Get your bowling green ready for the new season.
Mid to late March.
This is the crucial time for getting the green ready for the new season. It is essential to be ready for the first real signs of Spring, in the north of the UK and Europe usually around mid to late March, up to two weeks beforehand further south.
As soon as there is a mild spell in March the grass is keen to get moving, to recover from Winter stresses. This is when the main Spring fertiliser should be applied. I have always found a high nitrogen fertiliser, with a high iron content, works best in these lower temperatures. The Spring fertiliser on our lawnsforyou.com shop, 9.0.0 + 11% iron, is an ideal starter for bowling greens. Find others here.
It is possible to make your own by mixing two parts sulphate of ammonia, one part sulphate of iron, and five parts dried sand, and applying at 35 grams per square meter. Get here. To make this mix even more effective add one part seaweed meal, a great soil conditioner. Get here.
The cutting height should be dropped by one mil at this stage, which should take the mowing height to around 6mil, and cutting frequency up to twice per week. Do not use groomers if fitted to the mower.
Early April till opening day.
Scarifying is required in early April to remove the dead moss. Scarifying also opens up the grass sward by removing dead and dying material, which forms thatch. Ideally a thatch control reel should be used, not a thatch removal reel, which can be overly aggressive for Spring use.
A wetting agent, along with seaweed liquid, both found here, or contact us for a quote, should be applied after the scarifying.
A week or so before opening day lower the cutting height to 5.5mil, and cut three times over the next week, then lower again to 5mil for mowing on opening day. Continue to mow at least three times per week. It is a fact that more regular cutting produces better, more uniform, playing surfaces. Most top class facilities now mow at least every day, and often double cut for tournaments.
I have not yet mentioned rolling, which can be a contentious subject. This is because most clubs do not have access to a suitable roller, that is a dual or triple push or ride on roller, which rolls evenly and minimises compaction. The old Australian roller was very common on bowling greens, and does a good job, as does the new ride on rollers, which can be hired for special occasions.
Rollers can increase speed, without reducing cutting heights, thereby reducing stress on the grass. My own feeling is that very regular mowing, with a well set mower, will provide surfaces suitable for most bowling clubs.
If the above instructions are followed, the bowling green should be in good condition, and ready for play commencing on the club opening day.
For ongoing advice, have a look at my other articles on this site covering a full years bowling green maintenance. I can also provide a service which would give a personalised report on individual greens, along with all the materials required for the year.