April Bowls Diary


By Laurence Gale MSc

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.

April is a very busy time for greenkeeping staff looking after bowling green facilities. Many clubs start their league matches mid month. Final preparations and last minute remedial work should be well underway. Pre-season preparations usually consist of a number of operations to prepare the green for play.

Final preparations

These involve a number of operations to prepare the sward for the new playing season these may include:-

  • Last minute moss control
  • Verti-cutting
  • Aeration
  • Top dressing
  • Fertilising
  • Overseeding

Many greens particularly through the winter, have suffered heavy infestations of moss. Applications of Moss killers, Super Mosstox (active ingredient dichlorophen) or similar approved chemicals will be essential in controlling moss. Other control methods included the well practiced method of applying lawn sand. A mixture of sand and Sulphate of Iron. Care should be taken when applying these chemicals warwick-bowls-kings--and-ms.jpg

Mowing should be more frequent now with mowing being completed at least 2-3 times per week. These frequencies can often be dictated by budget and the clubs level of play. The height of cut should be decreasing until the optimum cutting height is achieved for the standard of play, usually down to between 4-5mm.

The bowling green playing surface will benefit form some light rolling in April to settle down the green from any recent frosts. This is usually achieved whilst mowing when the weight of the mower is sufficient to achieve the desired results. The development of motorised turf irons (fine turf rollers as seen in left hand side picture) also help prepare final levels on the playing surfaces.

April tasks for Bowls





When conditions allow

Aeration is important to improve surface and subsurface drainage capacity of the green. Aeration also increases gaseous exchanges in the soil. It is important to use the right aeration equipment, as you do not want to disturb the surface too much prior to the playing season.

Do not carry out aeration when there is the likelihood of smearing or causing damage to the 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 help stop the spread of disease



Keep an eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas.

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 tonic 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 be applying a spring/summer N P K fertiliser, perhaps something like a 9/7/7 which will effectively get the grass moving during April. Then, towards the end of April or early May, apply a slow release fertiliser to see you through to June/July. However, the choice of material and how well it works can be dependant on many factors, 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 any maintenance programmes. As air temperatures increase and day light hours are getting longer, there is the likelihood of the soil and turf surface drying out. Longer daylight increases a longer growing day and therefore more evapotranspiration takes place, removing moisture from the soil.

Litter pick

Weekly or as required

Inspect and clear away any litter or debris, (high winds may blow debris onto greens).


Daily / Weekly

Keep machines overhauled and clean.



Ensure you have organised and ordered the appropriate materials from suppliers, don't leave it too late! There should be a supply of top dressing and seed as well as your chosen fertiliser. Possibly some wetting agent and any chemical controls that could be needed at short notice.


Weekly or as required

Soil and air temperatures will continue to rise in April and this will stimulate further grass growth. Regular mowing will now be implemented to develop an even sward. It is important to lower the height of cut gradually until reaching the optimum height for match play at the start of the bowling season. Mowing height should be maintained at around 4-5mm.


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. April is still is an ideal time to obtain a soil analysis of the green, measuring for soil Ph, nutrients levels and organic matter content, which are seen as good indicators of the condition of the soil. Once you have this information you will be in a better position to plan your season's feeding and maintenance programmes.
Verti-cutting Fortnightly Verti-cutting helps to thin the sward, remove weak grasses, help the sward to stand up vertically and encourage tillering.