Monday, December 24, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
In 1999, we reported “Researchers are working on a fungus that will kill dandelions. Much more research is needed before this product will be on the market. It is hoped that it will be available by 2002.”
Well, now it is 2007, and more testing and work has been done. Much of it has been done at McGill University by Dr. Alan Watson. Now, the product is getting closer to being available, possibly 2009 or 2010.
This new organic herbicide product has been named Sarritor. (Sarritor was a minor Roman god of agriculture, god of hoeing and weeding.) Sarritor has the potential to provide an alternatiive weed control to 2,4-D the most commonly used weed killer used right now for the ubiquitous dandelion.
According the website at sarritor.ca , this product will eliminate dandelions and other broadleaf weeds in 5-7 days. Once the weeds have died, the fungus will also die and there will be no residual. The product does not pose a risk to human health or the environment and is compatible with normal lawn maintenance operations such as mowing, fertilization, and irrigation.
The active ingredient in Sarritor is a strain of Sclerotinia minor, a naturally occurring fungus in Canada that infects susceptible dandelion plants and destroys dandelion plant tissues above ground.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Can anything be done in the middle of November? Sod may still be available so the lawn could be repaired. I would first suggest checking the lawn for grubs. These 2 lawns pictured don't look like grub problems. But, it is worthwhile checking. If there are grubs and you sod over them, the grubs aren't likely to do too much damage to the sod. Raccoons and skunks, however, may think, "hey these grubs are easy to find, and the grass was really easy to lift up!"
If you're not in the mood to sod right now, I would suggest waiting until spring to do any seeding. It is unlikely that grass seed will do too much at this time of year.
If it makes you feel better, you could purchase a small amount of grass seed and throw it over the bare spots. It may come up next spring and it may not. A little bit of grass seed is relatively inexpensive way to salve your conscience. The only problem is that by the time the ideal time to seed and repair comes around next spring, the grass seed you threw down now won't have come up so you will have to start from scratch.
So I guess the only reason to put some grass seed down now is if you are the type that only has a 50-50 chance of getting around to doing any repairs and seeding at the correct time next spring.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Is the autumn season called "fall" because of the leaves? Fall does mean leaves will fall. And leaves fallen on lawn shouldn't leave the lawn in worse shape than they would be if you can see that the leaves aren't left on the lawn. Whew!
Once the leaves end up on the lawn, they should be removed. Large flat leaves like those from maples, can easily lie on the lawn and smother the grass. When you do rake them into leaf piles, don't leave the piles sitting on the lawn too long. I have come to lawns in the spring where you could see the leaf piles in several places in the melting snow. Inevitably the lawn under those leaf piles has died from the lack of light and air.
If the leaf drop is not too severe, you may be lucky enough to run the lawn mower over the leaves and chop them up fine enough to allow them to compost right on the lawn. If that's not an option, you can use your mower and lawn mower bag to gather the leaves.
If you do need to rake, make sure to use a leaf rake to rake leaves. The tines of leaf rakes are flexible enough that they will not damage the lawn.
Once you have the leaves all gathered together- why not compost them? Fall leaves are a valuable resource because they keep garden soil productive. This way these nutrients can be recycled back into your garden.
Monday, November 5, 2007
One of our technicians had some white grubs at the apartments where he lives. We tried an experiment to see how well Sevin stacked up against nematodes.
We also applied Merit- even though we knew it was too late to be effective. This was done mid October.
Here's what we found 2 weeks later:
Merit did nothing- as expected
Neem Oil - did not perform
Sevin - reduced the population by about two-thirds.
Nematodes -Worked better than the Sevin. Almost all the grubs were dead.
Nematodes work best when the soil is saturated. Nematodes need the moisture to move around in the soil to get to the grubs. The lawn was watered well the night before.
see our website at www.hamiltonturfking.ca or call us at 905.318.6677
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Although being "The Lawn Experts" means we know a fair amount about grasses. Here are a couple of photos of grasses that we don't find on lawns. This first one is a Miscanthus grass. There are quite a few varieties of Miscanthus that range in height from 3-4 feet all the way up to 8-9 feet tall. This particular one has yellow striping. Not vertically as one might expect but horizontally. The seed heads are at their peak right now.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
In August, I drove by a sod farm in Mount Hope. I could see that the fields have been prepared for seeding. Fall is the best time to sow grass seed. This is when Mother Nature does her seeding. The days can be warm, even hot in August, but the nights are cooler for sure. Any moisture that we do get is less likely to be lost.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
A few weeks ago a colleague sent me a new item about a municipality that had a concern about wild parsnips. They can be as bad as poison ivy. Never heard of that before, so I better find out.
