Grub Damage in a Lawn

A Grub Damaged Lawn - Does your lawn look like?

Grub damage in a lawn

It's kind of a bummer when you wake up one day and your lawn is turning brown.  To add insult to injury the local skunks and racoons take up residence in your lawn.  What's going on here?  It's classic White Grub Damage.  You'll notice White Grub damage in Late September and October and it's particularly bad during years when we get a lot of rainfall in July and/or August (or if you water your lawn).  Summer rains attract grubs to your lawn and then keep their eggs hydrated (alive) long enough for them to turn into baby grubs.  Baby grubs are really hungry and can quickly devestate a lawn (like the lawn pictured above).

How to Prevent Grub Damage Without Chemicals

So you don't want your lawn destroyed by grubs, but you don't want to use a chemical to kill them?  There are a lot of good reasons to avoid using the standard grub control chemicals which are linked to many bird deaths and honeybee colony collapse disorder.  In addition, the grub chemicals are typically applied in the spring and sit on the lawn all season long waiting for tiny grubs to show up in the fall.  Who wants your kids or dogs to be playing on a blanket of insecticide? Not me.  Here's the good news, there is a totally non toxic way to prevent grubs from tearing up your lawn, and it's really easy.

Beneficial Nematodes

Nematodes are microscopic soil organisms, as with people, there are good nematodes and bad nematodes.  The good nematodes are called "beneficial nematodes".  Nematodes happen to enjoy making their home on grubs and eventually killing them.  The more good guy nematodes you have in your soil, the fewer issues with white grubs, fleas, and ticks you'll have because the nematodes kill them.  How do you get nematodes in your soil you ask?  It's easy, you can buy dormant nematodes and apply them with a hose end sprayer.

How to Apply Beneficial Nematodes

It's important to apply nematodes for grub control when the sun is not out because exposure to too much sunlight will kill them.  In our lawncare business we try to apply them during days where there is a good chance for rain.  If it's cloudy and rainy, the nematodes will have a chance to get down into the soil before the sunlight gets them.  Think of Nematodes as microscopic vampires who feed only on white grub and other larvae in the soil.  If you're applying them yourself, I would recommend either putting on your raincoat and applying them in the rain, or applying them in the evening as the sun is setting, then setting up a sprinkler to water them into the soil. 

A Hose End Sprayer (Ortho Dial a Mix) is a great way to apply nematodes.  Just dump in the powder add water, shake well and spray away.  Make sure the nematodes are well dissolved before trying to spray or they may clog up your hose end sprayer.  Also, I'd use about 50 million nematodes (enough to treat 5,000 square feet) per hose end sprayer.  If you don't know the size of your lawn, try measuring it on  Set the sprayer for 2 ounces per gallon, and spray 5,000 s.f. multiple times until you're out of nematodes. 

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When to apply Beneficial Nematodes

The best time of year to apply Nematodes to control White Grubs is in the Late Summer or Early Fall.  If you water your lawn regularly I'd recommend applying nematodes in late august.  If you don't water regularly, anytime in September should be ok, but probably the earlier the better. 

How to Fix Grub Damage in a Lawn

Sometimes, skunks and racoons will flip up chunks of sod looking for grubs.  If you catch this in time and lay the sod back down then water it deeply, many times the lawn will recover.  You can apply an organic animal repellent like Nature's Defense or call in an animal trapper to start reducing your critter population.  I prefer to use the repellent because in my neighborhood we could be trapping for a long time before we successfully relocated enough skunks and racoons to make a difference.

If the lawn is just brown and dead looking, you'll probably need to reseed.  The key to successful seeding is seed to soil contact.  One labor intensive way to achieve this is to physically remove all the dead grass and haul it to your compost pile, then scrape up the soil with a garden weasel, seed, and mulch with straw (1 bale per 1000 s.f.). 

Another way might be to order some topsoil and just cover the entire dead area with a very thin layer of soil (1/2 inch or so).  1 Yard of soil should cover about 500 square feet with a light layer of soil.  You cover the dead areas with dirt, seed, and mulch with straw.  We recommend seeding with Good Nature Tuff Turf which is a premium blend of Turf Type Tall Fescues (95%) and Kentucky Bluegrass (5%).  Turf Type Tall Fescue has a deep root system and seems to be less likely to get damaged by grubs or animal digging.  I wouldn't call it grub proof, but it's a lot more resistant to grubs than shallow rooted grasses like bentgrass are. 

