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Bowls green over-seeding rates

Leading on from my previous article on over-seeding and the new over-seeding fact sheet , I have received a few enquiries about over-seeding of bowling greens this week.

A common question is about over-seeding rates, or how much seed to use.

There is of course no right or wrong answer to this as the rate can be adjusted to suit conditions, required effect etc.

So in some circumstances it might be necessary to over-seed very heavily to ensure a thick enough sward on a bare area for example.

At other times when using a particularly specialist seed mix the rate might be very light indeed.

As a general guide if you are using a traditional 80% fescue and 20% bent grass mix, then I would normally recommend a rate of 15-20g/m2.

Over a typical green of around 1400m2 the lower end of this scale would use about 1 full commercial bag of seed.

If a more specialist all bent grass over-seeding mix was being used then the application would go down to about 8g/m2 to reflect the major difference in seed size and weight.

It’s always best to try to divide the application into two passes with the machine as this helps to avoid missed areas and gives a more uniform finish. This is all the more important when using all bent mixtures as you can’t actually see the seed once it’s been applied due to its size.

5 tips for getting this operation right are:

  1. Choose a high quality seed mix which utilises cultivars from near the top of the STRI turfgrass manual.
  2. Calibrate machinery accurately as even a small error in adjustment can waste a lot of expensive seed.
  3. Always apply seed into rather than onto the bowling green surface.
  4. Heavy sowings can encourage Damping Off disease so take care.
  5. Always apply seed in at least two passes in different directions.

Over Seeding of Bowls Greens

It’s important to create space for new seed

Over-seeding is a common element of autumn renovations. Costs for having the work done will be around £300-£500 depending on seed type, application rate and method used, but is this value for money?

In the vast majority of cases the answer is sadly…no! Why?

There are many reasons why over-seeding can turn into an expensive and in-effective luxury.  First of all it’s an easy sell for contractors; after all what’s not to like about it? It’s non-disruptive, relatively cheap and promises a surface free of bare patches and populated with fresh new vigorous grass next year.

Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.

First of all the new seedlings are up against very stiff competition from the existing, mature sward. Sure, you will see an almost 100% success rate at around 14 days after seeding in a lot of cases and your contractor will be quick to point this out to you. However, at this point the seedlings are Read more

Top dressing and over-seeding in Spring

seeding in spring is not recommended

I’ve had a couple of enquiries asking about the correct methods, quantities and materials for Spring (pre-season) over seeding and top dressing of bowling and golf greens.

This is easy; the correct thing to do in this respect is…Nothing!

Over-seeding into a sward that is about to become very vigorous as spring progresses is futile. The new seedlings don’t stand a chance against the locals.

Any new seedlings that did by some miracle survive the competition from the existing grasses would quickly succoumb to the heavy wear and tear from machinery and foot traffic the green is about to endure for the next 6 months.

Top-dressing should be avoided for all of the reasons detailed elsewhere on the site (see here), but also because applying a sandy top-dressing at this time will cause the following additional problems:

1. blunt mowers
2. sand pick up on bowls and scratched bowls
3. damage to grass plants from abrasion and blunt mower blades

So there’s an easy time and money saver for today…more on top-dressing here.