Grass seed mixtures for Bowling Greens
There are few grasses that can tolerate mowing below 5mm for any period of time so the correct choice of species is vital. Bent grasses will perform best under these conditions, followed by Slender Creeping Red Fescue and Chewings Fescue.
The weed grass Poa annua (annual meadow grass) can also tolerate these condition, so it is important to oversow every year with the appropriate seed mixture to try to maintain and improve the overall sward composition.
The traditional seed mix to use is an 80:20 or 70:30 of Fescue and Bent grass. These types of mixture will usually produce a sward of approximately 50% of each species. The bent grass should be the Capillaris type e.g. Sefton rather than Highland which is an old traditional variety that has been used for many years - the overall performance of the newer cultivars is far higher. A 100% bent grass mixture which contains more than one cultivar can also be used.
The oversowing of the bowling green should be carried out as part of the annual maintenance which takes place after the season ends. This operation should be completed while conditions are favourable.
The Germination stage
There are a number of factors that can affect the germination and final results of the overseeding operation on bowling greens and these are -
1. Suitable conditions when sowing - adequate soil temperature and moisture
2. A well prepared surface that has been scarified thoroughly to remove thatch, all organic material and weed grass
3. An appropriate aeration programme to improve overall growing conditions.
4. Apply seed using a suitable seeding machine
5. Correct seed rate - 10-25g/m2
6. Sowing depth - 4-7mm Fescue/Bent or in contact with the surface rootzone for 100% Bent grass mixtures
7. Provision of adequate irrigation
8. Careful monitoring of seedling diseases
9. Use of good quality seed
10. Mowing height of seedling grasses
The correct care of newly established sward is vital to the final success of the overseeding operation. The factors to be considered here are:
1. Supply of irrigation if needed and suitable fertiliser programme
2. Suitable mowing regime that encourages tillering while keeping stress to the minimum on the new grasses.
3. Monitoring and controlling diseases and weeds
By Matt Gresty, Amenity Sales Manager, Advanta Seeds www.advantaseeds.co.uk