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The great top dressing hoax

Top dressing with high sand content composts has become a tradition in bowling green maintenance but it is far from beneficial.

  1. After 3 decades of routine top-dressing most greens are “inert” and can’t support a population of beneficial soil microbes.
  2. Soil microbes break down thatch and release nutrition to the turf.
  3. High sand and thick thatch usually result in Localised Dry Patch which is a long lasting, devastating condition that causes the soil to repel water.
  4. The surface smoothing and levelling actions of top-dressing are massively over-sold and of very little relevance to producing a smooth, fast green.
  5. Most bowling green irrigation systems are inadequate to start with, but are completely useless in the face of localised dry patch.

The process of top-dressing a bowling green has become so ingrained in our maintenance practices that it is hard to find a club that doesn’t do it, but over the decades it has devastated a huge number of greens in the UK.

Do your green and your wallet a favour and break the habit this year.

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One comment

  1. mick ashton says:

    hi john i have taken the job ov being grounds man at my club my first year im going too winterise my green but reading ur comments on top dressing i dont wont too use sand . thatch and dri ariers are present apart from that its not to bad regards mick

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