May Bowls Diary


By Laurence Gale

Last month's weather was appalling with well over 60mm of rainfall and cool temperatures. This has affected turf growth and the performance of greens, with many currently being slow and soft. However, in May we are looking forward to better weather.

Most of the tasks detailed can be undertaken within a limited budget. Local conditions and circumstances will need to be taken into account. If any members are undertaking any specific work not detailed, please let us know by adding a comment in the section below the diary.

May tasks for Bowls





When conditions allow

Aeration will only be carried out using micro tine aerators (if and when required) as we do not want to disturb the playing surface.

Brushing / switching

Daily or as required

Brushing/switching of the playing surface keeps the green clean and removes any dew or surface water. Keeping the surface dry will aid resistance to disease.



Keep an eye on fungal disease attack and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. Fusarium is very prominent at the moment due to the recent wet weather and the application of fertilisers.

Drainage channels/gullies

Weekly or as required

Inspect and clean out drain outfalls and gullies. Replace and level up drainage ditch materials.

Fertilising As required Fertiliser treatment and turf tonics can be continued in accordance with your annual programme. If you haven't got a fertiliser programme, have your soil tested; try an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results.

Most grounds staff will have already applied a spring/summer N P K fertiliser, perhaps something like a 9/7/7 and looking to apply a summer fertiliser dressing, something like a 8/0/6 reducing the N and P inputs trying to maintain a stable balanced growth during May. At the end of May an appliction of a slow release fertiliser will see you through to June/July. The choice of material and how well it works can be dependant on many factors such as soil type, weather, with moisture and air temperature being the catalyst for growth.

Irrigation equipment

Daily / Weekly

Inspect installations for leaks. There may be a need to irrigate during May as air temperatures rise and day light hours are getting longer, increasing the likelihood of the ground and surfaces drying out.

Litter pick

Weekly or as required

Inspect and clear away litter or debris.


Daily / Weekly

Keep machines overhauled and clean.



Ensure you have organised and ordered the appropriate materials from suppliers, don't leave it too late!


Two and three times weekly


Performance Quality Standards Measure as required. There are a number of performance quality standards (BS7370:P3, A6 standards) that can be used to measure the condition of your facility These include the measurement of:-
  • Length of herbage (mm)
  • Ground Cover %
  • Pest & Diseases %
  • Root depth (mm)
  • Thatch (mm)
  • Infiltration (mm per hour)
  • Rebound resilience %
  • relative % bounce

The results are measured against predetermined standards (high, standard and basic levels). These can be seen in the IOG Guidelines for Performance Quality standards (part one, sports surfaces natural/non turf).


As required

Carry out any repairs to ditches, paths, gates, floodlights and other building features.
Verticutting / grooming Fortnightly or as required. With the development of mowing technology, most fine turf mowers have cassette fitting attachments that offer additional maintenance operations such as grooming and verticutting. These are both operations that affectively remove thatch and side shoot growth enabling the promotion of an upright plant and denser turf growth.
Seed bare & worn areas When conditions allow may-bowls-bare.jpg

Ensure you use new seed as old material may not give you the required germination rates.

Soil tests Ideally once or twice a year, or as required. Soil sampling is an important part of groundmanship. The results will enable the manager to have a better understanding of the current status of his soil and turf. There are many tests that can be undertaken, but usually the main tests to consider are:
  • Particle Size Distribution (PSD) this will give you accurate information on the soil type and it's particle make up, enabling you to match up with appropriate top dressing materials and ensuring you are able to maintain a consistent hydraulic conductivity (drainage rate) of your soil profile.
  • Soil pH, it is important to keep the soil at a pH of 5.5-6.5, a suitable level for most grass plants.
  • Organic matter content, it is important to keep a balanced level of organic matter content in the soil profile.
  • Nutrient Levels. Keeping a balance of N P K nutrients within the soil profile is essential for healthy plant growth.

Once you have this information you will be in a better position to plan your season's feeding and maintenance programmes.