GTI Lawn & Garden Letter

Entertaining advice for home gardeners with a focus on lawn and garden care and the outdoor gardening lifestyle. Suitable primarily for people living in northeastern North America and similar temperate climates in other parts of the world.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hi Folks.

Just a notice that this blog is being discontinued on this site but can now be found on the Guelph Turfgrass Institute website by following
this link.

If you have not already received a notification email with a summary of the latest posting and a link, please send an email to to have your email address added to our list.

Sorry for any inconvenience as we move the GTI Lawn & Garden Letter to the
Guelph Turfgrass Institute website.

Rob Witherspoon, Director

Guelph Turfgrass Institute & Environmental Research Centre
University of Guelph

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Putting the Lawn and Garden to Bed

Looks like we are headed into a nice stretch of sunny fall weather which will be perfect for getting the yard cleaned up for winter. Here is the checklist I use to get everything tidied up and ready for a quick start to the gardening season next spring.

1. Leaf Removal

I am proud to say that I have never removed a single leaf from my property. If you have a good quality mulching mower, with freshly sharpened blades, you can actually mulch your leaves right into the lawn. Recent research has shown that you can mulch your leaves into the lawn with no harm to the grass. Mulching means chopping the leaves up with a mulching mower fine enough that they do not mat and smother the grass. Adding a late fall nitrogen application will help the soil microbes break the leaves down releasing nutrients and building organic matter in the soil. The leaves do need to be on the drier side to mulch effectively. You also need a good quality mulching mower with sharp blades. An alternative is to designate bed areas in your garden as leaf composting areas and raking the leaves into these areas to as a natural mulch. Just be sure not to smother any herbaceous perennials. Tree and shrub beds make nice leaf composting areas. Alternatively, you can add the leaves along to your composter or compost pile with your other garden debris.

2. Final Lawn Mowing

I like to have the lawn go into the winter at the same height or even slightly lower than normal. The leaf mulching operation takes care of the final mowing and also makes sure that the lawn does not go into winter smothered by leaves. Unmown, more naturalized areas of the yard also get their once a year cutting at this time of year to reduce mice/vole habitat and remove some of the organic matter to the compost pile.

Damaged areas of the lawn can still be repaired this late in the season. Sod is generally available up until freeze up and if laid in late fall and rolled, will easily survive through winter. You just have to remember to keep an eye on it for water needs in the spring should natural rainfall be insufficient. Areas can be dormant seeded as an alternative. Follow the instructions on the bag and rake the seed in a bit and roll to minimize the chance of birds eating the seed. Again, watch for germination in spring and water if needed.

3. Fall Fertilization

Once the grass has stopped growing, it is time to apply perhaps the most important fertilizer application of the season. One pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet at this time of year aids in the breakdown of mulched leaves as indicated above, but more importantly provides the grass plants with the nutrition needed to survive the winter and green up quickly and establish deep roots next spring. Even though the grass has stopped growing, it is still photosynthesizing actively and the addition of nitrogen helps support this process. If you have been using a balanced fertilizer through the season you can use a straight nitrogen source like urea which is inexpensive and immediately available to the roots. Apply carefully to insure you are getting one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. You can also use a regular turf fertilizer but try to find one that does not have a high slow release content as you are not concerned at this time of year with spreading the release time of the nutrients over a longer period.

4. Annual/Perennial Garden Cleanup

With the exception of annuals or perennials that have winter interest - ornamental grasses with their attractive foliage and seedheads or plants like coneflower whose seeds provide winter food for birds - I like to remove all excess perennial garden foliage so the bulbs show well and there is less cleanup in spring. You can go through the garden with a pair of garden shears but I find a "weed whacker" approach much faster and easier on my back. I use a manual cutter that has a blade attached to a handle that you swing to cut the material off at ground level but you could use a gas or electric string trimmer as well. Material is collected and layered in the compost pile. I like to finish things off by running the mower over the garden at its highest setting to tidy everything up and mulcing any remaining debris. If you have the time, you can also spread some compost or find some well rotted manure to topdress your beds, particularly if they looked a little tired this past summer. Throughout most of Ontario, continuous rainfall made everything look lush throughout the season so tiredness was not seen in many gardens.

