The Groundsman

November 2015

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AHEAD OF THE GAME 22 the Groundsman November 2015 Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions rown Green competitions are hosted by Cradley Heath Liberal Bowling Club several days and nights each week during a season that starts in earnest in mid-April for the West Midlands club, which plays in the King's Swinford and Oldbury leagues. Head groundsman Barry Hardwick, a member for 30 years, knows all about how a continuing commitment to greens maintenance is necessary to keep the surface in prime condition for such an intense programme - unlike flat green equivalents, Cradley Heath's green can stage up to four games simultaneously. And as captain of one of the home sides, Barry's expectations for perfect turf are C Life-saving turf treatments for bowls Cradley Heath Liberal Bowling Club's head groundsman Barry Hardwick describes how a non-stop greens maintenance programme keeps his playing surface in prime condition By: Mike King every inch as high as his team mates'. Bents and fescues predominate to withstand the wear and tear, with regular overseeding to help eliminate the Poa Annua that causes so many headaches. "I'd worked on the green throughout the winter and it looked great," Barry recalls. "Cutting the sward to 10mm then down to 4 or 5mm that play dictates by the end of April." But a weather pattern of warm days and cold nights damaged the turf balance, creating bad patches, which delayed the development of the green to its optimum state. Like all fine turf, the green requires a year-round maintenance regime that includes regular brushing, Verticutting, mowing and application of wetting agents, fungicide and fertiliser. Barry relies on the services and support of Ian Corcoran of amenity distributor, WFS Border, to develop a comprehensive year- round programme and, over the past five years, Ian has fine-tuned the fertiliser and maintenance regime – after a soil test to analyse the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, a balanced fertiliser programme was derived. "We have total control of what we apply to the green," says Barry, "and we know what's working. Both Vitax granular and liquid feeds and supplements are used in the programme, along with a monthly application of wetting agent." As part of Barry's water management programme, the wetting agents help improve the penetration and uniform distribution of water into the soil rootzone. They also help reduce water usage and aid the uptake of nutrients, while reducing the risk of Dry Patch. In October, when play has stopped, the annual renovation comprises scarifying, spiking, overseeding, topdressing and the application of Vitax pre-seed fertiliser. This is followed, eight weeks later, by fortnightly cutting and spiking, providing there is no frost. If icy weather stays away, the work on the green continues for 52 weeks a year. "You can have a perfect surface one year then the weather can strike to ruin your work," Barry states. "We seldom if ever have two seasons the same. Turf diseases such as Dollar Spot, Red Thread and Fusarium can all invade the green so I am forever keeping a vigilant eye out for attacks." Mike King is sales & marketing manager at Vitax Amenity - www.vitax.co.uk l Barry Hardwick's maintenance regime includes the application of wetting agents, fungicide and fertiliser

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