Spotting grubs, those worm-like insects, on your lawn can feel unsettling. Grubs are not only unpleasant but also damage your lawn by living just below the grass and feeding on its roots. Follow these five tips when forming a game plan to get rid of grubs.
1. Check up on your lawn
If you have a grub problem, your lawn will show signs. Take a look at your lawn to see if can spot some of the major signs of grub infestation:
- Irregularly shaped brown patches of dead grass
- Holes in your lawn caused by birds and other animals digging in the grass
- Grass with no roots
- A spongy feeling when you walk on the lawn
2. Confirm you actually have a grub problem
Some of the issues listed above might be caused by a number of factors, including grubs. While they may be unpleasant, a few grubs are a natural part of any lawn. To determine whether grubs are causing your lawn issues, take a closer look underneath the surface by lifting one square foot section of sod two inches deep with a spade where the dead grass meets the green grass. Look for C-shaped bugs with legs on the inside of the body near the head.
If you find 5 to 10 grubs, it’s highly likely grubs are causing your lawn issues, and you need to take action to remove them.
3. Seed, fertilize and aerate your lawn
Your lawn can be your best defense against grubs, since they don’t tend to lay eggs in grass that’s long and thick. By seeding and fertilizing your lawn, you can repair any damage the grubs have done and prevent new ones from laying more eggs.
In the spring and fall, rake away dead grass from any brown patches. Water your lawn, then sprinkle new grass seed over any thin or dead areas. After reseeding, fertilize the lawn to help the new grass grow. It’s also a good idea to keep your grass about two inches long.
Aeration can also be an effective way to bring grubs under control, as it helps break through a layer of thatch that protects the grubs from birds and chemicals. After you aerate the lawn, walk around the lawn a few times with garden spike sandals. The spikes cut right through the grubs, helping you reduce the number of grubs.
4. Use nematodes to kill off grubs
Nematodes, officially known as heterorhabditis bacteriophora, are tiny parasites that invade grubs and release bacteria that destroy them. