fly (Daddy Long Legs) and they are voracious consumers of turf roots. They will usually continue to feed on grass roots right through the winter period.

If bird activity is very localised on just a few small areas of the green this might be explained by mossy turf as it easy to dig up, so if you have areas of moss this might explain the problem too.

I am often asked help o how to deal with the birds in these cases, how to keep them off the turf or to scare them away. However, in most cases it is important to remember that the birds are only the messengers, bringing you news and some measure of control over a very serious problem for your green.

The leatherjackets will do a huge amount of harm to your green, much more then the damage caused by the birds. Once a tribe of leatherjackets has munched its way across your green you could lose large areas of turf as there are no longer any significant roots left. This manifests itself as large areas of yellowing turf.

So the advice is:

  1.  don’t shoot the messenger!
  2. keep thatch under control
  3. aim for a dense, tight sward of perennial grass
  4. use a balanced eco-system approach to your greenkeeping

On the subject of ecological greenkeeping, here is how one golf course manager in Canada deals with insect problems: