Learn About Common Pests + Proper Watering Tips


 

Chinch Bugs.

 

Identifying Hairy Chinch Bug-

As an adult, Hairy Chinch Bug is gray to black in color and covered with fine hairs. Its wings are white with a black spot located in the middle front edge and the legs often have a burnt-orange appearance. This lawn insect sometimes has short wings that end halfway down the abdomen.

Hairy Chinch Bug undergoes five nymphal stages, all of which result in different color and markings. Many of the instar stages feature a cream colored band around the abdomen. Overall, the Hairy Chinch Bug is nearly identical in appearance to the Southern Chinch Bug. The area of adaptation is the easiest way to identify these pests.

Initial damage from this lawn insect will result in the turf having irregular patches of wilted, yellow-brown turf that could resemble drought stress. Feeding disrupts the plant from properly moving water which prevents recovery.

Dry conditions are when these insects are most active for growth and development. This is another reason why drought stress can often mask the damage caused by this insect. Sometimes the damage may not be seen until the turf fails to green up once the drought stress is no longer a problem.

 

Lawn Grubs

 

Identifying White Grubs -

There are many different species of white grubs that can cause damage to turfgrass. The adult forms of these grubs are normally easy to distinguish from one another; however, the larvae are all very similar in appearance. White grubs have creamy-white to gray colored bodies with brown heads and six distinct legs. They usually assume a C-shaped position when in the soil. The easiest way to identify white grub types is to examine the raster pattern. This is a collection of spines, or hairs, found on the underside of the tip of the abdomen. Each grub species has a unique raster pattern.

White Grub Damage -

White grub damage often resembles that of drought stress. Watering these areas of your lawn will often mask the injured turf. Early symptoms of white grub infestation include gradual thinning, yellowing and wilting of the turf. Scattered, irregular or dead patches can also occur. Infested turf typically feels spongy underfoot as the turfgrass is not well anchored to the soil due to grubs feeding on the roots. These areas can easily be pulled up by hand to expose the soil surface and the feeding grubs.

To identify grub activity in your lawn, we recommend pulling or cutting back the damaged turf and visually checking for grubs near the soil surface. Animals (skunks, raccoons, moles, etc.) that feed on grubs can also cause damage to the turfgrass when searching for food. These animals may return for up to a year after the grubs are controlled as they remember where they have found food in the past.

Adult forms of White Grubs -

Although the different species of white grubs are difficult to differentiate as larvae, their adult forms are easier to distinguish. Essentially, white grubs are simply the larva stage of adult beetles; all species of beetles begin their lives as white grubs.

    

 

Below are some of the more common species of beetles:

•Japanese Beetle
•European Chafer
•May June Beetle
•Oriental Beetle
•Masked Chafer
•Asiatic Garden Beetle
•Green June Beetle
•Sugar Cane Grub
 

If you suspect that you may have any of the above pests in your lawn or have unexplained damage, please contact Turf Care for a free consultation or click here to request a quote.

 

Proper Watering:

Watering Established Lawns

Quick Facts...

Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, and perennial ryegrass lawns require proper watering schedules to survive.
Soil preparation is also critical to the rooting depth and drought tolerance of turf.

Kentucky bluegrass sod lawns may require 2.5 inches of water or more per week during the peak heat of summer.(normally 1-1.5 inches is sufficient per week)

The ideal time of day to irrigate is between 5 and 10pm, this avoids evaporational effects of the hot summer sun and still allows the plant to somewhat dry prior to the night when heavy dew may be present.  Keeping a lawn too wet at night can cause diseases.

Lawns grown on sandy soil require more frequent irrigation because  (the sandy soil cannot retain sufficient moisture for extended periods)   (less water per application) than lawns grown on clay soil.

To determine the most appropriate irrigation schedule for an established lawn consider the following: turf species; soil type; cutting height; potential disease and pest problems; local weather patterns; and microclimates (i.e., shade vs. full sun exposure; low vs. high areas of the yard).

For example, a lawn cut at 3 inches holds water longer than a lawn cut at 2 inches; or lower areas of a lawn hold water longer than higher areas. A properly designed and installed automatic sprinkler system should be programmed to accommodate these specific lawn needs. Rain sensors are useful for residents who are unable to adjust automatic systems when rainfall occurs.

