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LAWN BOWLING GREEN CONSTRUCTION

The requirements of Lawn Bowling Greens is unique in the field of sports turf. They have a requirement to be 100% flat, while having good drainage, have a good healthy grass cover, a need for speed and be able to take a lot of usage - all of this on a restricted budget, as generally Lawn Bowling Clubs operate on restricted budgets.

Before construction can commence some decisions need to be made in relation to the makeup of the green. The one off most important decision is in relation to the growing medium of the green, in other words what will be used to grow the grass in. Generally speaking the growing medium should be a free draining material, with good moisture and nutrient holding properties. The best way to know if your preferred growing medium is suitable for use is to have it sent away to a certified laboratory for testing. The laboratory will carry out certain tests in relation to air space within the soil, its drainage capacity, its compaction capability, and its moisture holding capacity all with the aim of predicting its ability to grow grass in a Lawn Bowling green situation when placed under pressure. A secondary test that the lab will carry out is the soil nutrient status including its current nutrient status, including its organic content and its ability to hold nutrients. Once the tests have been carried out the soil will be analyzed to see if it falls into the ideal range for turf construction and the lab will recommend if it is suitable for use.

Drainage is another consideration for the green that must be looked at during the planning stages. The movement of water into the green and down through the green's profile is crucial not only to ensure that bowls matches are not effected through green closure, but to ensure that the green does not remain wet for prolonged periods effecting the health of the turf and closure of the green. As long as the growing medium itself is a free draining material, it is only a matter of designing and installing a drainage system that can discharge the water out from underneath the green. There are multiple options when it comes to drainage design and should be designed to meet the requirements of each individual site.

Like all other turf constructions, it is important that the sub-base work is carried out in a way that it is cable of supporting the installation of the drainage and growing medium, ensuring that there will be no movement of the sub-base in the future. Whatever the depth of growing medium is chosen, the sub-base should be excavated and leveled below the chosen depth. Depending on the designer's preference the sub-base can either be flat or have a sideways fall on it to direct water into the installed drainage - studies have shown it does not matter a great deal if the base is flat or has a fall, the drainage will work equally well either way.

Undoubtedly one of the most important factors in maintaining quality Lawn Bowling Green's is the correct management and scheduling of irrigation. Based on this, serious thought should be given to the planning and installation of an irrigation system in a new green. Due to the shape of the bowling greens it is very difficult to design an irrigation system that will give a 100% even distribution of water over the whole area. The consultation of an experienced irrigation designer is important to ensure that the best possible outcomes are achieved. Other important aspects need to be considered including water availability, water quality, pumping system and pipe work.

Once all other perimeters of the green have been covered, the laying of the growing medium needs to be planned for and carried out. The two main factors that needs to be adhered to when laying the growing medium is to ensure no prior work is disturbed and ensure that the growing medium is laid in layers of no more than 150mm to ensure that it does not sink or move at a later date. Usually, the growing medium will be placed using heavy earth moving equipment , and roughly leveled out using a skid steer loader (with tracks) or an excavator assisted by laborers. Once placed, each of these layers should be rolled using a 4x4 tractor with wide tires (moving across the area slowly in all directions) to consolidate the green and watered to firm the surface. During the laying of the growing medium every effort should be made to get the green's levels as close to finished level as possible. One of the most crucial tasks in completing a new green is the final leveling of the surface - a Lawn Bowls Green must be 100% flat with no surface fall whatsoever. There are many manual methods that have been used successfully over the years, however, an easier, more effective method to level a bowling green is the use of a machine mounted laser level - a laser level is a process of smoothing the green's surface flat from its average level using laser-equipped drag blade. This practice uses large horsepower tractors and soil movers that are equipped so that the soil can be moved either by cutting or filling to create the desired level.

Selecting a suitable grass for a Lawn Bowling Green should not be taken lightly - a turf variety needs to be selected that has a proven track record on bowling greens, is cable of handling the stresses of bowling greens (low cutting height, moisture stress, compacted soils, high wear) regardless if the grass type is of a warm or cool season nature it doesn't matter as long as it is suitable to that environment, ensuring the selected grass can handle the local conditions, and it has good recovery abilities. Generally speaking, the grasses that fit these requirements are both stoloniferous and rhizomes. It is easily possible to fail the construction or reconstruction of a bowling green through choosing the wrong grass species.

 

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