Saturday, June 9, 2012

What the H? From chinch to cinch

It certainly has been a strange year of weather and if your lawn has been giving you problems even with a lawn company there to give it a nudge every month, there might be another issue at work.

If it's not green/ healthy and there seems to still be weed issues, you must realize a few things.

1) You, nor I, can control the weather...hell, the weather men can't even predict what is happening day-to-day.  The lack of rain in May and April for that matter has not helped. At least far...has been more cooperative, but if we get another dry spell, the lawn should be watered with 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water per week. Water deeply and infrequently. In other words, it's best to water all at once.

If you don`t know how long that should be, take an empty can, mark it at 1 1/2 and see how long it takes to fill to that level. Then you`ll have a future reference.

It is also a good idea to raise the mowing height to it`s highest level for the summer and grass-cycle.  Which-is-to-say; leave the clippings on the lawn to transfer the nitrogen back into the soil...but do not scalp your grass! Doing so, will only stress the lawn further and lead to other unfortunate issues.

2) Everything is about a month ahead of schedule. That also includes Chinch Bugs. Normally I don`t start to see damage until the end of June. This year I saw the first evidence May 24th...unreal!

Chinch bugs suck the sap from the grass plants so the lawn typically looks dried out. When this happens during a drought, people tend to blame their lack of watering or the hot weather for the poor looking lawn.

Chinch like it hot and like it dry. Damage usually occurs in areas of direct sun, or at lawn edges close to pavement and interlocking. Keeping the lawn hydrated and over seeding religiously with endophytic grass seed can deter this activity.

If you want to know for sure if it`s Chinch, rub the grass vigorously with your fingers, in full sun, near the damaged areas. Peel back the grass blades and you should be able to see them scurrying around. (see picture above)

3) Don`t rule out Leather Jackets, Sod Webworm and White Grubs. They have all been to blame for damage the past few seasons. Most notably Leather Jackets prevented many lawns from greening up this year as they fed on the turf and the raccoons and birds on the lawn told you of other grub issues at work.

June bugs have started to fly and lay eggs, European chafers and Japanese beetles also will lay eggs that will hatch into white grubs that can destroy a lawn in short order.
At the present time, the only solution for grub problems is a nematode application  in mid-August-September...and surprise-surprise...different strains of nematodes are needed to effectively treat various grubs.

Despite what you have been told by some lawn companies and garden centres, applying nematodes outside the Aug.-Sept. window will only get you approximately 30% control. It`s a waste of money and time in my opinion. Yet, those entities are in business to make money and they can always pass the buck and tell you, it`s your fault they didn`t work. No wonder people scoff when I mention this treatment.

4) Weeds have different germination periods. Dandelion may be gone for now but, say hello to chick weed, white clover and crabgrass.

Fiesta weed control will work on these issues except crabgrass, but has to be applied to the point of run-off. With the heat and humidity of the summer already here any application when the temperature moves above 30 degrees can cause more damage to the lawn.

So, on the flip`ve done nothing and the lawn is damaged.


Whether your lawn is thin due to the insects,or whether it is due to neglect, it can be repaired by seeding.

There are several ways to seed a lawn. Adding soil to the surface and seeding is easy to do if it is a small patch or two.
Adding large amounts of soil to large areas become more expensive and involves more work and more weed seeds that are transported back into your lawn.
Personally, I feel it is best to over-seed come fall in conjunction with an aeration especially if we are talking about a large area of turf. It`s the best way to increase the lawn`s density by far.

Fall, starting the 3rd week of August until the end of September is the ideal time to seed lawns. It is the natural way since grasses normally go to seed during the summer and the seed grow and germinate in the fall.

Once repaired you should resume annual maintenance of fertilizer, weed and insect controls and proper cultural practices. Also an annual aeration- preferably every fall- will help in keeping the lawn at its peek health and able to recover from weed and insect infestations.

So don`t just stand there. Make it easier on yourself. First understand the issue. Then act. If it means calling a professional then do it.

Harsh language may make you feel better, but it won`t correct the problem.

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