Friday, February 20, 2009

Choose wisely

There seems to be some preconceived notions out there about Organic and Natural lawn care: These methods have little or no effect.

While it is true that under the new legislation banning pesticides for cosmetic use, there are no quick miracle cures for a weed infested lawn, alternative eco-friendly methods have been proven to work over time when applied as directed.

The reason the process will be slower is because we've spent years creating super weeds and pesticide resistant bugs, so it only stands to reason turning around and swimming back up stream is going to take a little time and could be difficult.

I believe the best defence to keeping your lawn in a visually-pleasing, weed-free paradigm, is education and following the simple steps that have always worked: Regular intervals of fertilization, yearly aeration and over-seeding, proper cutting and dethatching, efficient watering, and spotting troubled areas before they spread.

It sounds like a lot of work and at times, it can be. That's why it is important to choose a sound lawn maintenance program whether through a Lawn Care professional, or if you're a do-it-yourselfer.

Give eco-friendly a chance. It works if you let it and as far as the Provincial Government is concerned, you really have no other options.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sarritor: fact or fiction?

I've been hearing a lot about Sarritor as an effective weed control and thought it was about time to explore this product, since some lawn companies are pushing it as "God's gift to weed control". Let's compare it to other methods of organic weed control.

Sarritor: A product developed by Dr. Allan Watson at McGill University. Sarritor is a naturally occurring fungus. When applied to a broad leaf weed, the fungus will grow into the weed and absorb the plant tissues until the weed is completely gone. Once the weed is gone, the fungus disappears.

Control: Basically for dandelions. Little or no effect on other broad leaf weeds.

Application: Spot treatment.

Time: It usually takes between 5 and 7 days to eliminate the weeds while leaving white fungal blotches on your lawn until weed is gone.

Lawn Flag: Although registered by the PMRA, pesticide signage is needed. So if you were thinking you were going to escape the guilt trip from an eco-conscious neighbour, think again.

What you need to do: Watering is the most important aspect of getting this product to work. Watering the lawn after the application is finished, or as soon as possible, you need to water for a minimum of 15 mins. If rain is not forecasted for the next few days then you may be required to keep the lawn moist for the next few days, to ensure it does not dry out.

Normal mowing practices can be resumed 3 days after the application of Sarritor. Also try to avoid heavy traffic on the lawn for at least 3 days to allow the product to work more effectively.

Cost: The cheapest 1 year program I could find in Durham with this product was $237.15 prepaid for 4,000 square feet of lawn, but did not include aeration.

Turf Maize Pro: Corn Gluten Meal, organic mixture acts as a fertilizer,crab grass pre-emergent, weed inhibitor.

Control: Smooth crabgrass, all broad leaf weeds.

Application: Broadcast in a spreader at 10 lbs per 1,000 square feet. Will leave the lawn looking slightly orange. This product must be applied as a preemergent in the spring and a post emergent in the fall for best result.

Time: Unlike the previous product, the lawns hue will return to normal with precipitation or watering. This is a preventative application and has little or no effect after the weed has established.

Lawn Flag: If applied as a fertilizer, no pesticide sign is needed.

What you need to do: Water this product, or wait for natural precipitation if it is forecast soon after application.

Cost: Approx $249.00 for the season, included 1 application of Turf Maize Pro as well as aeration and over-seeding based on 4,000 square feet.

Traditional methods: Otherwise known as pulling the frickin' weed out by hand.

Control: Everything if you want to spend hours picking it all out.

Application: Spot treatment. A Weed Hound device I find works best. The Fisker weed pullers take too much of your turf.

Time: Although a little more time consuming than Sarritor spot treatment, you don't have to wait for the weed to die. You simply pull it and it's gone as long as you get the root.

Lawn Flag: Regular company flag, or none at all.

What you need to do: Nothing.

Cost: The most budget conscious program I could find with this element in it, was $149.00 prepaid for the year based on 4,000 square feet.

Eco-clear: Organic liquid compound. Works well on driveways and interlocking, but is not recommended for lawn treatment unless you're looking to kill everything around the treated area much like Round-up. Applied in spot treatment usually and is relatively effective on all weed types.

Regardless of what method or product you decide to use the best way to keep your lawn weed-free and healthy is by a sound maintenance regimen of fertilization, over-seeding, aeration, irrigation, dethatching and cutting. If that's not working , you need to have the soil tested, because there are deeper issues at work.