Last week I saw something which I consider comedic gold in the lawn care industry. There was a lawn loaded with dandelions that had a Liberal election sign on it, Joe Dickson of Ajax I believe, and the home owner was bent over from the waist with a bottle of Weed B Gon in one hand spraying the hell out of the invasive yellow weeds. If only I could've taken a picture, but sadly, I was driving at the time.
With the election looming I thought it might be a good idea to explore the truths, twisted-truths and lies about the products and practices that encompass your lawn.
One thing I have come to know as the only absolute in the lawn care industry since the ban went into effect...oh so long ago, is you can't believe what anyone says.
I hope in posting this I can perhaps shed a little light on certain cultural practices and products and dispel various myths about lawn care in general as we stand on the battlements trying to hold back the constant invasion of weeds and insects attacking the castle walls.
So...is it true , or is it false?
"Fiesta is a weed killer"- False - but Neudorff wouldn't sell so much Fiesta, nor Scott's Weed-B-Gon if people knew they were buying a control, not a killer. Fiesta kills only the top of the weed, the tap root remains unaffected. As everyone knows- if you don't get the root, you don't get the weed. So don't listen to that silly Scottish sod in the commercial.
Fortunately for these guys these products are the best controls available on the market currently and there's always corporate to hide behind when disgruntled customers come calling.
The only truth here is, any companies claiming they kill weeds are...how should I put this...blatantly twisting the truth to their advantage.
"Nematodes can be applied as soon as the soil temperature reaches 12 Celsius"- True- but in the spring grubs are too big for nematodes to control effectively. You get 30% control, if you're lucky, when applied correctly. I don't care what strain of nematode you are using the results are the same. So, chances are you'll be back in August to buy more. How convenient for the manufacturer.
This year I suspect grubs to be less of a problem due to the harsh winter, so save your money unless you are absolutely sure grubs are the issue.
"Corn Gluten prevents crab grass germination"- True, but only for 6 weeks when applied at 20lbs per 1,000 square feet and watered in to activate. Since you're putting it down in late April, early May, that takes you to about the end of June when the weather really starts to heat up and lo-and-behold you get crabgrass. That was money well spent especially when you are dealing with a commodity that is currently around $50 a bag. If I were you, I'd raise my mowing height to keep the soil temperature cooler and hold on until Opportune (the next crabgrass control) arrives on the market.
"Sodding is the way to go to repair a lawn"- True and False. If you want an instant fix and gratification, go for it. But be aware:
1) Sodding can be very expensive.
2) 90% of sod is made up of Kentucky Blue grass. Not really the grass for our climate. It doesn't have a deep root system and rings the dinner bell for insects. Grubs can move fast through KB and who knows, depending on where the rolls of sod are from, they may have already hitched a ride to your property.
3) If you don't baby the sod- water, water, water, and commit to an annual regimen of fall over-seeding, 2 years from now you'll probably be back at the same point of having to resod.
"Top soil and seeding is the better way to go"- True, but this course is not without it's pitfalls.
1) Choose the best quality seed, or risk putting more weeds back into your lawn. Spend the money. Get endophytic seed that has been tested for weed seeds and contains diverse species of grasses- fescues and perennial ryes.
2) Get the best screened triple mix, or better yet, use compost and peat moss, or - once again- risk putting more weeds back into your lawn.
"Core aeration must be done on an annual basis"- True, if you want to do everything you can to contribute to the health of your lawn. However, I advocate fall aeration is the best way to go and I am trying to convert my customers to this way of thinking. Aerations done in the spring generally lead to an increase of weed cover. There are 150 weed seeds lying dormant per square foot and you've just pulled those cores up and exposed them to favourable elements. Enough said.
"My neighbour doesn't do anything to his grass and it's beautiful"- False. A lawn doesn't just look immaculate without paying some attention to it. The weed faeries don't show up in the middle of the night and hand pull.
My lawn looks fantastic, yet I don't have time to get out there and work on it daily. To some this would mean I don't work on it at all.
That's not true. I fertilize regularly, I over-seed with endophytic Eco-Lawn grass seed in the fall so I don't have to water it as much. I aerate, (in the fall only to avoid excess weed growth in the spring), I keep my mower on the highest height and I keep on top of the weeds. When I see a weed, I spray it with Fiesta. Yet, if you were to see it up close, there are weeds in my lawn, but from the other side of the street...the grass is always greener right?
"If I try to bring back pesticides from the States they'll confiscate it at the border." -False. The border is Federal, the bylaw is Provincial- honestly, they don't care. They just want the duty if you have to pay it. Why even the bylaw states, "It's not illegal to have the product, just illegal to apply, or sell for ornamental purposes if you are not a golf course, or farmer, or sod grower, or.....
Hey I can be fined heavily for using it but what a customer does on his or her lawn when I'm not there is not my concern. Even the Ministry has told me they have no jurisdiction over what companies can tell their current or potential customer base, so have at it, if that what turns your crank?
Do I know if someone is cheating?....Absolutely...no weeds is a good tip-off...lawns I work on have far reduced weed cover, but no weeds...these days that's unheard of with out a little chemical help from the black market.
So that is the truth as I see it and maybe I've cleared up a few things for you? Unless you don't believe this Blog? Then I have nothing more to say.