When designing an irrigation system and developing an irrigation schedule consider the presence of trees and shrubs in the lawn because they have roots in the turf area that compete for water and nutrients. Take care to avoid root damage when installing a sprinkler system in areas with established trees and shrubs.

A lawn’s tolerance to drought is directly related to how well the soil was prepared prior to applying seed or sod. Heavily compacted soil that is low in organic matter does not facilitate deep, healthy root growth. Grass roots grow to their maximum depth in well-aerated soil containing four to five percent organic matter. A healthy, deep root system produces vigorous turf that is tolerant of drought and resistant to disease and insect pests.

Cool season turfgrass such as bluegrass, fescue, perennial ryegrass, or bentgrass needs regular applications of water. And even though warm season grasses (blue grama and buffalograss) are known for their drought tolerance they too thrive with occasional watering. The condition of the grass and soil – not the number of days since watering – is the best guide to irrigation. If you water daily or every other day, just because water is available, it is a waste of water and can be detrimental to the lawn. Doing this can predispose the turf to disease. Watering too frequently causes root death of trees and shrubs in or near the turf area either from root rot disease or lack of oxygen in the soil.

Amount and Frequency of Application

The rule of thumb for watering an established lawn is, “water as deeply and as infrequently as possible.” Deep and infrequent irrigation stimulates root growth, resulting in healthy, drought tolerant, and pest resistant turf.

While it’s true that a deep, healthy root system produces vigorous turf, rooting depth is determined primarily by genetics and soil condition – not irrigation. Maximum rooting depth occurs when soil conditions allow the roots of a particular species (or variety) to reach their full potential. This is not achieved by proper irrigation alone; a combination of proper irrigation, proper fertility, and regular core aeration (once in spring and/or once in fall) maximizes rooting depth and overall turf vigor.

 

Amount:

Apply 1 to 1.5 inches of water per irrigation (usually once per week under normal weather conditions). Determine how long this takes by purchasing and placing a rain gauge half way between the sprinkler head and the end of the stream in different areas of the lawn while  irrigating. Once the gauge reads 1-1.5 inches, record the time it took to obtain that reading and you may now calibrate your system.

Clay soils (which include many local soils) have a much lower penetration rate than sandy soils; therefore, clay needs to be watered at a slower rate in order to avoid runoff and puddling. To avoid runoff from very heavy clay soil and/or a sloped lawn you can water for a short period, then stop and start back up again until 1 to 1.5 inches of water has accumulated. Most irrigation clocks permit this type of cycling feature. This cycle make be as short and 5 minutes. This is best determined by the appearance of water running off the area being irrigated.

Water pressure varies from one location to another thus the length of time a neighbor waters may not necessarily be appropriate for your lawn. Lawns also have different soil types which permit water infiltration at different rates. Experience will eventually turn this seemingly tedious process into one that is quick and second nature. The addition of a pressure regulator at the valve is required if misting of water occurs. Set the regulator at the pressure appropriate for the particular nozzle on that zone.

 

Frequency:

Irrigate on regular weekly intervals up to the required amount of inches (provided sufficient rain has not occured or forecast) Look for signs of wilt, which often show up in the same location on the lawn time after time. Footprints or lawn mower tracks that remain at least one half hour after traffic has passed indicates irrigation is needed and the turf is stressed. Turf will also turn a shade of blue-gray when it is water stressed and in need of irrigation.

Do not irrigate again until the schedule permits unless rainfall has occured. It’s important that the soil profile dries somewhat between irrigation applications. Continually water-logged soils are deprived of oxygen which is required for proper root growth.

On very hot days turf may appear stressed even if the soil is wet. This is caused by heat stress and can be remedied by cooling off the turf by wetting it for 15 seconds or less. This technique is called syringing and is not the same as watering. The use of a Smart Controller that uses local weather data to determine the watering requirement of the turf and other irrigated areas will ensure proper watering. 

Time of day To Irrigate:

The best time to irrigate your lawn is between 6 and 11pm During this period it is generally cooler, less windy, and the humidity is higher so evaporation losses are less. Water pressure may also be higher at this time providing a more even spray distribution pattern.

Irrigating between 6 and 11pm also overlaps with the turf’s natural dew period. Most diseases of turf occur when grass blades are wet for longer than 14 consecutive hours.

 

If you have questions about your lawn, give us a call,

You will be glad you did!