As a new year begins, it is perhaps a good time to reflect on what you achieved last year, and then plan what you want to achieve in the coming year. Keeping records and monitoring the performance of your turf facility should be encouraged. How can we be expected to know how to improve the condition of the sward if we do not recognise or understand its current state?
Always keep records of the work you have carried out and the materials/products you have applied. Also, take the opportunity to take soil samples to monitor soil nutrient status and level of soil ph. When taking core samples, you can also keep an eye on thatch content and soil moisture content.
Investing in your green will have long term benefits; keeping the green healthy and producing a high quality playing surface will help promote the club, and even encourage the joining of new members.
Key Tasks for January
Recent mild weather, with air and soil temperatures creeping into double figures has stimulated some grass growth. So, there may be a need to get the mower out to retain winter height of cut of between 5 -12mm.
Many clubs are now using pedestrian rotary mowers with rear rollers to cut their greens during the winter period. These mowers have the added bonus of being able to suck up surface debris and leave the greens clean and tidy.
It's important to ensure you are carrying out your daily brushing to keep the surface clean and, at the same time, removing 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.
Aeration should be continued throughout the winter when conditions allow; the use of a sarrel roller will be beneficial in keeping the surface open.
January and February is a good time to take soil samples and get them sent off for analysis, thus enabling you to get them back in time to start your new year's maintenance. Ideally, if you have not had one done before, you should have a full (PSD) Particle Size Distribution soil analysis done to tell you the actual make up of your soil profile.
Soil is made up of percentages of clay, silt and sand. The PSD analysis will identify the ratio of these and confirm soil type, thus giving you a better understanding of what soil you are dealing with.
Also, you can establish the amount of organic matter (OM) content, as well as soil nutrient status and soil Ph. With this information, you will be able to identify the needs of your soil.
Carrying out these test also allows you to check other physical conditions of the green, such as root depth, levels of compaction and aerobic state of the soil.
Some clubs continue to apply wetting agents to help improve and enhance soil performance. A wetting agent is such a substance that reduces the surface tension of a liquid, causing the liquid to spread across or penetrate the soil profile more easily. These are usually applied on a monthly basis.
Little or no applications of nitrogen are applied during January, however, there may be some very low N and high P applications made to maintain some colour, but more importantly to increase root development. Many clubs may resort to applying Iron sulphate products to help maintain some colour, harden up the plant and kill off any moss spores.
Keep an eye on fungal disease attack and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. Good cultural practices generally reduce the likelihood of disease outbreaks.
Moss can also become a problem during the winter months, finding its way into bare areas; a dose of sulphate of iron will help control it whilst, at the same time, helping to colour up the green.
Keep machines overhauled and clean. Arrange the servicing of your machines ready for the new season. Keep an eye on your material stocks (seed, topdressing, petrol, oil), remembering to replenish as required.
Please take time to inspect and repair any watering or irrigation systems; many bowling clubs now have pop-up irrigation systems, so ensure they have been drained down for winter. Organise an inspection, re-commissioning and calibration of the system in late February.
Pitchcare is the only provider of LANTRA accredited training courses in the maintenance of Bowls Greens. It is a one day course designed to provide a basic knowledge of bowling green maintenance. The course enables the Groundsman to grasp the basic needs of a bowling green surface, either Flat or Crown, throughout a 12 month period.
Delegates attending the Bowling Green course and using the accompanying manual will be able to develop their own skills, working knowledge and expertise, by understanding the method of instruction and the maintenance principle it sets out.
Included in the Course Manual, there are working diaries showing the range of tasks needed to be accomplished each month. The Course Manual is available for purchase separately.
Our next public course is taking place in Dorset on Wednesday 26th March - more details can be found here.
In addition, we are able to arrange courses to be delivered on site to groups of 6 – 10 people. Email Chris Johnson for information.
Perimeter fences and hedges: 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.
Repairs: carry out any repairs to ditches, paths, gates, floodlights and other building features. Ideally, you should have your floodlights serviced on an 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.