Monday, June 29, 2015

Here comes the crabgrass...

Every year at this time we start to field calls about crabgrass.

Crabgrass loves the heat, especially around pavement, interlocking and anywhere the sun exposure is at a maximum on your lawn. Smooth crabgrass is light green in colour and can ruin the uniform appearance of your turf almost over night.

I wish I had better news for you concerning this weed, but I don't. There is no post-emergent crabgrass control on the market in Ontario.
What about pre-emergent?
You can waste your money on corn gluten every April/May if you want, but after giving it the old college try for a few years when the by-law was implemented, I would not be one of those people.
Corn gluten is expensive, must go down at 20lbs per 1,000 square feet, only works for about six weeks until you get crabgrass no.
We already give the best instruction to our customers at the beginning of every season when we advise raising the mower height to two and a half inches and by June to three inches. This helps keep the soil temperature cooler and the spread of this weed less likely.
For the most part, the lawns we see with crabgrass are, generally, cut too short.
Still, there are no guarantees and unless you want to pull relentlessly until this annual weed dies-off in the fall, there aren't any alternatives.

That is why mowing height is so important along with over-seeding every fall. Create a strong and healthy root system able to withstand the crabgrass invasion and you'll be much happier when Mother Nature brings the heat.

Monday, June 8, 2015

I spy...

...with my little eye, something that is yellow.

Really, there's no need to guess. I'll tell you it's Birdsfoot Trefoil.

"So what", you might say, "Big deal!"

It actually is a big deal. This is a weed that is nature's calling card for something more devious and devastating --- Chinch bug, and yes I am starting to see signs of feeding on some lawns.

Remember the last post about watering your grass? Here is another example why it is so important to keep your turf hydrated. Chinch bug don't like water. They like it hot and dry. When these conditions prevail and you don't water, your lawn is ripe for attack. If the past two years are any indication, we could be in for another rough ride in the summer of 2015.

Make no mistake, this insect's appetite is voracious and it can move PDQ though most lawns.  The damage usually occurs around garden areas, or sidewalks and paved areas. Any area of heat really. With only organic controls available, there's not much one can do to combat this foe. They hide in the thatch layer of your lawn and can be difficult to reach.

Watering I mentioned, but soapy, water-flushes to the damaged area is even better. Sunlight, or Palmolive dish soap mixed with water should do the trick. Some people prefer to cover the affected area with a tarp after watering and wait for the Chinch to cling to the surface of it before removal. However, if you find the area of affliction is of considerable size, this might not be an option.

Please don't waste your money on nematodes, or Met 52 to control Chinch bug as the results will be far from satisfactory. Especially with nematodes, I have not seen one study where these microscopic worms did any damage at all.

Ultimately, over-seeding every fall with endophytic perennial rye grass and fescue is the slowest course of action, but the most effective. Endophytes are a naturally occurring fungus in the seed that help prevent devastation from insects like Chinch bug.

Also, annual aeration to break up the thatch layer is beneficial and should be part of any lawn regimen.  

They may seem like small things to do, but if you do them, chances are far greater you won't have to deal with these small insects in the future.

As for Birdsfoot Trefoil?

So what....big deal!