September Bowls Diary

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By Laurence Gale MSc

September is a very busy month for bowling green ground staff with the onset of end of season renovations. Its important to ensure that all materials (seed, fertilisers, topdressings and any hired machinery) have arrived and are secured and stored safely on site ready for use. Often when ordering materials late, you may be faced with delays on delivery or not being able to get the products you want in time for your planned works.

The objectives of end of season renovations are many:

  • To repair worn areas.
  • Prevent a build up of thatch layers (scarification).
  • Restore surface levels (top dressing).
  • Alleviate compaction (aeration).
  • Re-establish sward densities. (overseeding).
  • Application of pre seeding / autumn fertilisers to promote sward establishment.

Diseases are often prevalent during September, 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.

September tasks for Bowls

Task

Frequency

Reason

Aeration

When conditions allow

Aeration should 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.

Disease

Daily

Keep an eye on fungal disease attack and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. Red thread can be very prominent at this time of the season.

A number of disease's are usually very active at this time of the year, namely, Red thread, fairy rings and fusarium. see link for details about disease's in turf particular Fairy rings.

Drainage channels/gullies

Weekly or as required

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

End of season renovation's

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September - October When conditions allow after the end of the playing season. 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.

Further information on renovation techniques and equipment can be seen on the following link. Renovation.

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. Applications of autumn fertilisers to promote healthy grass growth.

Grooming/Verticutting

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. Both are operations that effectively remove thatch and side shoot growth enabling the promotion of an upright plant and denser turf growth.northfield-bowls-hugh-cutti.jpg

Irrigation equipment

Daily/Weekly

September weather can often be quite unpredictable, often we can experience warm, hot dry weather spells. Which will require groundtaff to address the irrigations needs of the greens. This will be an important factor especially during the end of season renovation works. Scarifying dry grass surfaces will result in very little debris being removed. There needs to some moisture in the surface to promote affective scarification works. Also after overseeding adequate soil moisture is required to stimulate seed germination. Further information about Irrigation of sports surfaces can be see on the link. Irrigation

Litter pick

Weekly or as required

Inspect and clear away litter or debris.

Machinery

Daily/Weekly

Keep machines overhauled and clean.

Materials

Monthly

Ensure you have organised and ordered the appropriate materials for any proposed Autumn renovation works. Don't leave it too late!.

Moving markers and Rinksnorthfield-bowls-players.jpg

Daily / weekly

It is important that the rinks on flat bowling greens are moved on a regular basis to prevent wear.

Mowing

Two and three times weekly

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Repairs

As required

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

Seed bare & worn areas

When conditions allow

It is important that you use a compatible rootzone may-bowls-bare.jpg

Seeding sparse or bare areas can be continued. Any rise in soil or air temperatures will help germination. Use germination sheets to aid this process but remove the sheets regularly to check for diseases. Remember that without good seed to soil contact the operation is useless.

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.

Top Dressing

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As required

Top dressing is usually carried out in spring and autumn in conjunction with the renovation programmes. However, some bowling clubs have a policy of applying top dressing materials during the season. It is important an appropriate top dressing material is sourced to ensure compatibility with the existing rootzone materials of your green.

The last thing you want to encourage are rootbreaks in the green.

Spreading of the materials can be achieved by several methods, utilising pedestrian or ride on disc or drop action top spreaders, or by hand using a shovel and a barrow.

It is important to get an even spread of material, the aim is to put on a very light dressing, followed by brushing in with a lute or drag brush/mat to restore levels.