5. Containers

Once container plants have faded for the season, remove them and clean up the containers for storage. If you used any perennials in your containers, lift them and plant in the garden somewhere as they will not survive in the containers unless you have a very sheltered and partly heated area to store them in. I have several large patio containers and remove only the top 10-15 cm of soil and roots leaving the remaining soil in the bottom of the container to reduce my need to purchase more soil next spring. These containers are stored in an old shed so they are not subjected to getting waterlogged from rain and snow which can cause freeze-thaw damage to the containers.

6. Watering Systems

Anyone with an inground irrigation system will likely have had it blown out by now. Empty any rain barrels, remove them from below your downspout and turn them upside down so they do not collect any water over the winter. I attach a length of solid plastic drainage pipe to the downspout to direct fall and early spring rains away from my foundation. Drain garden hoses and store in a dry area. I have an old plastic garbage can that I coil all my hoses into and it can stay outside the shed saving valuable floor space inside. If you do not have frost proof outside faucets, don't forget to shut them off from inside and open the valve to drain any water. If you don't use the faucets in the winter, it is not a bad idea to shut frost proof faucets as well.

7. Small Engines

Small engines in mowers, tillers and other outdoor equipment that will not be used should be properly winterized. Although draining the gas from the tank and carburator is one option, I find it messy with the potential for spilling fuel. I prefer to top up the tanks, add a fuel stabilizer according to the label instructions, and either shutting off the fuel line and running the excess gas out of the carburator or if there is no gas line shut off, running the engine for a few minutes after adding stabilizer to the tank to insure you have stabilized gas in the carburator. Clean any debris off the machine and sharpen blades if you didn't before mulching leaves. Pressure washers need to be winterized or stored in a heated area to prevent damage to the pump. Check your owners manual on instructions for proper winterizing of your pressure washer if you store it outside. I store mine in an unheated shed and winterize the pump by drawing some RV plumbing system antifreeze into the pump. If you have a snow blower, now is a good time to start it up to make sure it is working properly as opposed to waiting until you have a driveway full of the white stuff.

8. Hand Tools

The final task is to clean up all the garden tools. Use a wire brush to scrub any dirt or rust from metal parts and treat the metal with either an oil wipe or spray of penetrating oil to prevent rust. Wooden handles can be rubbed with a cloth soaked in linseed oil to prevent drying out and cracking. Any rough or splintering areas on handles can be lightly sanded prior to oiling.

That should just about wrap up lawn and garden cleanup for the fall. Head inside, make yourself a hot cup of tea and get on the Internet to start looking for the seed catalogues and new plants for next year. We are working on pulling together some new information to help gardeners deal with next year out on the lawn and garden and will let you know when it is ready. Right now I have to head out and actually do all of the above. Have a great winter!

Rob Witherspoon
Guelph Turfgrass Institute & Environmental Research Centre
University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario Canada

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

GTI research plots - August, 2008

Mid-Summer Update

My apologies for the lengthy delay between posts to the GTI Lawn & Garden Letter blog. It has been a busy summer in the turf world. Here is a quick update on summer lawn maintenance issues. Farther down the page you will also find an announcement for our Trial Garden Open House which is taking place on Tuesday, August 19th. If you are in the Guelph area, please come by to see our facility and specifically the beautiful trial gardens. Each day I drive in the laneway to our research station I always make sure to roll down the window and breath in the marvelous scent of the thousands of annual and perennial flowers in bloom.

What's Up on the Lawn

The heavy rainfall this summer has resulted in a lot of mushroom growth on lawns. Mushrooms thrive on the moisture and grow on the dead organic material on the lawn. They are generally not a problem and are usually knocked down by regular mowing.

