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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 reasons, but the remedy is largely the same regardless of cause.

Slime, slime mould and squidge are problems on turf that can make the surface slippery. These aren’t diseases as such as they don’t actually affect the grass adversely. They are jelly like substances and are usually found occupying bare areas on the green.

Algae is another occupier of bare patches of soil and can make the surface slippery, but again this is not a disease and does not actually adversely affect the grass plants.

Surface capping usually associated with severe Localised Dry Patch and usually accompanied by some level of algae can make large areas of the green very slippery and dangerous to play on. These areas are usually devoid of all grass cover and water simply runs off the surface.

Green conditions usually associated with each of these problems:

  1. Excessive thatch
  2. Compaction
  3. Acidic Soil Conditions

One or all of these problems is usually the last straw for a club just before they finally bite the bullet and start on the Performance Greens Program as it seems that things just can’t get any worse.

Some immediate relief can be had from Slime and Squidge by using lime in very low concentration as described here. This is however a temporary measure and should be followed immediately by the introduction of intensive aeration as the starting point to a performance program.

Reducing thatch, on-going relief of compaction and keeping Localised Dry Patch under control are all important but it is important to remember that your green is a little eco-system all of its own and issues should be addressed as such and not in isolation. Every problem has a cause and it is usually centred on one of the two big issues of compaction and/or thatch.

Acidic soil conditions very rarely need chemical attention to alter pH as the introduction of oxygen via aeration is usually sufficient to start to sweeten the soil up again and get the natural processes of thatch decomposition and soil microbe population increase underway.

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