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Slime on bowling green turf

Slime on bowling green turf and squidge are disorders of turf that can be both unsightly and hazardous for players as they can both make the surface slippery.

Although they don’t cause damage to the turf as such, they are signs of underlying problems with your green.

The conditions that attract these disorders to your green are excessively wet and spongy turf, usually due to excessive thatch. The soil will usually also be very acidic as a result of anaerobic soil/turf.

The medium to long term solution is to deal with the thatch and you can get the low down on that here.

Immediate and on-going aeration will help a lot to get the process of recovery started, but this has to be part of a concerted program of work to deal with compaction, thatch and generally poor soil conditions.

The question of liming acidic soil comes occasionally, but this is not recommended as broadcasting of lime on fine turf can lead to immediate outbreaks of fungal disease and in any case it usually isn’t needed.

As soon as you start to get some oxygen back into the soil by relieving compaction and dealing with the wet and usually smelly, anaerobic thatch, the soil will start to “sweeten” again.

However there is one little lime based trick you can use to clear the green of the odd patch of slime to allow a match to go ahead and its detailed here.

The main issue is to start to follow a Performance Greens maintenance program to get over the conditions that caused the problem in the first place.

Slime on Bowls Green

Another enquiry that suffered from our email address problem on the web form was this one:

What causes small patches of black “slime” on our green and what are the short and long term fixes? The patches are slippery.

Now this is an easier one to fix than the myriad of problems being experienced by the bees!

Slime on the green surface is an indicator of acidic soil conditions. This is likely to be accompanied by dense thatch, compaction and a general lack of health and anaerobic conditions in the green and soil. The soil pH is likely to be very low.

The circle of decline fleshes this out comprehensively.

Tackling the root cause is of course the best way to proceed in the long term and just about anything you read on this site about green maintenance will point you in the right direction, with frequent aeration being the most beneficial practice to concentrate on.

In the short term you can get rid of the slime by adding a teacup full of farmers lime to a bucket of tepid water.  Stir this until it is fully dissolved and then make up to 20 litres with cold water.  Make sure that this is fully mixed before adding to a knapsack sprayer and spot treating the areas of slime.

Use the sprayer as you would for any other application i.e. by walking over the area and spraying as you pass; don’t stand still to spray individual areas as this will result in overdosing and possible damage to the grass.

Walk over the green in two directions, pulling the trigger each time you come to a patch of slime.

Final precautions: Don’t handle the lime without eye and skin protection and make sure that the sprayer is clear of all total weed-killer that it might have been used for previously. Don’t be tempted to use the lime in its powder form on the green.

7 secrets every bowls green keeper should know

  1. Don’t top-dress your bowls green.
  2. Mow more often not more closely.
  3. Provide your green with carbohydrates.
  4. Raise the blades to 5mm.
  5. Learn how to water your bowls green correctly
  6. pH watch; there is no need to try to tweak or change the pH of your green but it is good to know what it is so that you can determine the cause of problems such as slime on the bowls green turf surface. Poor growth, yellowing turf and excessive thatch are usually signs that your green is acidic. However, the antidote is simpler and more fundamental than you may think.
  7. Sarrell roll your bowls green frequently; regular sarrell roling is hugely beneficial to your green. It is non disruptive and allows the flow of moisture and oxygen into the surface.

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Why has our bowls green become slippery?

This week I thought I would take some time out to address some of the questions that have led site visitors here from the search engines. We did this for a week last autumn and it was very successful with a lot of good feedback from readers.

The first one stood out to me as it seems to be a very common issue around the country and is really very simple to fix. We have a had a variety of different questions centred on greens becoming slippery.

This can happen for a variety of Read more