October Bowls Diary

By Laurence Gale MSc

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October sees the start of the autumn renovations. Most club matches have either finished or will be finished by mid October, leaving a relatively short period of time to complete end of season renovations. The aim of the renovations is to repair and rejuvenate the greens, repairing all worn areas, reducing thatch layers, restoring surface levels and re-introducing some finer grasses back into the sward. Once the renovations have been completed the greens usually remain closed until next spring.

Diseases, particularly Fusarium are often prevalent during the autumn, mainly due to the heavy dews that are present at this time of the year. Moisture on the leaf will allow diseases to move and spread easily. Regular brushing in the mornings to remove the moisture from the leaf is an important maintenance regime to deter an attack of disease.

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.

Task

Frequency

Reason

Aeration

When conditions allow

Aeration should be continued throughout the autumn when conditions allow, the use of a sarrell roller will be beneficial in keeping the surface open.

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.

Disease

Daily

Diseases are fairly prominent during October. Keep an eye on fungal disease attack and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. Fusarium can be very prominent at this time of the season.

Drainage channels/gullies

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Weekly or as required

Autumn leaves are beginning to fall. Inspect and clean out drain outfalls and gullies. Replace and level up drainage ditch materials.

End of season renovations

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October

These works will involve a number of operations that are carried out on the greens.

The following activities are generally implemented during autumn renovation and usually carried out in the following order:-

  1. Mowing the sward, preparing surfaces for renovation.

  2. Scarification, removal of unwanted debris (collect and disposal of arisings).

  3. Aeration, decompaction of soil, improving air and gas exchange in soil.

  4. Top dressing, restores levels and improves surface drainage.

  5. Overseeding, restores grass populations.

  6. Fertilising, provides nutrients for grass growth.

  7. Brushing to incorporate dressings and to help the grass stand back up.

  8. Watering/Irrigation.

1. Mowing

End of season renovation

Mow the green to prepare for renovation, this will clean off any debris prior to renovations. The mower is also utilised for cleaning up the green after scarification. (use an old/spare machine).

2. Scarification

End of season renovation

Scarifying should be carried out using a wire rake or rotary type powered scarifiers to clean out accumulated thatch and organic matter from the green. This is generally achieved with several passes (2-6) over the green in different directions. Depth settings range between 2-10mm depending on how severe you want to scarify the surface. Modern scarifiers have collection boxes to collect the arisings. If not, the use of brushes and hovers can be used to clear debris/arisings.

3. Aeration

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End of season renovation

There are a wide range of turf aerators on the market, however choice will be dependant on what you want to achieve. Hollow tines are generally used annually or bi-annually to remove a cores of soil from the green greatly improving gas, air and soil exchange. The hollow cores are swept and removed from the green. If hollow tining, it often pays to leave the core holes open for a period of time (two weeks) to allow good air circulation prior to top dressing. If hollow tines are not used an alternative solid tine spiker/ aerator must be used to de-compact the green. Aeration depth is important ranges between 100-300mm should be achieved.

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End of season renovation

Be sure to use compatible top dressing materials. Soil tests will identify what soil type you have and its particle size makeup. Top dressings come in varying compositions, straight sands, 80/20 or 70/30 soil sand mixes. Application rates will also be dependant on what you want to achieve.

Less material will be required when dressing the green after solid tine spiking approximately 2-4 tonnes of material will dress the green to a depth of 1-2mm. However, you will need considerable more top dressing material when hollow tining, anything from 5-10 tonnes depending on the size of tines used.

It is essential to use appropriate top dressing spreaders for applying the top dressing materials, ensuring you are putting the material out evenly. The weather must also be suitable, i.e. dry ground conditions and minimal wind.

See links for topdressing materials that can be bought online in the Pitchcare shop, or view the following link for suppliers. Topdressing suppliers

5. Overseeding

End of season renovation

Overseeding is important to re-populate the green with finer grass seed varieties usually fescue and bent grasses. See link for details of grass seed varieties available in the Pitchcare shop. It is important that the seed makes contact with the soil, using a seeder that slots the seed into the surface is a better option than broadcasting the seed on the surface. General sowing rates are 35g/m2 .

6. Fertilising

End of season renovation

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. A list of autumn fertiliser products can be assessed at the following link: Autumn fertilisers.

7. Brushing/dragmatting

End of season renovation

Once the seed and top dressings have been applied it is important to brush / drag mat the materials into the playing surface to restore levels and integrate material into hollow / solid tine holes. The weather will play a crucial part in the success of this operation. the surface material need to be dry when brushing in it moves and drops into the holes more easily than when wet.

8. Irrigation

End of season renovation

Irrigation may be required during the renovation period to aid germination of the new seed. Germination sheets can also be used.

October weather can still often be quite unpredictable. We can experience warm, hot dry weather spells which will require groundstaff to address the irrigations needs of the greens.

Litter pick

Weekly or as required

Inspect and clear away litter or debris.

Machinery

Daily/Weekly

Keep machines overhauled and clean. Arrange the servicing of your machines ready for the new season.

Materials

Monthly

Keep an eye on your material stocks, remembering to replenish as required.

Mowingdave-bull-mower-small-image.jpg

As required

With the season finished and the green closed down for the winter, mowing will only be required to maintain a winter height of cut at (10-12mm).

Repairs

As required

Carry out any repairs to ditches, paths, gates, floodlights and other building features.

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.