Sunday, July 24, 2011

See spot run

Hopefully with this weather we've been having you've still been watering the lawn- one deep watering a week is sufficient, or about 1" worth.

And I trust everyone has their mowing height at the highest possible setting if you're even cutting it at all? Three inches will keep your lawn drought tolerant and able to survive the dormancy that comes with the Summer heat and lack of rain.

If you haven't been doing this then you probably have seen the crabgrass encroaching, yet again, from the pavement and lawn edges where it oh-so loves the heat.

The bad news is there is nothing that can be done to control it at this time of the year. Dimension and Acclaim are no longer options and Corn Gluten?...well, you're asking a lot from an organic control in these you have crabgrass.

The good news is, crabgrass has a shallow root system, so it's easy to pull up when on the perimeter. However don't let it get to the point of germination, otherwise next year the problem could be a whole lot worse.

The next problem in the heat is Chinch Bug- a top feeding insect that sucks the juice out of your grass rendering it lifeless.

Chinch also love drought and can take out a lawn pretty quick if not dealt with. If you want to know whether you have Chinch, locate a patch of lawn where it is stressed, preferably before 10 AM, and use your fingers to rub the grass vigorously. Then peel back the grass blades to the soil and look if you can see either the nymphs, (black with red on their backs), or the adults, (black with white on their wings).

Ways to combat this insect are to keep the lawn watered and the thatch layer to a minimum (aerate/ rake). I would have said Neem Oil but....oh yeah that organic has now been banned by the PMRA.

Now are you ready for the catch 22 of this whole situation?

So you've been watering regularly, the grass is a decent length, there's no sign of Chinch and the crabgrass is minimal or non existent. You're pretty pleased with your effort until you see signs of Grub damage- a circular brown patch in the middle of the lawn that isn't responding to water and seems to come up like a carpet because the root system is gone.

The beetles have to lay their eggs somewhere and they'll have better success in a nice juicy lawn like yours over one that is burnt to a crisp, dry and hard like concrete.

Unfortunately the only options here are to watch your lawn disappear to an all you can eat grub Thanksgiving, or apply nematodes.

However, know this; the earliest an application can be done is mid August, it has to be performed in rainy/cloudy conditions, or at dusk because UV will kill the microscopic nematodes.

Oh, and you must, must, must water for three days following the application to effectively flush your nematodes into the root zone.

If you're going to do it yourself, be aware of expiration dates and the nematodes must remain refrigerated until, no wonder people tell me they don't work.

Do all this and grubs shouldn't be a problem and you won't have raccoons and skunks digging the hell out of your lawn either.

Yet, there is one way to help combat all this, but it will take time. Over seed every fall with an endophytic grass seed, preferably one that will establish a deep root system and is drought tolerant like Eco Lawn.

Even with all this there are no guarantees anymore. All it takes is one misstep and with Mother Nature tripping horribly over the last two years we might as well turn to Lady Luck after all it couldn't get any worse....right?

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