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How to Water a Bowls Green

Irrigation-a vital skill to master for a performance green

During dry and hot weather the need to water your green properly can’t be over emphasised. Although it can be tempting to let the green burn to achieve speed, this can turn to disaster and cause the green to fail later in the season.

So what is the right way to water your green?

Whatever method of watering you are using, whether it be an automatic pop up system, hose and sprinkler or simply hand watering with a hose, the rule you should follow is Read more

Water Surprise

A common question is “How much does it cost to water a bowling green for a season?”

Answer: a lot less for a performance bowling green than one in the throes of a traditional maintenance program.

It surprises me that clubs are surprised at the little surprises they get when the water bill comes in.

How can you be surprised that you used more water this year when you added 5 or 10 tonnes of sand to the green last autumn?

Many greens are already unmanageable in a normal (UK) summer due to excessive water requirements, localised dry patch and impermeable thatch; in a drought scenario its unlikely that there is any amount of water that would suffice.

This is because most of the water applied to poorly maintained greens is wasted to evaporation, run off and/or leaching.

Thick thatch holds water at the surface like a sponge, until of course LDP sets in, then it becomes akin to concrete and most water is lost to run off.

LDP causes soil particles to become hydrophobic, shedding any water that gets through the thatch to the macro-pores in the soil and away to the drains.

Performance greens can be watered cheaply and effectively because they only need enough to keep them alive during prolonged dry periods and can mostly take care of themselves in the normal course of a British Summer.

In many cases there is no need for anything more sophisticated than a large holding tank (the bigger the better) a simple pump and a 19mm hose to hand water hot spots on the green. This is much more effective than pop up sprinklers.

Water requirements and routines are given in more detail here.

Irrigation Systems

Bowling green irrigation is one of the areas of bowling green maintenance that raises the most questions.

On the face of it, this appears to be a simple subject; install sprinklers (watering systems), switch them on when it’s dry and the green gets evenly watered and everybody’s happy!

In reality it is a minefield of decisions including; best system design for your green, water storage, watering schedules, when, how and how much to water, green speed, disease, dry patch, thatch etc.

I have assembled some more in-depth information regarding the watering of bowling greens here.

If you need any help with this subject please feel free to drop me a line directly.

Do you make these 5 bowls green keeping errors?

  1. Mowing too close;  this causes scalping, moss, weeds and weed grasses such as annual meadow grass.
  2. Over watering; this causes a spongy bowls green surface, poor rinks, compaction, encourages annual meadow grass and fungal disease.
  3. Over fertilising; this causes lush growth and the subsequent slowing down of the green, can contribute to disease outbreaks, poor sward composition and unpredictable playing characteristics.
  4. Mowing too infrequently; this causes peaks and troughs of high performance and under performance of the green. mowing frequency is probably the most important factor in achieving consistent green performance.
  5. Top-dressing; the myth that bowls greens need to be top-dressed regularly is all about selling top dressing materials and services. it is not beneficial to the majority of UK bowling greens and in fact is detrimental to the health of the turf, soil eco-system, is costly and leads to long term problems with thatch, poor performance and localised dry patch.

You can read in detail about how bowls green condition declines here.

The answer to achieving a High Performance Bowls Green is here.

Performance Bowling Greens eBook
Performance Bowling Greens eBook
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