If you have a large flat area of grub damage, it might make sense to rent a little machine specifically designed for fixing up lawns.  It's a Toro Dingo with a soil cultivator attachment.  The soil cultivator will turn dead grass into a ready to seed into seed bed.  It takes a little getting used to  and isn't effective if there are a lot of tree roots, but if you have an open dead area, it works great.  Check out our Lawn Renovation Page for videos of the Soil Cultivator and Dingo in action.

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Milky Spore for Organic Grub Control

Milky Spore is another natural alternative for controlling grubs.  I'm not a huge fan of milky spore for grub control because it only controls Japanese Beetle Grubs and there are a whole host of other grub species that damage you're lawn.  Milky Spore is a good tool if you're trying to reduce the levels of Japanese Beetles in your yard, but not the best product if you're trying to control grubs in your lawn.

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Neem Oil for Grub Control

Oil from the Neem Tree in India works minor miracles on plants.  It coats leaf surfaces and protects them from disease (great for roses) and it acts as a repellent / anti - feedant for insects that like to feed on plants.  If you apply Neem Oil to your lawn three times a season (June, July, and August) the likelihood that you'll have grub damage is reduced.  It may also protect the lawn from disease issues.

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Most Recent

How To Stop Animals From Digging Up The Lawn

September 10, 2018 by Alec McClennan

There are a variety of critters who sometimes frequent our lawns and can cause issues while theyre looking for food. Moles tunnel under the ground and can create a mess, especially in the Spring. Skunks and Racoons are more of an issue in the Fall as they work to fatten up for winter. Why are Animals Digging In My Lawn? Animals will dig because theyre hungry. Moles, Skunks, and Racoons all eat a variety of worms, insects, and grubs. Just because you have Animals Digging, it does not mean that you have a grub problem. Animals will dig in search of food and return to places where theyve found food in the past. How Many Grubs is too Many? A healthy lawn can tolerate up to 5 grubs per square foot. An average size lawn is 5000 square feet, so that is 25,000 grubs! Its not possible to kill all the grubs, even if you resort to using a chemical that sits on the lawn for months. Using a natural grub suppression treatment like beneficial nematodes is a good idea to minimize one of the food sources

Urban Pesticide Use and Water Quality

July 03, 2018 by Danielle Kohan

Conventional lawn maintenance includes regular use of synthetic lawn chemicals, such as fertilizers and pesticides, which are typically applied repeatedly throughout the season. After every application a portion of the chemical is taken up by the soil and plants, but the remainder may be washed away during rainstorms where it can make its way into streams and lakes. This type of pollution is known as runoff. There is already clear evidence that links runoff from roads and farms to pollution in rivers and lakes, but, more recently, research indicates that the contribution from urban lawns is also significant. These chemicals dont discriminate they act as fertilizers and pesticides wherever they go. Nutrient pollution from fertilizer is essentially a too much of a good thing type of problem. In lawns and on farms they are intended to help grow desired plants, but when this fertilizer reaches a lake it spurs the growth of aquatic plants and algae and may have negative effects. For example,

Starting Your Family's First Compost Project

April 09, 2018 by Maureen Wise

If your family is looking to reduce the weight of the trash can you pull to the curb every week, composting your organic waste could cut your landfill trash by up to 30%, according to the US EPA. By composting your kitchen scraps and garden waste instead of landfilling, youll also help reduce greenhouse gases produced by landfills and end up with a locally made plant fertilizer (local, as in your own backyard!). We like natural fertilizer here at Good Nature Organic Lawn Care and are here to help you with some steps to start your familys first compost project. Choosing Your Location There are lots of options of where to let your compost decompose. Ideally, you need a spot where the compost will get a bit wet but not saturated so under a tree or behind a shed are optimal spots. Youll also need to have your compost contained in some way. A rotating drum is a popular alternative. These models often have wheels which makes for easy dispersal of compost when ready but they can be on the pricier

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