NurseryBowling.jpgHappy New year to you all. I hope this year you can continue to improve the condition and playability of your bowls facility and have a successful season.

For most clubs finding funding for ongoing maintenance is often difficult. Even if you manage to secure volunteer help with the maintenance tasks, there is always going to be a cost for materials and sundries (seed, fertilisers, topdressings and machinery repairs) which, on average, can represent a cost of anything between £1000 and £1500 .

This is a lot of money for small low membership clubs therefore it is important you find a mechanism to raise these much needed funds. Most bowling clubs are situated in the heart of a community, maybe there is an opportunity to attract new members to join the club through active promotion of the club and its facilities. Maybe you could get local schools involved. Invite the school down to utilse the facility and introduce the sport to youngsters. The message I am trying to promote is that some clubs need to find additional ways to raise the much needed funding for the upkeep of their greens.

I see far too many greens suffering from the lack of appropiate maintenance and, in particular, proper end of season renovations being undertaken just because the club do not invest in appropiate machinery or services which, in many instances, is purely due to the lack of funds being available.

One of the biggest problems i come across is the fact that with many clubs, and I include other sports here as well (football, cricket and rugby) it would seem the pitch/green is always the last priority for funding. In fact it should be the first priority; without a decent pitch/green the club will suffer. Poor pitch quality will influence results and in the long term may affect membership.

Most bowling clubs offer great facilities, it is all about maximising their potential and getting the facility used more often and attracing new members.bowls-2.jpg

There are many jobs you can undertake during January. Firstly, it's important to ensure you are carrying out your daily brushing to keep the surface clean and at the same time remove any early morning dews. Keeping the playing surface clean and dry helps prevent disease and contamination. This can be achieved by using brushes and dragmats. Also, brushing of the green will help the sward stand upright allowing good air movement around the grass plant.

You should also be maintaining you winter height of cut at between 10-12mm. To help monitor the correct height of cut, use a prism gauge.

On your return after the holidays you are likely to find some accumulated surface debris (leaves, litter etc.) on the green and in the drainage ditches. It is important to clear it up.

January is a good time, whilst it is quiet, to plan and get yourself organised. What are your targets for this year? What do you want to achieve? Have you organised your spring renovation works? Have you ordered materials and machinery for the forthcoming season?





When conditions allow

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


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.



Diseases are fairly prominent this year. Keep an eye on fungal disease attack and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. Good cultural practices generally reduces the likelihood of disease outbreaks.


When required

Generally, no fertiliser applications are made during the winter months, as plant growth has slowed down. However, some groundstaff may apply a dose of liquid iron to colour up and provide some strength to the grass plant during the winter months.

Litter pick

Weekly or as required

Inspect and clear away litter or debris.



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



Keep an eye on your material stocks, (seed, top dressing, petrol, oil ) remembering to replenish as required.


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.

Perimeter fences and hedges

As required

Most bowling green facilities are enclosed by fences or hedges. January is a good time to complete any tidying up of these features. Hedges can be pruned and cut to maintain their shape and form.


As required

Increased soil moisture can often lead to an increase in worm activity. Regular brushing of the greens will help disperse their casts. However, if the infestation is large, you may need to apply some Carbendazim to control the worm population.


As required

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

Ideally you should have your floodlights serviced on a annual basis to check that they are safe and operating to the correct LUX values. Also check that the lights are correctly positioned, thus preventing unwanted light pollution.

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.