New York State IPM Program

April 23, 2015
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on Lawn IPM—Getting Ahead of the Weeds

Lawn IPM—Getting Ahead of the Weeds

“…winter, will be forced to relent, once again, to the new beginnings of soft greens, longer light, and the sweet air of spring.” – Madeleine M. Kunin

This turf along the edge of a walkway could use some help recovering after months of shoveled snow was piled on to it.p
This turf along the edge of a walkway could use some help recovering after months of shoveled snow was piled on top of it.

As spring progresses and temperatures continue to rise, lawns are recovering from the long winter. As the grass grows and the dry tips are mowed off, areas that need help will become more obvious. What can you do to help prevent weeds from taking over bare patches or thin areas? It’s time to break out the seed!

Mary Thurn from Cornell University guides us through the process of patching small weak or bare spots.

 

Want more? Download the free iBook, Lawn Care: The Easiest Steps to an Attractive Environmental Asset and visit IPM for Landscapes, Parks & Golf Courses.

 

April 14, 2015
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on Lawn care and the spring itch

Lawn care and the spring itch

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” ― William Shakespeare

It’s Spring (with a capital S) and the urge to get outside and work in the yard is mounting. When it comes to your lawn, what should you be thinking about and doing as April progresses?

Ahhh, spring. Waiting for the grass to grow.
Ahhh, spring. Waiting for the grass to grow.

Getting ready to mow

Depending on where you are, it might be awhile yet before it is time to gas up the mower. In the meantime, avoid the rush and get your mower tuned up and the blades sharpened. Set the mower blades to their highest setting. If you do nothing else this year, keep your blades sharp throughout the season, mow high, and leave the clippings in place.

Not sure how to remove the blade from your walk-behind or tractor? Want to sharpen your blades yourself but don’t know how? Here are some videos to help you out:

 

Videos from the iBook Lawn Care: The Easiest Steps to An Attractive Environmental Asset by Lori J. Brewer. Videos are directed and created by Insights International, Inc. and included here with permission of the author.

Hold off on the fertilizers

Do not fertilize if the lawn is looking good or you fertilized in the fall. The grass can get all the nutrients it needs from the soil and grass clippings.

Research has shown that fertilizing is best done in the fall when it supports root growth. Spring fertilization promotes top growth. There are two issues with this. First, promoting top growth at the expense of root growth leads to grass that is less resistant to drought and pests. Second, while you may currently find it hard to believe, you will get tired of mowing.

Seeding

Fall is also the best time for seeding, but if you have bare patches or thin areas, fill these areas with a mixture of perennial rye grass seed.

Want more? Download the free iBook, Lawn Care: The Easiest Steps to an Attractive Environmental Asset and visit IPM for Landscapes, Parks & Golf Courses.

August 27, 2014
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on Punching Out Grubs

Punching Out Grubs

Cutting grass roots to the quick — that’s a grub’s stock in trade. But pesticides cost money and time — let alone potential health hazards, whether to ecosystems or us. Cutting grubs to the quick? Now, there’s an idea.

Aerators can often be rented at local hardware stores.

Aerators can often be rented at local hardware stores.

Groundskeepers and savvy homeowners use aerators with their sharp tines to break up hard, compacted soil, letting life-giving oxygen and water deeper into the earth. But those tines have another function, though not by design. They’re like tiny spears, meaning that a grub in the wrong place at the wrong time is a goner. (Aerators can be rented.. In the NY Capital region, I am able to rent an aerator at my local garden store for $40 for four hours and $80 a day. To find one in your area, try Googling: aerator rental “your town”).

grub life cycle

Big grubs make the best targets. And the research … well, just read on.

Research at the State University of New York at Delhi has shown that yes, turfgrass aerators can lower grub populations, sometimes as much as 90 percent — depending, of course, on conditions that vary from site to site and year to year. Building on that, NYS IPM-funded research at SUNY Delhi looked at which cultivator designs do best against grubs.

Results? All aerators can cut grub populations — though the old standard hollow-core aerators did best in these trials. And it’s an inexpensive tactic if you have the equipment. With this information in hand, you can plan your aerate with grub management in mind. Ideally you’d time a tactic like this for when grubs are big enough to easily impale, yet not so big they’ve already dug deep to survive the winter.

So should you get punchy? Our video shows you how to assess your lawn and scout for grubs. If you find 10 grubs per square foot, now is the time! Grubs are pretty big and still close to the surface in late August so aerating might be just the ticket.

For more information, visit www.nysipm.cornell.edu/whats_bugging_you/grubs/default.asp and www.nysipm.cornell.edu/publications/grubs.

June 10, 2014
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on Why Is This Grass Weak?

Why Is This Grass Weak?

front_lawn-struggling (2)

Thin weak turf leaves bare areas susceptible to erosion and weed invasion.

Let me count the ways. First, a little perspective – this is the front lawn of a school that was just renovated. There was little money to invest in the lawn and even less to help the struggling lawn.

Problem #1: Compaction

This area was the staging area for the equipment and material storage during school renovations, so we know right off the bat that this area is compacted.

The Fix: Aeration

To relieve compaction, a core aerator can be used to punch holes in the turf, pulling out soil cores. The holes left behind provide space for air and water movement and root growth within the soil. If the school does not own an aerator, a small one can usually be rented at a local hardware store for a nominal fee. In the NY Capital region, I am able to rent an aerator for $40 for four hours and $80 a day.

Problem #2: Excess Straw

Straw laid down to protect seeds and seedlings can eventually be detrimental to turf health.

Straw laid down to protect seeds and seedlings can eventually be detrimental to turf health.

We can still see a significant amount of straw that was put down to protect the seeds and seedlings. At this stage, however, the straw is actively competing against the turf. Soil bacteria need nitrogen to decompose the straw – nitrogen that is also needed by the grass.

The Fix: Feed Right

Typically you would wait until the fall to get the most out of your fertilizer, but in this case, the Cornell Turf Team recommends an inexpensive, quick-release nitrogen fertilizer, such as urea, to increase nitrogen levels in the soil and make it available to the struggling grass. A soil test will determine whether other nutrients are also needed.

Problem #3: Less Than Ideal Growing Conditions

On top of compacted soil, this area has no irrigation. In the Northeast you can have a lawn without irrigation, but you want to make sure to give the grass every other advantage.

The Fix: Mow Right

We recommended raising the mowing height – to allow for more and deeper root growth. Also, be sure that mower blades are sharp. Dull blades shred, not cut, leaf blades, creating more stress.

(Likely) Problem #4: The Wrong Seed

We can’t be sure, but it is a likely that the area was seeded with an inexpensive contractor mix. Choosing the right grass for the site is one of the most important steps you can take to solve a number of problems.

The Fix: Overseeding

Given the lack of financial resources, it is probably best to wait until the more ideal late summer or early fall before reseeding bare areas. To help choose what turfgrass seed to choose, visit the Cornell Turfgrass website on choosing grass varieties.

Bare areas within weak turfgrass stands are susceptible to erosion and are practically an invitation for weeds to fill the void. The Child Safe Playing Fields Act prevents the application of an herbicide to either prevent or control weeds on school grounds, so providing a good growing environment to maintain healthy grass is imperative. The above fixes, and more, can be found in detail in Lawn Care: The Easiest Steps to an Attractive Environmental Asset.

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