It’s that time of the year again when the question arises about the autumn bowling green maintenance program.
Of all the greenkeeping operations we do, top-dressing is certainly the most dramatic as it requires the delivery of bulk supplies of the top dressing medium of choice; usually something very sandy. And due to this relative drama; the big lorry delivering it over the hedge with a crane maybe and science and art of getting it spread evenly on the green by means of special machinery or sheer blood sweat and tears, it seems like it must be doing a lot of good.
It’s also at this time of year I start to get a lot of emails about top-dressing, many of which assume that I am dead set against it and for the most part, I am.
However, there is no one size fits all solution to the questions:
- Should we be top-dressing?
- Is it OK to hollow tine without top dressing afterwards?
- Is it OK to not top-dress a Crown green?
- Should we use 70/30, 60/40 or straight sand?
…and the many other questions that arise at this time.
The autumn renovation program you employ will very much depend on the current condition of your green and there’s no other way to know that other than going and having an educated look.
There’s no need to have chemical soil analysis reports and spreadsheets created for this, just a pressing need to get to grips with your turf and soil and to develop a deep understanding of your green eco-system that isn’t based on here-say or rumour.
I’ve written a series of articles to help with this assessment process starting here:
Autumn Bowling Green Maintenance Questions Answered
Top-dressing and hollow tining.
Q. If a crown green is hollow tined as part of autumn renovations, I always thought that it needed to be top dressed to refill the holes. Is this correct?
A. There’s no “one size fits all” answer to this and I’m certainly not anti-top-dressing. However, in the vast majority of UK greens there is already too much sand and it contributes to greens becoming inert, lifeless and susceptible to localised dry patch. 70/30 top-dressing is of course 70% sand.
What top-dressing should we buy?
Q. Following core sampling we have up to two inches of thatch in the wetter area of our green, the thatch is sour smelling and moss is more of a problem there as well. We were told that the soil registered as acidic. We want to help reduce the thatch thickness, correct the acidity and promote healthy grass growth.
Here’s my suggestion (you’ll have to decide if it suits your current conditions):
- Apply Chelated Liquid Iron (for moss) 14 days before the following:
- Hollow tining (5/8″ tines) at 2″ centres
- Graden (or 600HD Sisis) over the top of the cores
- Clean up debris, brush and clean up cut with mower (>6mm)
- Carbohydrate application in form of Caviar, CMS Shoot (molasses) or Liquid Seaweed 50%
- Autumn fertiliser (K recharge or similar)
- No top dressing.
- If your green also has Localised Dry Patch, it would be wise to apply a wetting agent as well.
- Twice monthly deep slit tining (Sisis Autoslit or similar) October to March.
- Twice monthly cut (after slitting and when conditions allow) at 7 or 8mm
- Further Carbohydrate applications monthly as above during winter.
- Spot treatment of disease outbreaks with curative fungicide: no blanket or preventative treatments if at all possible.
Some guidance on assessing the soil and turf conditions here
If you have questions of your own about autumn maintenance or any other aspect of green maintenance, pease feel free to drop me a line using the contact form, or if you’re a Bowls Central member, you can use the Help page to send more detailed info.
You can also drop a question in the comments area below.
Happy autumn renovations!