Sunday, May 15, 2011

I fought the lawn and the lawn won

You're mad, upset, frustrated, weed-infested and ready to pull out your turf as well as what's left of your hair and it isn't even the end of May.

I feel your pain brothers and sisters. You're not the first person to complain about weeds and threaten to pave over your grass with concrete and paint it green.

The good news is, it's never too late to start with a program and do something to improve the curb appeal that has abandoned you since the bylaw came into effect.

Depending on your situation this might mean a soil test. Understand what is going on in the soil and you can fix the problems. Many times I'll show up to assess a lawn and there is something going on in the soil that I can't see, but I know is wrong. A soil test will analyse the soil and take all the guess work out. It will let you know if the ph is too high, or low. It will register the amount of organic matter, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium in the soil and how to fix it.
Let science be your panacea for about $40.

Or perhaps your lawn isn't that far gone and you simply want to fight a decent fight?
There are products available to help you out whether you do it yourself, or call the professionals.

For the D.I.Y.s there's Weed-B-Gone a dumbed down version of the Fiesta the pros use. It does work provided you spray to the point of run-off on the target weed. Yet, be aware this product is not systemic and the weed will push through again. That's why it is important to spray twice within 30 days of application to get effective control. Unlike the old methods where you had to wait weeks before seeding, Fiesta allows you to do so a few days after application.

As far as grubs are concerned? Right now forget about it. They are done feeding and going into the instar phase. No more damage will be evident until late July, early August when the new eggs hatch and the grubs start to feed. Plus even if you were to put down your nematodes, the grubs are too big to control effectively at this time of the year. So seed the damaged areas and wait it out until August when you can ambush the new larvae.

A healthy, thick lawn is the best defense against all; grubs, weeds, turf disease, and over-seeding is your golden ticket to achieving this goal. However, be careful in the Spring if you are using Corn Gluten as a pre-emergent/ fertilizer. This application will help suppress crabgrass and new weeds but it also impedes good seed from germination.

My advice is to wait until the fall if you are using this product on your lawn, otherwise, you are not going to be able to seed again until the end of June and that could be a tough sell for any seed.

One further note about Corn Gluten: Think of this application (approx. 20lbs per 1,000 sq. ft.) as a shield on your lawn that will protect it when the dandelions go to seed. Whatever you do, don't aerate the lawn after you've applied the corn otherwise you punch holes in that shield and render the application useless. Wait until the Fall for your Core aeration and use it in conjunction with your seeding.

You may not win the war, but you can win a few battles.


  1. May 16 and too late for nematodes? I am in greater Toronto area. I was ready to get some, as it will rain all week, perfect to get at deep down grubs.

    Please say its not too late.

  2. On a later post I'll discuss nematodes , but yes, forget putting nematodes down in the Spring, you are just wasting your money. The grubs are too big to control effectively and the little buggers will soon be entering the instar phase and stop feeding anyway. Wait until mid August and apply then.