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Slit tining bowls greens

Last week I had a guy tell me that slit tining is old fashioned and worthless in bowling green maintenance.

In its place he offered deep solid tining (usually referred to as verti-draining). This involves taking a tractor onto the bowling green and bursting vertical holes into the green at close spacing to a depth of 12 inches.

My answer to this was two-fold:

  1. Electric light, television, penicillin, the internal combustion engine and potatoes are old fashioned too.
  2. Most bowling greens were built with only 6-8 inches of topsoil.

Because something is “old fashioned” doesn’t mean it’s of no use. In fact if something “old fashioned” is still around it’s usually because it’s still very useful.

Deep (6-8”) slit tining your bowling green continually (twice a month isn’t too much) throughout the winter months is the single most effective way to safely relieve compaction.

Your green becomes increasingly compacted as the season goes on due to the downward pressure of feet and machinery. The winter is the only time you can work on this effectively.

Forcefully penetrating the layers below the rootzone by means of a deep vertical solid tiner is damaging to the underlying construction and drainage principles of the green and even one operation can cause damage that might take years to become fully apparent. This usually results in the incumbent greenkeeper being fired for something he had nothing to do with because no one can believe that something that was done to the green years ago could cause problems that didn’t surface until so much later. In a reflective moment I wrote a little story about this a while ago. You can read it here.

The potential for damage is explained in detail in Performance Bowling Greens and Slit tining along with other essential winter maintenance is discussed in the Autumn/Winter Maintenance Guide.