Good turf growth is masking most evidence of insect damage. Grubs are starting to become active. If you are considering nematodes for grub control, the application window is late August to early September. We have received some reports of chinch bug damage. Please refer to earlier postings about the method of detecting chinch bugs in your lawn using a coffee can with both ends removed. Damage is showing as fist sized dead patches in sunny areas of the lawn. There are no effective non-chemical controls for chinch bugs available. Consult with a local lawn care professional for control options available in your area.

Normally at this time of year lawns are dormant and fertilization is not recommended. This year is different as the turf has continued to grow through the summer. Now would be a good time for an additional fertilizer application to keep your lawn healthy and green through the rest of the summer and into fall.

It has been an exceptional year for crabgrass which is now showing as yellow-green coarse leaved turf in lawn areas. There is nothing you can do to control crabgrass now but make note of the areas of your lawn that are affected and plan to start a corn gluten meal program next year to control this annual lawn weed.

Broadleaved weeds are also having a banner year although they are usually less of a problem in well maintained lawns that receive adequate fertilization and are mown properly. You are likely aware that Ontario has introduced a cosmetic pesticide ban that will be coming into effect in the spring of 2009. It will severely limit your ability to control weeds and insect pests with chemical controls. There are some decent alternative controls on the market or in development. However, as this fall will likely be your last opportunity to use chemical herbicides, you may want to consider a final application to clean up your lawn as we move into a new era of lawn maintenance.

It will be very interesting to see how private and public lawns and gardens fare under a pesticide free regime. Most municipalities and home owners have made an effort to reduce their pesticide use but the final step will be somewhat challenging. Plan to pay closer attention to cultural management (mowing, watering, fertilizing, etc.) of your landscape. As most of our landscapes were designed with consideration to the availability of pesticides to control pest outbreaks, I suspect some significant redesign and rethinking of our private and public green spaces will be needed as well. We'll do our best to keep you informed of the latest developments in alternative pest management products as well as continue to provide you with reliable and proven garden management information.

University of Guelph’s 2008 Ornamental Trial Gardens Public Open House
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tours of the trials will be available throughout the day

What to see
• All America Selections Flower and Bedding Plant Trial
• over 500 different ornamentals for containers and ground beds - vote on your favourites !
• Blooms of Bressingham perennial trial
• Vanhof and Blokker perennial trial
• lily perennialization trial
• boulevard planting trial
• field-grown cutflower trial
• ornamental grass garden

Free Speaker Program
1-2:00pm - The Future of Pest Control in Guelph’s Gardens
6-7:00pm - Boulevards and Bylaws

Get answers all day to:
- pest control problems from Guelph’s new Healthy Landscape Technician
- gardening questions from the Guelph/Wellington Master Gardeners

Cutflower Workshop (3-4:30 pm)
Connie Dam-Byl will once again lead a flower arranging workshop using flowers from the
garden. A registration fee of $10.00 will be charged to cover the cost of the flowers you will take
home with you. There are only 20 workshop spaces available so register early. (See below for
registration contact information)

Where: Guelph Turfgrass Institute, 328 Victoria Rd. S. (at College Ave.)
(Free admission and parking)

For workshop registration or more information
please contact Rodger Tschanz at (519) 824-4120 ext. 52788 or by email at:
web site:


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dealing with Dandelions

Once again we enter the season when dandelions reveal their golden flowers across lawns, fields, ditches and parks. I could probably write an entire post about the pluses (pretty flowers, salad greens, wine, and the fact you can make a cool necklace by looping the flower stalks) and the minuses (ugly flowers, crowds out the grass, makes a lousy playing surface, seed blows everywhere and gets into my perennial border) of this controversial plant/weed. However, since this is a place where gardeners come to look for advice about lawn care, I will restrict my comments to managing dandelions in your lawn, or should I say out of your lawn.

