Wednesday, April 24, 2013's still a dirty word for 2013

Normally this is where I'd start applying corn gluten, but it is missing from our programs this year with exception of the organic package. The reason is, like most other lawn companies out there, we've become fatigued by the song-and-dance of how well this application actually works.

Take for instance last year, an anomaly I know, but the forsythia was blooming 2nd week of April. On a normal year that would be early May and the corn gluten would have to be applied prior to this event.

That are looking at- if you're accurate in your application (20lbs per 1,000 sq. ft. of lawn)- an effectiveness of four to six weeks as a pre-emergent.

Even on a normal year that takes you to early/ mid June. Then we get drought and heat like we've had the past few years and Bingo everyone gets crabgrass. Cue the unhappy customers and the angry calls.

With the few products that are approved for use these days we've had to do some fancy dancing of our own.

Take for instance Nematodes. On the heels of the worst grub damage I've ever seen, you may be tempted to buy a sponge, or two to treat your battered lawn this spring.

Well- Let me just tell you what the Turf Grass Institute says about spring applications.

Grubs are up and feeding now. There isn’t a lot of grub damage per se. The secondary pests such as raccoons, skunks and starlings are doing their usual spring damage to turf that is infested with grubs. As far as control goes, there is very little that can be done this time of year. Last spring Dr. Michael Brownbridge and I conducted a spring applied nematode trial and neither Hb or Steinernema glaseri were effective. To help recovery, rake the dead areas and plan to over-seed in a couple of weeks. Whether it is home lawn turf where you are relying on insect parasitic nematodes or golf course turf where you are relying on traditional pesticide chemistry, now is not the time to control grubs. Make a note of the damaged areas and plan to apply grub control in the mid summer on golf courses or in August for home lawns.

We've also stopped buying product from any supplier whose sole purpose is to make money off people like you and I with products that do not work effectively

So go out and get your 20kg bag and apply it if you wish. Load up on Nematodes. But right now these products are dead weight I can do without.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Today we're on the links

Happy Earth Day.

In previous years I have admittedly spent a little time on my soap box preaching, but I made a commitment to not do that this year.

This blog is meant to be about information regarding lawn care and since I'm not a politician, nor would I choose to be, I  prefer to stay away from that arena.

However, I do believe we are all entitled to as much information as we are willing to handle and for that reason I have chosen to post some links that make for interesting reading to help you formulate your own opinion.

One of the sites I subscribe to is Force of Nature. This is a site with very strong opinions concerning the pesticide ban, but also an excellent source for seeing the truth about the political agenda. I have come to see, sadly, this isn't about protecting the public and creating carcinogens where there weren't any. It isn't about how chemicals are evil and phosphorous in fertilizer may eat your children. It's all about the almighty dollar and who profits the most from these decisions.

Frequently asked questions about the Ontario pesticide ban.

MPP Ted Chudleigh's opinion on the OPB.

Cross-border shopping.

And then there's grubs.

Really, as I see it, you have three choices, do nothing, do it yourself, or have someone do it for you.

As far as the need for lawn care under any prohibition, unless you are really familiar about what to do, or you're cheating with outlawed products, you probably need lawn care more than ever. Sure you could surrender the turf to weeds and insects but we need grass to filter our air and if we lose it to infestations, artificial turf and rock gardens somewhere down the line there will be an impact.

It seems to me, every time someone implements a better mouse trap it ends up creating more problems in the long run. One of my favourite sayings is, "to see eternity in a seed one needs vision rather than eyesight."

Wake up and embrace the vision before all you're left with is hindsight.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The cut above

Maybe it's just me, but I've been having trouble getting motivated for the 2013 lawn season. I understand why that is with the unforgiving weather we've had the past few years. It's like building a beautiful sand castle on the beach with the tide constantly pounding the shoreline and destroying any existence of your efforts.

Eventually, smacking your head against that wall is going to affect your thought process.

So what to do?

Soldier on I guess. But there are things you can do as a homeowner to help and one of the most important practices is raising your mowing height.

Now I understand I'm approaching this subject a little early, but the earlier the better in this instance. I still find it confusing that there are dudes out there still scalping their lawns when they cut it.

Is it they don't know? Laziness perhaps? Memories of chemical days gone by?

Let me ask you this, would you cut off most of your hair and then walk out into the blistering sun without any protection?

Well, your lawn is hair for your property. And like hair, if you don't take care of it, it's not going to look very nice.  Your split ends are simply going to be weeds, drought and insects.

Higher mowing allows for you to grass-cycle and return essential nutrients to your soil. It will also alleviate- hopefully- the chances of you removing too much (no more than 1/3) of the blade of grass and stress your lawn out. You'll find the lawn more drought tolerant in high temperatures.

Mowing at around the 3" mark also helps keep the soil temperature down and potentially the crabgrass/ weed-seed germination to a minimum.

I could go on, but let me just say, keeping your mower on a high setting, blades sharp for a precise cut and changing the direction you cut each time, will create a healthier lawn able to withstand what Mother Nature throws our way.

Perhaps this year we can spend less time kicking over sand battlements and ruining a perfectly good day at the beach. Fingers crossed.