Chewed up lawn? Could be Chafer Beetle Damage

This is the time of year when landscapers aerate and power rake clients’ lawns. Those litttle plugs that the aerator leaves behind can leave lawns looking a little unsightly for a few weeks, but the health of the lawn is improved by allowing more air, water and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots.

What about the other unsightly lawn damage that we are seeing in Vancouver at this time of year? Lawns that look like they have been torn up by some heavy-duty machinery then left for dead most likely have an infestation of Chafer Beetle. Here’s a photo of Chafer damage on a Kitsilano lawn this week.

chaferlawn

While many homeowners think that crows and racoons are responsible for the damage, they are really just foraging an already damaged lawn for a free meal of juicy chafer beetle grubs. I have seen quite a few of these grubs in the soil and in lawns in gardens around Kitsilano this winter and at the monent they are big and fat! Great for hungry crows and other critters.

So what is the Chafer Beetle doing to lawns?

Females lay eggs in lawns in June and July. As the grubs hatch from the eggs in the following weeks, they start to feed on grass roots, feeding right through the winter until the following spring. Their feeding leaves grass lying loose, without its roots to anchor it to the soil. Crows, racoons and skunk easily rip up the rootless grass to get at the grubs. This cycle continues until the grubs pupate and emerge as adults in the summer, and the cycle begins again.

What can be done about Chafer Beetle damage?

As with many pest infestations that affect our garden plants and soil, there is no quick-fix solution for Chafer Beetle damage. In previous years, I have seen many lawns with netting over the lawn, or  CD’s stuck in the lawn. While these can work in scaring away birds and racoons, they don’t deal with the actual problem which is the grubs eating the roots. In fact, by preventing the birds and raccons from eating the grubs we are stopping them from providing a free pest control service. The only control that is allowed in Vancouver, which has a ban on the use of cosmetic pesticides, is the use of nematodes. When added to the lawn during a brief window of time in July these parasites burrow into the body of the chafer beetle grub and kill them. Here’s a video of my collegaue, Maria Keating at City Farmer, explaining how to apply the nematodes.

Nematodes are available in garden stores in early July. Often you will need to add your name to a list as supplies can be limited. If you would like us at Growing in the Garden to apply nematodes to your lawn, please contact us.

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Children’s Gardening Workshops 2015

I will be running a series of children’s gardening workshops at City Farmer in Kitsilano starting this spring.The workshops will give kids the chance to learn about nature hands-on, at City Farmer’s organic demonstration garden in Kitsilano.

Children will learn about the lifecycle of the garden in six workshops running from Spring to Fall:

  • Sunday May 10th – Spring Planting
  • Sunday June 7th – Worms in the Garden
  • Sunday July 5th – Bugs and Bees
  • Sunday August 9th – Flowers
  • Sunday Sept 13th – Fall Harvesting
  • Sunday October 4th – Putting the Garden to Bed and Seed Saving

Workshops run from 9.30am – 11.00am. $20 per workshop or $100 for all six. Contact City Farmer at 604 736 2250 to register.

Childrens Workshops

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Forsythias are Blooming in Vancouver

forsythiaWe are experiencing an early spring in Vancouver this year. After what always seems like a long, wet winter, it is lovely to see the first signs of spring. In Vancouver, one of the first signs is the beautiful bright yellow blooms of Forsythia. That we go from having very little colour in the garden to having such vibrant yellow is a real awakener for the senses.

The arrival of Forsythia’s blooms is more than just some welcome colour at the end of winter; it’s an important indicator for some important gardening tasks. Here in Vancouver, when we see the Forsythia in bloom, we know it’s time to prune our roses. More specifically, it’s time to prune our Hybrid Tea and floribunda roses.

The timing of pruning roses is important: prune too soon and you risk losing new spring buds to a late frost, prune too late and you will lose all important sap that has already started circulating around the plant to kick-start the season’s growth. So, if you have noticed those beautiful yellow blooms in gardens in your area, it’s time to get out your pruners.

Not sure how to prune roses?

Here’s an easy read article on how to prune roses. Here’s a short video of a gardener pruning a rose. The quality of the video isn’t the best, but the gardener gives a good, basic overview of how to approach pruning.

Still not sure how to prune your roses in Vancouver? Contact us at Growing in the Garden to find out about our garden maintenance services.

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