While grubs aren’t typically the first creature we think of when it comes to pre-hibernation feasting, the reality is that your lawn becomes a banquet table to these nasty pests during the fall months. Stocking up on food, they’ll then dig in a good 4-8 inches once the cold sets in and stay put. As a result of this late year gorging, grubs won’t typically look to eat much come spring thus negating the effectiveness of any grub control products you may apply once the ground begins to thaw. For best effectiveness, kill lawn grubs this fall. This will give your lawn the best chance at a strong and healthy Spring.
How to tell if your lawn has Grubs
As your lawn greens up in the Spring, look for brown patches that never seem to get healthy. If you have a well watered lawn, these can signal the presence of grubs with damage having been done the previous Fall. To confirm your suspicion, lift up a piece of the turf. If it easily rolls up or you see no roots below the soil level, grubs have been here. Also, have you noticed your lawn has become a feeding ground for neighborhood critters? Skunks, Birds, Racoons and Armadillos all love grubs and will tear up your lawn to get them (they also like earthworms, so confirm you have grubs using the above method before applying pesticides).
How To Kill Grubs
The “when” of your grub treatment plan is just as essential to the “how”. It’s important to understand the grub life cycle so your applications are timed to be the most effective. Young grubs are most susceptible to pesticides when newly hatched and feeding, which means mid to late summer and early fall. As for the “how”, there are 2 options in terms of the types of treatment; Preventative vs. Curative.
Preventative pesticides will eradicate a pest over a longer period of time, while Curative treatments are designed for “kill on contact”. While the preventative will kill the grubs currently present in your lawn, it will also kill those yet to hatch. This may sound appealing, and it is, but it’s important to keep in mind these types of pesticides are high in nitrogen and require regular lawn watering to prevent a “summer burn”.
Grub Treatment Options
Curative Pesticide Treatments – As previously mentioned, this the plan of attack to rid your lawn of it’s current grub infestation, and fast. Bayer’s 24 hour Grub Killer Plus is formulated to work overnight while killing on contact. Used at the first sign of grubs, this product should be thoroughly watered in after application.
Preventative Pesticide Treatments – Designed for long term effectiveness, these product types should be considered as part of an overall turf treatment program. Rather than waiting until your lawn is infested, be proactive with a product like Bayer’s Season Long Grub Control with Merit or Bonide’s Annual Grub Killer
Go Organic – While the above options are safe and very effective when used appropriately, some homeowners will appreciate an organic approach. Designed by the USDA in the 1940′s to kill grubs from the inside-out using beneficial bacteria, St. Gabriel Organics Milky Spore Grub Control Powder has a lasting affect – as in 15 years lasting. The grub killing bacteria will multiply into billions of spores and accumulate in your lawn while continuing to fight the good fight. Safe for use around people & pets.
Give ‘em the Spikes – If you are looking for the non-pesticide route, this is it. Studies have shown that walking repeatedly over freshly watered lawn (water will attract the grubs to the surface) with Aerating Spikes can significantly diminish grub populations by “running them through”. For this to work optimally you’ll want to water 1/4″ -1/2″ the day before and make approximately 3-5 passes over lawn with the spikes.
Dethatch Your Lawn- Not only is thatch an eyesore, it’s creates a protective barrier between the grubs and your treatment plan. Take a look at any thatch in your lawn, and if thicker than 3/4″, you’ll want to take action. For more on this, read our post on how to dethatch your lawn.
Watering Strategy- Grubs like moist soil with thin grass. Infrequent, deep lawn watering promotes dense turf and long roots, which hinders grub activity. Additionally, this watering practice discourages adult beetles from laying grub-hatching eggs in your lawn.
Overseeding – While you probably know that Early Spring and Fall are the ideal times to seed your lawn, the practice of overseeding leads to a thicker lawn thereby discouraging grub activity. You’ll also have the added benefit of keeping at bay various broadleaf weeds.
Have A Plan
While grubs are certainly a nuisance and can wreak havoc on your lawn, you can eliminate them with the right timing and product choice. For specifics around the exact ”when” and “how” as it pertains to your geographic region, we suggest contacting your local extension office. They’ll be able to provide additional specifics to help you be as successful as possible.