Fine, I said, but what do they look like. So you do a Google image search for "wild Parsnip." Fine, yellow flowers and all. Then did a Google search for "wild Parsnip." The top of the list was an article entitled Burned by wild parsnip. These particular weeds can cause "phyto-photo-dermatitis" to those who come in contact with the leaves or stems.
These chemicals in the plants on the skin cause an inflammation of the skin when these areas are exposed to sunlight.
Learned something new today, I said.
Then a week or two later, we were walking through the fields behind a friends property when I saw these yellow flowers. Hey, they look like the wild parsnips. I told Tim, I would check it out and let him know. But to be sure I took a picture for comparison. Sure enough, they were wild parsnips. I sent Tim the information in an email.
Then a few days later, I saw a huge patch of the wild parsnips near the York bridge. And as I drove down the road today, I could see more patches here and there. There are a number of other roadside plants with yellow flowers blooming right now, but the flower head is quite unique. Seems to grow in the areas that the county does not mow because of the slope of the roadside or because of a hydro pole.
So if you are out and about in the countryside, please keep a watch out for this dangerous weed.
Monday, July 9, 2007
Several people have reported the adults eating the leaves of their grapes vines and other home landscape ornamentals. Japanese adult beetle will feed on a wide range of ornamental plants. They skeletonize foliage giving it the characteristic lacy look
Adult beetles can fly. This mobility makes it harder to control them. There are several insecticides registered for the adults. Treatments may need to be repeated to ensure adequate coverage of the plants' foliage.
Japanese beetle traps are one way to eliminate the adults. Rittenhouse says their trap is to attact male beetles, but they suggest not using the trap if you don't have a problem. This trap uses sex pheromones to attract the male beetle.
Upper Canada and Natural Insect Control have a trap that uses a floral attractant as well as a pheromone that lures both sexes.
Also nematodes are a consideration to control white grubs.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Today, we have finally gotten some much needed rain.
Last evening around 6 pm, we were at a picnic. Just as we started to eat, a few rain drops splattered here and there. It can rain all it likes in a couple of hours, I thought. It held off for the benefit of the picnickers.
This morning early, there were a few more drops, just enough to wet the ground everywhere. Then as I got to the office, it has been raining fairly steady all day (at least until mid afternoon).
This slow steady rain will be much more useful than a quick thundershower that pours down buckets in a short time. Much of that type of rain will not soak into the ground- much will end up running off into the storm sewers. An all-day rain will penetrate deeply.
Just in case the summer continues to be hot and dry here are some watering guidelines for your lawn. On the other hand, if giving you these tips help the rain to fall on a regular basis (once a week, preferably at night) then so much the better.
When watering your lawn, it's best to water at least one inch (2.5 cm) per week, preferably all at one time. Deep watering will encourage deep rooting which will help the lawn in dry weather. Frequent shallow watering discourages deep roots.
Watering in the mornings before the sun gets too hot is more efficient than watering during the heat of the day. A lot of water will be lost to evaporation. If you are paying for your water, why waste it.
Too much water can lead to fungus disease problems. Excessive moisture encourages soft succulent leaf blades that are more susceptible to disease infection.
Mow your lawn high. Set the blade so that it cuts the grass at 3 inches (7.5 cm) high . The longer leaf blades will shade the soil and the roots so less water is lost to evaporation. The cooler soil temperatures are also beneficial to the lawn.
Aerate your lawn each year (spring or fall) to improve water penetration. Apply a high-quality grass seed after the aeration to increase the lawn's density.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Chinch bugs can be very damaging to a lawn. As seen in the photo, they will eat the grass, but leave the weeds alone.
Chinch bugs are tiny insects about the size of an ant. Chinch bugs have short legs while ants have long legs. (I compare chinch bugs as roadsters and ants as monster trucks)
If you do end up with too many chinch bugs, the lawn will turn yellow. The chinch bugs suck the sap out of the grass plants. The lawn often looks as if it is lacking water, which in a sense it is. Watering the lawn just helps the grass to stay hydrated so that the chinch bugs can continue to feed.
Chinch bugs prefer the sunny areas of the lawn. I inspected a lawn once that was in front of a north facing building. Most of the lawn had been destroyed- except for about 8 feet near the building. The unusual thing was that the edge of the damage was in a nice neat straight line. I realized that the chinch bugs were happy to feed on the lawn in the sun, but stayed away from the lawn shaded by the building. (Now if they ran out of lawn in the sun, would they have gone to the lawn in the shade?)
We have found that an organic insecticide is usually effective in controlling the chinch bug damage.
We have realized that with insects and chinch bugs in particular that stopping the lawn from going brown is possible without necessarily eradicating all the chinch bugs.
