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  • Matt Keenan

Stop crabgrass chinch and grubs this year with two tricks

Have you ever seen grubs, crabgrass, or chinch bug in your lawn? These are three very common lawn care problems affecting home lawns in Kingston Ontario. Maybe you've bought various grub treatments, crabgrass pre-emergents, or even chinch control. These practices have very low effectiveness and are costly, here you will learn 2 strategies that work better than any product on the market.


Crabgrass

Crabgrass is an extremely common weed found in Kingston lawns, this is because they are a plant better adapted to hot and dry temperatures than your cool-season lawn. Only one product claims to treat the problem –corn gluten. Unfortunately, corn gluten is ineffective against crabgrass in wet spring environments like that of Kingston lawns. What's worse is the high price needed for the recommended application rate and this is why this is not a satisfying lawn treatment.


Luckily, a study at the University of Maryland in the '90s demonstrated that mowing at a height of 3.5" alone, showed the same control of crabgrass as four common herbicides. Pretty good considering raising your mower blade won't cost a dime!


If you've noticed, crabgrass infiltrates dry and thin areas of your lawn, by deeply and infrequently watering your lawn during the hotter months, you will be able to maintain healthy turf and limit the opportunity for crabgrass seeds germinating near the surface.


Furthermore, some grass species have been shown to inhibit the germination of other plant seeds when they break down and release natural inhibitory chemicals, this is called allelopathy. So be sure to mow often enough that you're not cutting off more than 1/3 of the grass at any time, bonus points if you have a mulching blade, and of course, you will have to leave the clipping on the lawn!


Grubs

Why do grubs only seem to appear on highly maintained lawns but not in the neighbor's "lazy lawn". It turns out that grub eggs can be quite susceptible to drying out, often appearing on lawns that are over-irrigated. Shorter grass may also provide easier access for the adult grub beetle to administer their eggs to the soil.


Also, deep infrequent watering paired with heightened mowing heigh will produce deeper grass roots which are more resilient to a hungry grub!


Chinch

Recently, Ontario has approved a "bio-pesticide" for the treatment of chinch bugs but to no surprise, this is at best a pre-emergent control with the same application limitations as grub treatments. Both chinch and grub control consists of live organisms, which means that you need to apply an exorbitant amount of these microbes to compete with the immense native microbial pool, and you must immediately water this treatment in or risk the live microbes being cooked by the sun.


Chinch causes damage to grass because they are seeking moisture, when they bite into the grass, they leave behind a toxin that kills the blades of grass. Not only does deep and infrequent watering keep the grass healthy enough to resist these predators but it can also keep the healthy layer of thatch moist enough to supply the chinch bugs with the moisture they need so that your grass doesn't become the prime target.


Bonus tip

Fertilizing correctly can make or break your lawn this year, fertilizing too early will lead to a dry depleted turf come summer, that's a promise. Choosing organic fertilizer will help to hold onto moisture and toughen up your grass' defenses against insects, disease, and weeds. Be careful applying synthetic fertilizer, the price may be appealing upfront, but these products add unnecessary salinity to the soil, can deplete the plant's energy stores, and even catalyze the breeding ground for disease.


To summarize

With these two simple tricks: raise your mower blade and water deeply and infrequently in the summer months, you can stop paying for your grub, chinch, and crabgrass treatments. Be sure to fertilize with organic this year and double down on lawn health. You can check out our organic programs here.

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