Ontario residents are probably aware that the provincial government is introducing legislation to eliminate the cosmetic, or non-essential, use of pesticides on lawns and gardens including those used to control dandelions and other broadleaved weeds. If you are interested in this legislation, check out this link where you can read the draft legislation and provide your own comments if you are so inclined. The bottom line is that if you are currently using a weed and feed fertilizer, a three way herbicide like Killex or having a professional service treat your lawn to control dandelions and other broadleaved weeds, this may be the last year you can use these products. Start planning now to refine and change your management practices to reduce weed populations by other means or alter your expectations and learn how to make dandelion wine.

As a starting point, when dandelions are flowering is not the best time to control them using traditional herbicides. At this time of year, they are putting all of their efforts into producing seed so treatment may affect the leaves but the roots will likely survive and regrow. The treatment will not affect seed production. Fall treatment is most effective at controlling dandelions as they are directing their energy to the roots for winter survival.

In the spring, your best option is to dig out your dandelions. You want to remove as much root as possible so hand pulling is not really an option. A number of tools are available for this job. I have experimented with a few of the available models and have yet to find one that is 100% effective at getting all of the root and preventing regrowth. My current strategy is to use a model that removes the weed, about the top 6-8 cm of root and a small cone of soil. I carry a bucket with some good topsoil mixed with grass seed and toss a handful in each of the little holes to prevent other weeds from germinating in the void. If you have a large lawn and currently have a good crop of dandelions, consider treating your lawn one last time this fall then plan to improve your cultural practices and start manual removal of weeds next year.

There are some options for weed control that will still be available as well as some new options on the horizon. Corn gluten meal has been around for a few years. Normally used as a pet food ingredient, it was found to also prevent seed germination. It has no impact on established weeds but will prevent new weeds from germinating. Unfortunately, it will also prevent grass seed from germinating so you should avoid using it if you are overseeding your lawn to increase turf density. It is particularly effective in a program to control crabgrass, an annual grass that is a weed in lawns and is starting to germinate right now. For more information about this product, including how and when to apply, follow this link.

Within the next year or two, watch for a new product called Sarritor. Expected to be commercially available in 2009 or 2010, this is a true "biological control agent" in that it is a living organism, in this case a fungus, that selectively attacks dandelions and may also have some activity against other broadleaved weeds. Watch for further information on this product or check out their website.

Once you have eradicated undesirable weeds from your lawn, plan a good maintenance program to keep your lawn thick and healthy. A long term demonstration project looking at lawn care alternatives conducted at the Guelph Turfgrass Institute over the last few years showed that fertility was one of the major factors in reducing weed infestation on lawns. The most important aspect from both an agronomic and an environmental perspective is to apply the correct amount of fertilizer at the appropriate time of year. For a moderately managed lawn, you should fertilize twice per year - sometime in the next four weeks (late spring) and in late summer/early fall. I follow a three times a year application schedule on my lawn that adds a late fall application that I think is important for winter survival and early but controlled spring green-up and growth. It is critical to apply the correct amount - go back and see my May, 2006 posting (link at the right side of this page) for information on how to accurately calculate your lawn's fertilizer needs as well as a discussion on organic versus inorganic fertilizers. A soil test taken in the fall every 2-3 years can point out any odd nutrient deficiencies but nitrogen is not measured by soil tests and is the most critical nutrient for grass.

Combined with good mowing practices (a sharp blade, mow high and return the clippings to the lawn), periodic aerating to manage thatch and overseeding as needed to increase turf density, it is not that difficult to have a lawn with no chemical intervention needed. Insect problems are going to be the greatest challenge of managing pesticide free landscapes. Keeping the lawn thick and healthy will help as will quickly overseeding any damaged areas. Hopefully the elimination of pesticide use will help stimulate investment in research to develop effective alternatives so we can still enjoy the environmental, recreational and aesthetic value of our lawns.