More information on chinch bugs in our website library.
To go to our website
or to request a quote online
June 19/07 Jeff, one of our technicians found chinch bugs nymphs on a sunny lawn in Ancaster today. They had caused a patch about 3 feet in diameter to go yellow. Normally we think of July as the month for Chinch bug damage. I believe the warm weather of the past 3 weeks has hastened the maturity of the chinch bugs and also hastened the damage to the lawns.
Monday, June 11, 2007
These destructive pest
Gypsy Moth Caterpillar - these caterpillars are dark and hairy with a double row of 5 pairs of blue and 6 pairs of red spots from head to tail. They feed on many tree species. Favourites include birches, lindens, crabapples, mountain ash, willows, oaks, blue spruce and many other trees. Voracious feeders, these caterpillars have been known to defoliate trees.
Trap caterpillars by tying a band of burlap around tree trunks. Inspect daily and destroy caterpillars.
Use Acecaps to prevent damage or foliar treatments. These must be applied by a professional
Turf King uses either Acecaps for larger trees or an organic insecticide containing Neem oil to control the Gypsy Moth Caterpillar
To contact us www.hamilton.turfking.ca
or to request a quote online
or Phone 905.318.6677 or 1.888.TURFKING
See the CBS news report on these pests from YouTube
Monday, June 4, 2007
On an early morning walk through the golf course, these foot prints were visible in the dew on the fairway. I'm guessing a deer. There were a lot of deer seen along the roadways in the area as well.
We saw other foot prints- one looked like a raccoon with its tail dragging in the dew.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
When these grasses grow out by the farmer’s field, I don’t worry about them at all. They’re green and they don’t have yellow flowers. Around the patio, I’m a little more particular.
Last year I had a couple of clumps of thick bladed grasses growing near the back patio. In early April, I sprayed some glyphosate (Roundup) on the patch, then simply sprinkled grass seed into the grass. A day later, once that spray had dried, I watered the patch to wash the seed down to the soil level. In about ten days the unwanted grasses, along with the good grass in that spot, had turned yellow and started to die. Maybe it was the right weather, but by the end of 4 to 5 weeks, the new grass had sprouted and the patch slowly turned from a dead yellow patch into a spot of fresh new lawn. My memory is not as good as it was, so I won’t say that I didn’t throw some more grass seed down at a later date.
In your lawn, once the unwanted grass has turned yellow, (it should take 7-10 days), you can repair that area by putting in a piece of sod or by seeding that area with a good grass seed mix.
If you are going to seed and if it is a small area- slit the ground with a spade and drop the seed into the slits. The seed in the slits should be protected from drying out. You can see the slits I have made in the second photo. I'll try to remember to take pictures as the seed sprouts.
Friday, May 18, 2007
There have been a couple of articles in Hamilton Spectator about the Gypsy Moth Caterpillars.
I was at a home in Ancaster today. Found a baby caterpillar on a fruit tree. These little guys can be voracious feeders and given enough time and enough caterpillars a tree can be defoliated by these critters.
Please keep your eyes open for signs of leaves with holes in them. And for sightings of the caterpillars themselves.
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Monday, May 14, 2007
We were in
1. Keep your lawn thick and healthy. The thicker the lawn, the less likely it will be to allow crabgrass a chance to sprout.
A note on phenology. I didn’t see very many of the flowering trees or shrubs in bloom while in
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The Scotch thistle is the easy one. Although if left to flourish it can reach a height of 3 feet, it normally will tolerate being mowed. Its purple flowers are large and interesting. It is dark green in colour and has a wider leaf than the Canada thistle. It grows as a single plant and one could dig it up and remove it. It also is easy to control with the usual lawn weed killers.
The Canada thistle is the toughie. It has a lighter green foliage that is narrow. It can also reach heights of 3 feet and also has purple flowers. Both thistles have seeds like dandelions that can blow in the wind. In the summer, I have been driving along some city roads when the air is full of the seeds blowing in the wind, much like dandelions parachuting their way into new territory. I know they are thistles because the seed heads can be seen along the roadsides where the weeds have not been cut.
Canada thistle spread by underground rhizomes. Rhizomes are underground stems. If you see one Canada thistle, it is likely attached by a rhizome to another plant a little ways away. If you are planning to dig out the Canada thistle, make sure to dig out the rhizome. If you don’t it will regrow, and you will still have thistles. Canada thistle does not respond well to herbicides. The plants will be killed off, but often the rhizomes continue to live and soon it will send up new sprouts from underground. Only continuous attacking of the Canada thistle will suffice to eradicate this pest from your lawn or garden.
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