The bowling green has been worked on over the last year with renovations being carried out in the Autumn 2019 and Spring 2020. At the start of 2019 the green was in a really poor state due to the weather. There was a lot of moss across the green which was raked out in early Spring 2019. This had the effect of creating large areas of bald patches and bumpy runs across the green. It was not a fun green to play on as it did not run and bowls were easily bumped of track. This was not the green it used to be as members kept reminding me. The main task was to find out what was wrong with the green which meant taking a soil sample. I used 2 companies to do this the first one was done by Pitchcare. They did a basic soil chemical analysis. This showed that the green was lacking in potassium and recommended Maxwell Bullet Potassium Nitrate which was spread evenly over the whole of the green. The 2nd soil chemical analysis was carried out by Bowls Central later on in the year. This was a more in depth analysis which also came with a full report and a comprehensive green keeping program for the green. The green started to respond some weeks later. By the end of 2019 season the green was playing well with most of the patches disappearing.
The end of year renovations in 2019 took place and this involved raking out the old grass as well as the moss. The green was then hollow-tyned using half inch tines. The plugs were then brushed up using the autorake machine. Unfortunately this machine broke down and 3/4 of the green had to be done the old fashioned by hand using shovel and barrow. Thanks must go to those who helped out on the day. Once the plugs had been removed the green was re-seeded using MM8 from Pitchcare. The year previously we had used Johnson's Nitro Pro which was not a great success. MM8 took well to the green and grew quickly. This was helped with a program of feeding and using Hydrate in the spray mix. The Hydrate was used mainly because the soil was poor in its quality and the green suffered from large swathes of dry patch. The grass was struggling to germinate in these areas. After few weeks the green started to look really well and the grass had grown into the bald areas.
There was still a lot of work to do in the closed season. It does amaze me that people do think that when the green is 'put to bed' in the Autumn that nothing else is done to it till the Spring. In the Winter months tyning was continued with the slot and half inch solid tines. This was done once every 4 weeks. The green was also cut usually every 2 to 3 weeks depending on the weather. I would of used the autorake with verti-cutting blades in but this machine was in for repair (engine blew up).
Just when I thought we had turned a corner and the green was looking good we had problems with the wildlife especially the big birds like Magpies and Common Ravens.
They dug quite a number of holes which looked like something a fox or dog would dig but birds tend to go back to the same place looking for food especially tasty chafer grubs (more on that later on). As you can see the holes are quite big and deep. This is in part due to the removal of the thick layer of thatch that used to be present.
The holes above were filled in and re-seeded they are now starting to recover but only after a lot time and effort was put in. The birds that were digging were looking for food namely the chafer grubs which have infested some parts of our green. They are big and juicy hence why the wildlife prefer them to the ordinary worms and other insects.
There is a good article here on how to get rid of these pests. I intend to purchase some chafer beetle traps just to give us an idea of the problem we have on the green. Then in late August early September I intend to spray the infected areas with Nemasys which not cheap and only available at certain times of the year. Hopefully this will cure the problem. Now this is where Harry the Hawk comes in. We have tried all sorts of humane methods to stop the birds pecking at the green. Rubber snakes, silver compact discs on sticks, flailing strips of plastic which make a noise all to no avail. So now comes Harry. We have two spots for him in fact 3 if you include the middle of the green. I am told it is best if you keep him moving around so that the birds don't get used to him. We shall see as I have a camera trained on the spot where they like to congregate.
Harry the Hawk
I will keep you informed on how he green is keeping over the next few months.