We are working on a new website for the Guelph Turfgrass Institute & Environmental Research Centre, and our intention is to eventually move this blog there as well as develop an extensive list of frequently asked questions about lawn care and other helpful resources for home gardeners. I'll keep you posted on new developments and welcome your comments, suggestions and questions. In the meantime, enjoy your lawn and garden and have a great Victoria Day weekend.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

2008 Season Begins with a Bang

In southern Ontario it seems like we have jumped suddenly from winter to summer. Fortunately for the spring bulbs and the rest of the garden, there is some rain in the forecast for the weekend and also a return to cooler, more seasonal temperatures.  I always prefer a little cooler temperatures as the spring bulbs emerge to help prevent them from burning out in a few days.

Lawns also benefit from cooler spring temperatures and more consistent rainfall in the spring. Many lawns are showing the signs of last summer's heat and drought along with evidence of damage from insects. Later in this posting, I will provide some advice on repairing damaged lawns.

If you lawn survived last year in decent shape, all it may need this spring is a little raking to remove any debris left over from last fall.  You may recall how we had snow last fall before all of the leaves had fallen so no doubt you have residual leaves left over. If they are not too thick and have dried, you may be able to avoid raking and simply mulch them up with the first pass of your mower. Although many homeowners still see fertilizing the lawn as the initial rite of spring, early spring fertilizer is not recommended as it can stimulate leaf growth at the expense of developing a strong root system. Good roots are the key to a healthy lawn so hold off with any fertilizer application until late spring.  Fertility will be addressed in a future posting.

Core aeration is also a good cultural practice to help keep your lawn thick and healthy.  It is done using a machine that pulls a little plug of soil and turf out of the ground. The plugs will naturally break down and the hole provides a conduit for air and water to easily enter the soil. To help crowd out weeds, overseeding immediately following core aeration is recommended. Perennial ryegrass is the only grass species that can be effectively overseeded into an existing lawn.  

The first mowing of the season does not need to be done until the height of the grass is approximately 1/3 higher than your desired height of cut. For home lawns, it is recommended that you mow at the highest height of cut your mower allows. Taller grass has deeper roots and is more resilient to drought and other environmental stresses. It is also more competitive with weeds. Be sure to start the season with a freshly sharpened mower blade. Don't forget to change the oil in your mower if you didn't get it done in the fall. If you are in the market for a new mower, take a look at the light weight push or electric reel mowers that are available for small properties. There is a new solar rechargeable self propelled electric mower made in Canada that is on the market. I am trying to borrow a demonstration unit from the manufacturer and will hopefully be able to post a review in the near future.

Lawn Repair and Renovation

Grub damage can be devestating

If your lawn was severely damaged by drought or insect damage last year and you were unable to initiate repairs last fall, now is the time to get going to avoid weed encroachment on the barren ground. Less severely damaged lawns may be repaired simply by following good cultural practices (mowing, fertility and irrigation) that will encourage the remaining grass to spread and fill in. Overseeding with perennial ryegrass can speed up the repair process.

More severely damaged lawns with large expanses of dead grass need a little more work. Overseeding or resodding are your best options. Whichever route you take, the key is to avoid disturbing the existing soil which will stimulate dormant weed seeds to germinate. Mow low and rake off any debris as a first step. If there is a thick layer of dead material on the surface (thatch) you may need to use a vertical mower, also known as a power rake, to lift the dead material for removal. The area can be topdressed with new topsoil to level and then you can sod or overseed.

Another option for overseeding is to use a slit overseeder. This machine cuts slits in the soil and places the seed in direct contact with soil for optimal germination. Many lawn care companies are now offering this service and some equipment rental companies have slit overseeders for rent. Apply seed at half rate and go over the area in two directions at a right angle to each other.

