Landscape Committee - Questions/Answers

Below is advice regarding soil test kits, organic matter, and grubs:

Question:

We purchased a new home in a development in East Brandywine township last July. We were able to get our lawn in successfully from the hydroseeding the builder did plus some overseeding last fall and this spring, however I think the builder skimped on the top soil and thus the beneficial nutrients a nice lawn needs.

What would you recommend to do in order that my lawn has the best chance of thriving? Is there a product that can be applied to add organic matter to the lawn? Should I have a soil test done? (If so, how/where/cost) I'd like to think there is much I could do short of starting all over with new topsoil.

Answer:

The soil test kits are definitely worth the investment, especially for a young lawn. You can get them at the extension office or most garden centers, and they cost $6.00. If you call the Chester Co. office, they can probably mail it out to you. For the first five years of a new lawn's life, we often observe signs of stress because of low organic matter in the soil. You can speed that adjustment period up by topdressing with compost.

There is a publication that has directions at the following site: http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/turf/extension/home-lawns/lawn-establishment

Topdressing with 1/4” of compost, aerating it in, and overseeding the real rough spots will make a difference. It is labor intensive; you can do it yourself or hire a landscape professional to do it for you. If you don't add organic matter, just keep the fertility up and after about 5 years there will be an improvement - the turf clippings, roots, and other debris actually decompose to make organic matter, but it takes awhile.

Question:

I have grubs in my lawn. I've had to dig up some sod for different small projects around the house and nearly everytime I do, I find one or two grubs. I know there are products such as Grub-X available, but I am curious as to when the right time to apply is for our area as I think the product is most useful during a certain part of the grub lifecycle.

Answer:

As far as grubs go, you're exactly right. The optimum time to have the grub control product (like Grub-X) in place is when the eggs are hatching, so the very young grubs are exposed to the insecticide. Because they have a fairly long soil residual, you can apply them well ahead of time, so they will be there at the time of hatching.

Another requirement for successful grub control is that the insecticide application is followed by enough rain or irrigation to move it down in the soil to where in needs to be to contact the grubs. With the droughty summers we've been used to, this can be a problem. Usually the grubs in our area hatch during the early part of August. You can put down the grub control anytime during June or July when there's a good rain in the forecast - most products recommend 1/2 to 1” of rain or irrigation shortly after the application.

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