Deep aeration relief for Broadway Bowling Club

Once a croquet lawn and tennis courts, the Cotswold based Broadway Bowling Club opened its doors in 1919. Sitting in beautifully maintained grounds with views towards the Cotswold escarpment, the gently sloping banks of herbaceous flower borders and hedging change through the seasons.

In 2021 the changeable weather brought matters to a head for Dennis Hall, Broadway’s Greenkeeper of ten years. Increasingly, the green was suffering from standing water after heavy rain, with one area getting progressively worse. Even in dry periods, it was noted the ground was frequently ‘mushy’ when the mower went through the area. It was apparent that some deep aeration was needed. 

Deep aeration
Green under water at the bowling club

South Warwickshire sports grounds construction and maintenance company, Avonmore Associates, regularly maintain the green with a regime of spiking and aeration. They suspected a deeper problem. As happens with many older bowling greens, the sheer volume of play over the years, combined with the substrate of the original construction, leads to compaction at a depth not reached by normal aeration. In Broadway’s case, there are mixed areas of stone and clay with insufficient release of standing water built up over time.

Avonmore suggested using Terrain Aeration, with whom they have worked on a number of projects, to bring in their Terralift machine to provide one metre deep aeration. At this depth, the ground is usually so compacted it requires fracturing to open up fissures and allow drainage. Terrain Aeration’s Terralift system works on the principle of hammering a hollow probe through the soil using a JCB road breaker gun, and compressed air is released up to 20Bar (280psi). At the end of the air blast, they inject dried seaweed, which sticks to the fissure walls. This expands and contracts with the moisture in the soil to keep the area breathing. Working to a grid with approximately two metre spacings allows the Terralift to create interlinked cracks and fissures deep underground to carry away the water. The 1.5-inch probe holes on the green are backfilled with Lytag aggregate and covered with topsoil, making it playable almost immediately.

The work at the Broadway Bowling Club was carried out in November 2021 and to date Dennis Hall reports that they have had several periods of heavy downpour and the deep aeration has done the trick with no standing water to halt play.