March Bowls Diary

By Laurence Gale MSc

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With many parts of the country experiencing a blast of severe wintry weather, snow, frosts and freezing conditions, many clubs spring programme of renovations will have been disrupted. Watch out for disease attack after snow cover.

Keeping the surface clean and disease free will be the priority in readiness for the mowing and any spring renovation works required.

Check those often forgotten parts of the playing arena - surround fencing, floodlights and irrigation systems. Don't wait until the players are there for their first match or session.

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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.

Continue with your aeration and fertilising programmes. With regards to applying your fertiliser it might be advisable to take a soil sample and have it analysed and then apply the necessary feed.

With temperatures rising, grass will start to grow, so begin cutting when weather conditions allow. Keep at 10-12mm at the start of the month and gradually reducing to 8mm by the end of the month.

Be vigilant for signs of pests or diseases in and on your turf. Worms and worm casts can affect the playing surface. A healthy sward will minimise their impact but, if the problem persists, chemical control might be the only alternative, use carbendazim.

Any bare or sparse areas can be lightly tilthed, over seeded and top-dressed with a sand/loam mix. Cover with germination sheets to promote growth.

Ditches

Clean and tidy ready for the new season. Check the matting and replace any damaged or rotten sections. If you are using rubber crumb, check the bags for holes; repair or replace as necessary.

General

Check and ensure your equipment and machinery has been serviced and in good working order. Also, if it is your responsibility, then check the bowls equipment and repair or replace as needed.

If you have one, check and re-commission the irrigation system, making sure that it is in good working order and the pop ups are irrigating the areas you want them to.

Make sure you have all the necessary materials, seeds, loam etc. ready for any spring renovation work. If you have floodlights, get them checked by a qualified electrician. Replace bulbs as necessary. Prune any bushes/hedges that might be encroaching on to the green or likely to cast shade.

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.

March tasks for Bowls

Task

Frequency

Reason

Aeration

When conditions allow. Do not carryout aeration when there is the likelihood of smearing or damaging the surface

Aeration is important to improve surface and subsurface drainage capacity of the green.

Aeration also increases gaseous exchanges in the soil.

Brushing / switching

Daily or as required

Brushing / switching of the playing surface keeps the green clean and removes any dew or surface water. By 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.

Drainage channels/gullies

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Weekly or as required

Inspect and clean out drain outfalls and gullies.

Replacing and levelling up of drainage ditch materials.

Fertilising Pre season / as required An application of spring fertiliser to stimulate healthy grass growth.

Irrigation equipment

Daily / Weekly

Ensure that water valves are switched off and systems drained down to prevent frost damage.

Organise winter overhaul of irrigation equipment ready for the coming season.

Litter pick

Weekly or as required

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

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Daily / Weekly

Keep machines overhauled and clean.

Consider organising repairs to ensure the machinery operational (servicing & sharpening)

Materials

Monthly

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

Mowing

Weekly or as required

Soil and air temperatures will begin to rise in March and this will stimulate 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.

Repairs

As required

Carry out any repairs to ditches, paths, gates, floodlights and other building features.
Scarifying Pre season Scarifying should be carried out to remove moss, thatch and decaying matter that may have formed during the winter.
Soil tests Ideally once or twice a year, or as required. March 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.