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    Weed, Insect, and Grub FAQ's
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Q. How do I tell if I have a lawn grub problem?
A. Magpies and other insect eating birds pecking at the lawn to feed on grubs and insects are a good indication that there may be a problem. Of course, seed eating birds such as doves and pigeons will not be an indicator.

It is the grub stage that causes most damage. They are voracious feeders and chew on the grass roots just below the surface of the soil. Eventually the roots will have been severed to such an extent that the turf lifts away in clumps looking a bit like a doormat.

Q. I get lots of tiny prickles in my feet when I walk on the lawn in summer. How can I fix this?

  1. Bindii or Jo-jo (botanical name Soliva pterosperma ) is one of the lawn nasties. A winter growing annual, seed germinate in late autumn. The soft, finely branched leaves produce small yellow flowers in spring. These mature with warmer spring weather to form the troublesome burrs.
  2. If there are only a few, they can be hand weeded, but chemical control is recommended. The most effective control is to prevent the seed germinating in autumn by using a pre-emergent weedicide.
  3. There are also products that selectively kill the bindii before the seedheads form. The best time to do this is from May to July.
  4. Put it on next year’s calendar to contact your Professional ALMA Lawn Care Operator to arrange treatment.

Q. Clover is rampaging out of control in my lawn. Will scarifying fix it up?
A. While scarifying the lawn may overcome the problem for a while, it is not the best solution as it is incredibly labour intensive to remove the huge volumes of scarifyings.

Your lawn is probably infested with White Clover (botanical name Trifolium repens). White clover has a pop-pom shaped white flower that gradually turns pinkish as it matures.

A similar weedy clover is Burr Medic (Medicago polymorpha) that has small yellow flowers and forms those spiral burrs that stick to your socks.

Clover and medics grow particularly well in winter. While it may make the otherwise dormant and pale lawn look better, it is a good idea to weed them out, removing next season’s seeds, and reducing competition for available nutrients and moisture with the desirable grasses.

The problem with these weedy legumes in lawns is that they shade the desirable turfgrasses, much like a beach umbrella, just at the time when the turfgrass is commencing its spring growth. For the turf to prosper, they need sunshine to be able to photosynthesize. No sun, hardly any growth. When the warmer weather arrives, the annual clovers die off; leaving a bare patch in the lawn that is susceptible to invasion by summer-growing weeds.

While scarifying the lawn may overcome the problem for a while, it is not the best solution as it is incredibly labour intensive to remove the huge volumes of scarifyings. Mow the lawn hard to remove the unwanted clover. Start with the mower set high, then reduce the cutting height and mow at 90o. You may have to mow several times in the one day, until the desirable turfgrasses are just exposed. When new clover leaves regrow, follow up with chemical treatment – there are many products available to rid a lawn of clover.

Clover and medics grow particularly well in winter. While it may make the otherwise dormant and pale lawn look better, it is a good idea to weed them out, removing next season’s seeds, and reducing competition for available nutrients and moisture with the desirable grasses.

Q. I have a lot of Crab Grass (this is what the nursery called it, it looks similar to Buffalo but is furrier looking and grows a stalk straight up with seeds on it) amongst our Buffalo and it is quickly taking over. I have had advice from our local nursery to little effect. Any hints????
A. A pre-emergent weedkiller called Ronstar is the most effective control, but it must be applied before the crabgrass begins to germinate in early spring.

Q. Is there a way to keep the weeds out of my flowerbeds?
A. Proper installation of soil and mulching materials can minimise the number of weeds in a flowerbed. Quality mulches, along with pre-emergent weed control, and occasional post-emergent weed control can keep a flowerbed clean of weeds.

Q. What does it mean when a product is called a “pre-emergent”?
A. A pre-emergent is a weed control product that actually “blocks” the growth process of a particular type of weed. As the weed grows through the soil, it comes into contact with the pre-emergent barrier and is controlled.

Q. How do I know when I’ve got lawn beetle ?

  1. Bird activity on a lawn provides a really useful indicator that beetles may be present. Magpies plunge their beak deeply into the soil to reach the beetle larvae. Blackbirds and starlings use their feet to scratch away the turf, which pulls away readily, and find the grubs.
  2. African black beetle spends most of its life under the soil surface. They chew stems just below ground level, leaving a frayed edge. Adults become sexually active in spring, and eggs are laid in areas of soft soil. The mating and egg-laying period extends over three months, which is why both larvae and adults can be found in the soil at the same time. Most damage to lawns is caused by the last larval stage, white curl grubs about 25mm long. The grubs are usually active from September to January. They pupate in the soil and emerge as adults from mid-January to late-February. These adults feed until the weather gets cold, when they burrow into the soil and become semi-dormant.

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