Renovating a damaged lawn is a great time to upgrade your grass. You may want to consider going to a more drought tolerant and lower maintenance fescue blend or perhaps you want to try out the newest Kentucky bluegrass cultivars. Don't skimp on quality when it comes to seed. Read the label carefully and look for seed blends that have named cultivars as opposed to just common seed types. Follow this link for a list of reputable Canadian lawn seed suppliers.

For more detailed information on lawn repair check out the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs excellent publication Lawn Renovation.

Once you have resodded or seeded your lawn, follow up with good maintenance practices to get the lawn well established. Hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate and provide us with some nice gentle, warm rains that will help the lawn and garden prepare for the summer ahead. Your questions and comments are always welcomed. Remember that your lawn and garden should be a place for recreation and relaxation, a place to reconnect with the earth. Enjoy it!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Fall Lawn and Garden Care

If you are a little more organized than me, your gardening is probably all done for the season, tools have been cleaned and oiled and any gas powered equipment has been properly winterized. However, if you are like me, perhaps you were lulled by the beautiful fall weather into a sense of endless summer and the recent cooler temperatures have you in a bit of a panic about getting the yard cleaned up before winter.

The first thing to do is stop worrying. Gardening should be a relaxing pursuit free of worry. Snow has a wonderful way of covering up the fall work that didn't get done. In spring it will still be there although likely a little mushier and harder to rake up. Here is my priority list for winterizing the yard.

1. Drain any hoses, outdoor faucets and rain barrels. A no brainer - if you don't, damage will result. Turn rain barrels upside down and store hoses out of the weather - I coil all mine in a plastic garbage can in the shed.

2. Rake any leaves off the lawn or mulch them with your mower. In a perfect world, you want to keep leaves off the lawn at this time of year as the grass plants are still gathering energy for their long winter dormancy. I rake my leaves into shrub borders and under trees and leave them to rot there rather than bagging them. If you have a good mulching mower, you can mulch up to an ankle depth of leaves directly into the lawn without harm. Due to the mild fall, leaves are taking their sweet time to fall from many trees and I fear we may have snow before leaf fall. Do your best but don't lose sleep over a few leaves. There is always next spring.

3. Apply a fall fertilizer to your lawn. If you only fertilize your lawn once a year - do it in late fall. Applying about 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet now will help the grass plants resist winter damage and provide good spring green up next year. I use a fast release nitrogen source called urea which is available from any good farm supply store. Urea is a "hot" source of nitrogen meaning you need to apply it carefully and avoid any spillage on the lawn as it can burn if applied too heavily. Urea's analysis is 46-0-0 meaning it is 46% nitrogen so you only need to apply about two pounds (~1 kg) per 1000 square feet (~100 sq. m). Estimate the area of your lawn and weigh out (use bathroom scales and a pail) and apply the correct amount of fertilizer. Better to apply too little and make a couple passes then apply too much at once. I also like to go into the winter with my lawn cut at my normal cutting height (highest setting on my mower ~3") but don't worry if it is a little shaggy.

4. Winterize any summer power equipment. Gas will evaporate over the winter and leave deposits in your carburetor and engine that can cause problems next spring. Either drain or run the engine dry or use a gas stabilizer treatment following the product instructions. Scrap mower decks clean. Changing the engine oil and sharpening the blades will have everything ready to go next spring. (Note: If you have space in your garage, you can probably leave these tasks until later in the fall - my equipment is stored in the back shed and I have to get it done before the snow flies)

5. Clean up annual and perennial containers and beds. While they can wait until spring, annuals are best removed after the first frost before they become a soggy mess to handle. Gardeners debate whether you should cut back perennials in the fall or leave them until spring. I tend to cut back everything except the ornamental grasses and coneflower seed heads. The grasses provide some visual interest through the winter and the coneflower seeds are popular with the goldfinches and chickadees. I make short work of perennial bed cleanup by using a manual weed whacker and my old fashioned scythe which cut back the garden very quickly and all you have to do is rake up the debris and take it to the compost. If you have an old lawn mower, you could even set it up high and run it over your perennial beds for a quick cleanup. I have some large containers and I just remove the plants and the root/soil mass, heel any perennials in a back corner of the garden, recover and properly store rhizomes like canna lily and then store the containers with the remaining soil mix in the shed. Saves on soil for next year as you only have to pot up the top half or so of the container.

