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High Performance Bowls Green Maintenance

Performance Bowling Greens eBookSpring is upon us.

The new bowling season is, or will soon be under-way and there still seems like so much to do to get the green ready for play.

Today, I am going to give an overview of the work that should be going on at the green and over the coming weeks I will fill this out by looking a bit more in-depth at each of the recommended tasks individually.

For the time being I have dropped the price of Performance Bowling Greens to encourage as many clubs as possible to get hold of a copy of what has become a very popular manual for achieving a high performance bowling green.

Today’s post and the subsequent articles and links I will share with you this month assume that you are working from the Performance Greens Manual.

As usual of course, if there are any questions, please feel free to get in touch. The best way to do this is by leaving a comment on any post, signing in to use the forums or by dropping me an email.

So what should we be doing on the green in the lead up to the new bowling season?

To start, I should point out that the programs detailed in the Performance Greens Manual are spilt into 3 distinct categories as follows:

  1. Baseline: this program consists of maintenance tasks that should be carried out as detailed in the Performance Greens Manual regardless of green condition. Whether your green is in a dire state of repair or is already a high performance surface, these tasks are essential.
  2. Renovation: this program, again detailed in the Performance Greens Manual, is aimed at greens that are in the renovation or recovery phase. These tasks should be carried out in addition to the baseline program.
  3. Performance: this program is for greens that have already been through the renovation phase and are starting to perform at a high level. Again, these tasks should be carried out in addition to the baseline program.

Based on the above, you will be carrying out some or all of the following tasks in early spring:

  • Mowing
  • Worm cast/dew removal
  • Trimming green edges
  • Mini-solid tining
  • Slit tining
  • Scarifying
  • Applying wetting agent
  • Applying corrective granular fertiliser
  • Applying organic growth stimulants
  • Possibly applying pesticides but only if absolutely essential.

Tomorrow we will get started by looking more closely at the correct mowing regime and some of the technicalities of this.

Meantime, I encourage you to get hold of your copy of the Performance Bowling Greens. This will help you to follow the advice from the site and apply it to your own situation more accurately.

Mowing Height and the British Weather

It can be very tempting to get the mowing height on the green down as quickly as possible when the new season starts.

However, the weather can  be very unpredictable at this time of year with sudden and welcome warm spells being chased by almost winter conditions in a very short time frame. As a result there is a need for caution at this time of year when deciding on how quickly to reduce the mowing height on the green.

Performance Greens readers and regulars on this site will know that I generally recommend a mowing height of around 8mm through the winter months.

This should be reduced gradually to the summer height of 5mm with 4.5mm being the lowest recommended height for fine grasses.

At  this time we can sometimes be enjoying temperatures that we will be lucky to see even in July, and with a deft change in the wind direction our little island can seem like a completely different place and we are plunged back  into winter without notice.

Grass that has been chopped down quickly will suffer and I recommend that you stay up at 6mm even for opening day, aiming for 5mm in May, unless it’s snowing of course!

Pre Season Mowing Program

There is more to mowing than meets the eye

Whatever the season, mowing remains the most important job in the maintenance of a Performance Bowling Green.

Often overlooked due to the everyday nature of the task, there is a lot more to mowing than meets the eye. It is particularly important to follow the correct mowing regime to ensure green consistency and speed. More detailed information on green speed and consistency here.

At this time of year in the run up to the new season, it’s especially important that we get the mowing program right.

During the winter the green surface should have been maintained at a mowing height of around 8mm. In very cold winters, you will see some recession in height and this is difficult to avoid. However, in mild winters, like the one most of us have had this year it is quite normal for the green to keep growing throughout the winter months and this growth needs to be kept in check to minimise the outbreak of diseases and other problems associated with lush winter turf.

Now that the new bowling season beckons we need to gradually lower the cutting height and I would suggest taking it down to around 7mm this month, aiming for 6mm by opening day and 5mm by the end of May, all dependent on soil temperature and prevailing weather; we can still be in the grip of icy cold winds at Easter.

Mowing frequency will be dictated largely by growth rate, but once a week now should be the minimum, bearing in mind that you don’t want to be removing more than a third of the leaf at any one time. So, if the green is growing vigorously, then more frequent mowing will be required.

Of course its tempting to keep the work to a minimum, but mowing will also help to lightly roll the green surface, so it might be beneficial to mow more frequently than is actually required.

The most important factor in mowing is ensuring that the mower is razor sharp and that there is zero contact between the blade and cylinder to give the cleanest and least damaging cut to the grass leaf. More detailed information on mowing can be found here.

Tomorrow we will look more closely at the pre-season renovation work required on the green, with a look at some do’s and don’t’s.