Home Bowls How to Treat and Prevent Dry Patch on Turf

How to Treat and Prevent Dry Patch on Turf

by TurfCareBlog

How to Treat and Prevent Dry Patch on Turf, looks at the how and what’s of dry patch with some l hope some useful information.

What does dry path look like and how to identify it?

Brown and often isolated patches of dying grass, surround by live grass. The area becomes hydrophobic and in turn does not allow water to impede the soil. Instead puddles or water particles beads appear, rather than spread. A waxy residue prevents water infiltration into the soil.

The soil is, as named overly dry where the fungi is most present. Closely associated with another turf disease, fairy rings. The fungi attaches itself to soil/rooting/thatch.

The fungi are naturally occurring in soils, it’s a disease of the soil not the grass plant and affected soils can become impossible to re wet.

More typically found on sandy soils.

What looks like dry patch, but probably isn’t?

  • Dog/fox urine spots or even fuel spills.
  • Turf browning could possible damage from pests eating the roots.
  • General turf heat stress/drought.
  • The difference between the above and dry patch is dry patch will not allow water to absorb past the grass canopy into the soil. It is more likely for the water droplets to bead or puddle on the surface rather than soak in.

What are the contributing factors to getting dry patch?

One of the main contributing factors, is in controlling of the soil’s moisture reserves i.e., trying to never allow the soil to dry out and with even watering across pitches, possible use of moisture meters can assist in this.

Thatch levels and compaction have very close links also in the prevention of dry patch and in general good grass and soil health. Thatch management via grooming, verticutting and scarification all help prevent the build up of grass plant litter, which can lead to thatch.

How do we treat and prevent it?

  • Low thatch and compaction levels as indicated above.
  • Maintaining a consistent moisture level across pitches.
  • An appropriate fertiliser regime, put together based on the grass plant’s annual requirements.
  • A programme of the use of wetting agents from march onwards, to help keep the soil open. These can come in liquid and even granular and will break down over a set period, you can also buy tablet to add to irrigation tanks. Only use non ionic wetting agents on cricket squares.
  • Dry patch is often more apparent on high areas, so where possible maintain and restore surface levels. Dry patch is also often more apparent at the stop of slopes etc, which dry out quicker or water struggles to impact.
  • Possible aeration (not cricket in season) watering can help water into the soil.
  • Curative treatment as time of grass plant browning, but as always, a preventative programme would be much more effective.
  • Soil exchange and removal of fungi within the soil and exchanging, via hollow coring on sandy soils. Worth exploring as a last result but l would research this further first.
Wetting agents come in the form of granules, liquid and tablets (as above)


Hydrophobic soil – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrophobic_soil

Fairy Rings – https://www.rhs.org.uk/biodiversity/fairy-rings

Wetting agents – https://www.britannica.com/technology/wetting-agent

My Own Experience as a Grounds Person

Square-purpose made hose gun hose attachments and trying month applications of a non-ionic agent in our net area.  Managing moisture level is a struggle but is an ongoing battle, especially when the soil needs more moisture when cricket is at its busiest.

Outfield- Taking the height of cut up, with less cutting can all help remove some stress from the plant. We also hand water the permitter of our square, when we water. This ensures at least part of the run ups stay green and the soil (sandy) holds upon bowling.


Three key takeaways

  • Manage soil moisture levels.
  • Keep thatch levels as manageable as possible.
  • Identify what is dry patch and what is other turf disorders.

As a fellow Grounds Person or Greenkeeper, what is your experience with dry patch any comments would be well received in the below comments box.

Link to a blog on fairy rings on cricket squares – https://turfcareblog.com/soil-temperatures-for-fairy-rings-cricket-edition/

Link to a blog on dry patch success on a bowls green – https://turfcareblog.com/my-six-steps-to-beating-dry-patch-on-my-bowls-green/

Take a look at this blog from a bowls greenkeeper, on dry patch om his greens – https://turfcareblog.com/my-six-steps-to-beating-dry-patch-on-my-bowls-green/

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