6. Clean up your hand tools. Giving your shovels, forks, rakes, etc. a cleaning using a wire brush and then spraying metal surfaces with something like WD40 will help prevent rusting over winter. Wiping wooden handles with a cloth soaked in linseed oil will extend the life of wooden handles as well.

That pretty well sums up the late fall lawn and garden tasks. If you get through all these before the snow sets in, congratulations! Don't forget to get the snow blower running or the snow shovel out of storage before it is needed.

If you have any questions or suggestions for future posts, please let me know. Relax and enjoy the gardening off season. Take the time to plan and dream about next year. The seed catalogues should be arriving in the mail any day now...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dry Conditions Persist

The dry conditions persist through much of southern Ontario although some areas have received some rain. There is also rain in the forecast for the next few days, so let's keep our fingers crossed. Eastern Ontario has been a bit more fortunate with more regular rainfall.

Depending upon temperatures, lawns can go about four weeks with no irrigation. About 5 mm per week is needed to keep dormant turf alive over a longer period as opposed to the 25 mm (or 1 inch) of water needed to keep a lawn lush and green through the summer. Use old tuna cans set up around your sprinkler and a watch to see how much time it takes your sprinkler to apply the appropriate amount of water.

Dormant lawns are extremely low maintenance. Mowing a dormant lawn is not necessary and can even cause damage as the wheel pressure can kill the dormant grass plants. Try to avoid traffic of any type on dormant lawns.

If you have experienced grub problems in the past and noticed the adult beetle flights earlier in the summer, you still have an opportunity to treat to prevent grub problems this fall and winter. Merit is a relatively new product that can only be applied by licenced lawn care applicators but it is extremely effective in controlling grub damage. Nematodes, which are a biological alternative, should not be applied to dry, dormant turf as they require soil moisture to move through the soil and infect the grub larvae. Chinch bugs are also coming on strong this summer. Check my previous message for details on monitoring their development.

The dry conditions are helping to keep the crabgrass in check this summer but watch out if we get some rain as it will really take off. There is not much you can do at this point except make note of the location of the crabgrass and plan your management strategy for next year. An organic (corn gluten meal) or chemical pre-emergent control can be applied early next season to control next year's crop of crabgrass. Crabgrass is rarely a problem in lawns that have a high mowing height and are properly fertilized.

Speaking of fertilizer, there is no point in fertilizing a dormant lawn. However, later in August or early September when (hopefully) we get some rain and cooler temperatures, your lawn will start to green up and grow which is a good time to provide some nutrients to encourage recovery from summer stresses.

Guelph Turfgrass Institute Open House

Every wonder what is involved in the science of growing grass? Interested in learning how to calibrate your sprinkler and water your lawn more efficiently? Want to view the hot new annuals and perennials before they show up in garden centres? Then plan to attend the Guelph Turfgrass Institute Open House and Trial Garden Display on Thursday, August 16th from noon to 8:00 pm. The planned agenda is as follows:

Noon - 8:00 pm

Self Guided Tours of Research Areas and Trial Gardens

12:30 pm -4:00 pm

Presentations by Various GTI Researchers

4:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Lawn Care Demonstrations

Cut Flower Arranging Workshops

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Dr. Lyons' Famous BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

7:00 pm

Live Bluegrass Music with the Speed River Valley Mountain Boys

Admission is free and everyone is welcome. The Guelph & Wellington County Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer your gardening questions as well. Follow the link below for a printable map showing the location of the Guelph Turfgrass Institute at 328 Victoria Road South in Guelph. We hope to see you there!

Directions to the Guelph Turfgrass Institute Open House