BowlsCutting.jpg The continued rain will have affected the performance of many bowling greens; once wet and saturated the speed of the bowl will be slowed and the playing surface prone to damage.

Greens that have high levels of thatch will take longer to dry out due to the thatch acting like a sponge.

Grass growth has been poor this year due to a combination of factors. Prolonged wet weather, low air and soil temperatures and the fact that much needed nutrients have been washed out of the soil profiles. However, moss growth has been prolific with ideal growing conditions being prevalent. Therefore, there are many greens suffering from high contents of moss and thatch. It will be important to implement a regular programme of verticutting and scarifying to remove these two evils from your swards.

Many greens will be looking sickly and yellow due to the fact that they are in need of a feed. The heavy rain will have certainly washed out nutrients from your soil profiles. An application of balanced summer fertiliser will rectify any loss of nutrients.


The summer bowling green maintenance regime continues, with regular mowing, grooming, feeding, brushing and watering.

Aeration is a key activity to ensure that there is a good air/gas exchange going on in the soil profile. The use of a sarrel roller (depth 5mm) helps to keep the surface open without disturbing the playing surface. Deeper aeration should only be done with micro tines when moist conditions allow penetration.

BowlsSwitch.jpg 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.

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.

To help prevent constant wear in the same locations it is important to move markers and rinks on flat greens.

Mowing frequency will often be dependant on the resources available to the clubs. Ideally, most clubs will be mowing daily or at least three times a week. Regular mowing will be required to maintain sward height at around 4-8mm. Some clubs will reduce their mowing heights further, perhaps down to 3mm to help speed up the greens for club competitions. Prolonged mowing at these heights will lead to plant stress.

The speed of greens can be affected by other factors - too much thatch is the main cause of slow greens, or the fact that the greens have not had enough top dressings to maintain levels. Many bowlers nearly always complain about slow, inconsistent greens, often resulting in many clubs trying to speed them up by shaving off more grass. In the short term this may increase speed but, in the long term, it will be very damaging to the green.

The best way to balance the health of the grass plant and to achieve good green speeds is to promote and carry out effective cultural practices to maintain surface playability:

  • Remove and control the rate of unwanted vegetative growth (thatch & side growth) by regular grooming and verticutting operations.
  • Light applications of topdressing will restore and maintain surface levels, thus increasing greens speed.
  • Mowing in several directions to reduce nap layering will help increase green speeds.
  • Double cutting for matches will help increase green speeds.
  • Controlling soil moisture will help influence green speeds.
  • Timing of fertiliser products can affect green speed.
  • Rolling the greens will increase greens speed. However, over rolling will lead to problems. There are a number of specially designed turf irons that have been specially developed for increasing greens speed.

Remember, it is important to balance the health and condition of the green when considering surface playability.