September Maintenance

With the Bowls season coming to an end this month, you will be looking at finishing your final month of regular maintenance on the greens - brushing, cutting and preparing the surfaces for matches and practice. However, your main concern will be organising your end of season renovation work. 

In order to carry out the relevant renovation work, it is best to try and obtain and examine turf and soil profiles. Take a couple of core samples from your green and see what lies below the surface - you should be able to see how much thatch you have and the also condition of the soil.

Once you have the relevant detail of what works need to carried out, one of the deciding factors that often reduces the success of these planned works, is the budget the club has available for the renovations. A contractor may cost anything between £1200 - £1500 and although savings can be made by doing the work yourselves, its effectiveness will be determined by the equipment you have to do the work. 

During autumn renovations the following activities are usually carried out in the following order, allowing for the appropriate conditions. Obviously, some of the operations may vary from green to green depending on the wear and condition at the end of the season.

Mowing – ideally, you should lower the cutting height to around 3-4mm to prepare your green for renovation. Once the scarifying has been done, you can also use the mower to collect any debris from the surface. Once the green has been put to bed for winter, you will only need to mow to maintain a winter height of cut at 8-12mm. 

Scarification – once you have determined the acuteness of any thatch issue, you can decide how much to scarify  - several times and/or in several different directions. Mostly though, if you have carried out frequent verticutting/grooming during the growing season, you should only need to scarify in two directions. Remember not to scarify at right angles to the previous scarification direction and to scarify at a depth of between 4-15mm, depending on the depth of thatch needed to be removed.

Aeration - Depending on the condition of the turf, you should implement hollow or solid tine spiking. Generally, hollow tines are used when you have a severe thatch problem and the depth of aeration is determined by the depth of your soil profile and what issues you want to alleviate - Hollow tining achieves best results to a depth of between 75-100mm. Solid or slit tines can be set to penetrate deeper between 150-200mm.

Topdressing - always make sure you are using compatible topdressing materials, sands, sand/soil mixes. Spreading is best carried out in dry weather conditions and can be done by pedestrian or ride-on, disc or drop action top spreaders, or by hand using a shovel and a barrow. Spread uniformly, brush in with a lute or drag brush/mat to restore levels.

Overseeding – make sure that a good groove or hole is made to receive the seed as good seed to soil contact is essential for seed germination. Germination should be between 7-14 days in right weather conditions and temperatures.

Fertilising – application of a low N nitrogen fertiliser product, something like an NPK 5:5:15 to assist the sward throughout the autumn season.

Irrigation – watering (natural is best) is vital after renovations to ensure your seed germinates.


It is the best time of year for aeration, especially deeper forms of solid tine such as verti-draining, and for decompaction. In September, the grass plant is releasing its seed whilst there is plenty of warmth and moisture available, which gives great conditions for germination and successful establishment. Good soil contact and the right planting depth, are also key to the success with seeding, and you should ideally allow for natural rainfall to firm the soil around the seed. If you have access to machinery, disc seeding is a very reliable method of increasing germination  rates, as the precise planting depth can be more accurately controlled into the slots, which then close up nicely behind to provide firm soil contact.

You should keep an eye out for disease pressure, in September, as it is a key time for infection with the warmth and moisture coinciding. Brushing and switching are a key method of cultural control at this time. Chemically, it is warm enough to use a fungicide as a preventative in the lead up to any operations, especially if environmental factors are conducive to disease.

September also provides a great opportunity for weed control, due to plenty of available moisture and warmth leading to good growth. In terms of fertilisers, selecting a fertiliser with a lower nitrogen and higher potassium content is advised. 

Weeds, pests and disease

Red thread, Fusarioum and Fairy rings are the common diseases on bowling greens in September. 

Keep an eye out for fungal disease issues and apply approved fungicides to treat diseased areas.

Brushing and sweeping are key tasks to keep the surface clean, open and dry. A dry surface will assist wth resistance to disease.


Always make sure that your equipment is stored safe and secure, well serviced and clean after use.

Top up your material stocks (seed, topdressing, petrol, oil), as and when required.

Dennis Mowers