Bowling Green Services at your service

Peter Ainscough and Mark Owen

The summer bowling season has drawn to a close and work is already underway preparing greens for winter and next season.

A new venture started this year sees two enthusiastic green keepers spread their knowledge and expertise. Bowling Green Services, based in Westhoughton Lancashire, already has a list of satisfied customers after they have treated a number greens in the area.

They have a number of specialist pieces of equipment to reduce the workload, let the machine take the strain as they say, and have years of experience in producing top class bowling surfaces.

Half of the material removed from the surface of Horwich RMI

The end of season work is vital to remove material from the green which ensures the quick drainage. The winter weather can see a wet green develop a build up of moss and diseases caused by being consistently wet. The grass will not grow in these conditions and this will lead to problems such as bare-patches in the following season. Use of a special fertiliser will help with grass growth but if the under-soil conditions are not right then you will still have problems develop.

I joined them for their work on Wigan Subscription Club and Horwich RMI club.

Scarifying machine doing its job


I asked Dave Mullen, Steward at Wigan Subs, why they had seen fit to ask Peter and Mark for help. Dave stated the inconsistent speed and surface of the green which had bare patches, was not like previous years, and saw them ask for expert help. Peter and Mark diagnosed compaction and thatch which was leading to an inconsistent playing surface and led to over-cutting at a low level.

A busy couple of days saw 50 barrow loads of waste material removed from the green and seed and 3 tonne of top dressing applied. The application of  top-dressing is normally back-breaking endeavour but the use of the large mechanical spreader sees the entire green completed in less than an hour. Considering the size of the green this is a remarkable achievement.

Top-dressing in action

The Scarifiers, Spiker (using star-tine), seeder and top dressing spreader have all been purchased, and upgraded, and a regular basis to ensure top quality service. Peter and Mark recommend further work during the winter keeping the grass to a consistent height and also a programme of pre-season work using verti-cutter and micro-tining.

Peter and Mark also did work on Horwich RMI which has also suffered from similar complaints of inconsistent pace and also poor drainage.

The results of the star-tining spiker at Horwich RMI

Peter and Mark again scarified the surface and removed two huge piles of waste material before using specialist spiking machines. The Horwich green will also have a programme of work to develop the green over the next couple of years into another sensational playing surface.

The machines used by Peter and Mark are upgraded and they have travelled the length and breadth of the country finding specialist machinery.

The Scarifiers remove thatch from underneath the surface. This is caused by grass cuttings not being picked up by the mower and being trod into the surface and building up over time. This makes it almost impossible to get a firm playing surface and slows the speed of the green down and also makes drainage of rain-water through the green very slow.

The Verti-cutters also helps with thatch build up as well as making the grass stems vertical and ensuring an even cut.

The Spiking machines are adept at braking through the compacted surface and improving drainage. Peter and Mark use different types of spiker which can go down over 5 inches depending on the condition of the green. The Star-tine spiker is a bigger than average and can be used instead of a hollow or solid tine. This depends on the undersoil condition. They allow air to get to the root system, allows water to evaporate from under the surface and vastly improves drainage.

A Slitter is also used for getting air into the green’s root system and dividing the roots.

All the above machines allow air to revitalise the grass root-system, stems and green surface.

Two tonne spreader primed for action

Also used is a two-tonne spreader, which can be used with a drag-mat, which can give an even distribution of top soil. The drag mat removes surface material and ensures the top-dressing fills the holes left by the hollow-tining.

All the above can ease the burden to the green-keeper and vastly reduce the time taken on winter work.

Over the years Peter and Mark have developed Westhoughton Sports Club, known the Reform Club, into one of the best playing surfaces in the game. They have laid new drains to assist with waste water removal as well as using the above machines on a regular basis. This has led to a firm and true playing surface and allows the grass to be kept at a higher, less damaging, height to avoid “scalping” but with no loss of green speed.

The Westhoughton club is still open for members to use and will be until weather determines the green cannot dry. The green will then be closed for some work to be done in time for it to opened for the pairs competition in November. Peter and Mark are confident that the work done regularly assists with having a longer playing season.

Since starting the venture Peter and Mark’s phones have been busy as a number of clubs have been asking for their expert advice and this is happily given by the two bowling enthusiasts.

If you want Peter or Mark to advise on your green please contact them on 07730323869 or 07837493746.




About Steve Davies 171 Articles
Throughout his bowling career Steve has always supported the admin side of the game as well as a keen player of the game. As a club secretary, association secretary, county delegate on the BCGBA (National Governing Body) Management Committee, Media Officer for the BCGBA, Merseyside champion in 2002 and Merseyside County President (2014-15) Steve has always been keen to promote the game especially through the broadcast of the game on TV or Internet. Steve set up the LIVE BOWLS YouTube channel which became the Bowls Observer channel and, through the LDBA, runs national competitions. Seeing an avenue to report on and promote the game Steve set up the Bowls Observer on-line magazine.