June Maintenance

How any bowling green looks and performs will be down to the amount of work put in by the groundstaff and this is often in turn defined by the resources they have - products and services.

The more modern and effective equipment you can use, generally the better, particularly as we are now entering the period when UK grass growth reaches its peak so mowing frequency is vital - as long as there is enough moisture in the soil.

Key tasks this month include:

  • Feeding, aerating, watering and grooming the grass plant
  • Power brushing and verticutting the sward to stand up any straggly grass and to enable a fresher, cleaner cut
  • Light scarification of the playing surface every three or four weeks which can speed up the green
  • Checking areas where dew is absent for any signs of stress or dry patch
  • Correctly watering. This is essential so make sure you are watering to a consistent depth so the sward does not become dry and hydrophobic

Mowing is the most important thing this month - keep the grass mown between 4 and 6mm so you don't stress the grass overly.

For tournaments and finals, make sure to double cut the green in a diamond formation. This type of cut removes more grass from the same area but without forcing you to reduce the cutting height. Your choice of mower will often determine the quality of cut.

Irrigating is also important, so check your watering systems to make sure they are working effectively and uniformly watering the green. Key to watering is understanding what the grass plant needs and having excellent knowledge of your soil profile - sandy soils drain more freely than loamy or clay soils. Problems can result from low water pressure or an incorrect sprinkler. Uniformity is key - ideally, soak your green (flood it up) and let it dry out over a few days.

Fertilisation. Most will now apply a summer N P K fertiliser, perhaps something of the order 12:0:9, but reducing the N and P inputs to maintain stable and balanced growth throughout the month. One thing you can try is a slow release fertiliser to see you through July and August. Your choice of material and its efficacity will depend on factors like soil type and weather. Moisture and air temperature are catalysts for growth.

Always make sure there is enough moisture in the soil that will activate whatver fertiliser product you use. Liquid feeds are better at getting into the plant, especially when used as a foliar feed.

Continue seeding sparse or bare areas as increased soil and air temperatures will help germination. Germination sheets can be used to aid the process but remove them regularly and check for disease.

Usually, you carry out topdressing in spring and autumn as part of your renovation programmes, but some clubs do apply a topdressing policy during the season. Make sure to source appropriate material that is compatible with the existing rootzone materials of your green. You certainly don't want to encourage any rootbreaks in the green.

Agronomy

Get ahead of dry patch with a wetting agent. Prevention is much better than the cure so apply when the soil is still moist.

You should by now be in the middle of your feeding programmes but regularly apply SeaAction seaweed and BioMass Sugar as this is vital to helping the plant function, tolerate stress and its biology. You can use these liquids to supplement existing granular feeds at specific times, such as competitions or in between maintenance operations.

If you haven't already done so, check your irrigation system to make sure it is working accurately and correctly.

All turfcare professionals should be monitoring the performance of their playing surface and modern technology greatly assists you these days as well as more standard tools and a camera.

For some years now, the turf industry has been promoting the use of Performance Qualify Standards (PQS) to ascertain the standard of sport pitch maintenance.

Of vital importance is surveying and measuring the performance of your facilities, and this is where modern technology is your friend. You can now measure many different aspects of the bowling green to guarantee it meets the standards it needs to, or those laid down by any governing bodies.

These can include measuring sward height, composition of grass species, soil temperature, weed content, levels over a 3m level, hardness and infiltration rates (porosity) of the soil zone.

We have also recently seen the development of GPS mapping devices that measure chlorophyll, moisture content and deviation in levels. Use soil tests to help determine soil type, nutrient status of the soil, organic matter content, CEC capacity and soil pH.

Keeping records of these parameters will give you a better understanding of what is happening within your playing surface and give you the tools to make the best possible decisions about what you need to do to best maintain the green and keep it playing well.

Weeds, pests and diseases

Make sure you are brushing and sweeping regularly to keep the surface clean, open and dry. A dry surface will be more effective at resisting disease. Watch out for fungal disease attack and if you spot any, use approved fungicides to treat the infected areas.

Fusarium is usually prolific and can severely scar surfaces. Again, use approved fungicides to deal with it but as the grass begins to grow, the scars will grow out quite quickly.

Prominent on greens at the moment are fairy rings. Stimulate grass growth by using a dose of feed or liquid iron to mask their appearance.

As soil tempratures rise, worm activity will increase because the soil stays moist. You may need to apply an approved product to control this activity.

Any broadleef weeds can be controlled by a selective weed killer but the timing of application is crucial - make sure you apply when the weed growth is vigourous.

Machinery & Materials

By now your mower should have been serviced and sharpened ready for the new season. Keep machines clean and overhauled, inspect and repair irrigation systems, keep checking and servicing floodlights and replace any worn tines on your aeration equipment.

Make sure you keep a stock of seed and topdressing available to fill in any bare patches as required.

 
 
Dennis Mowers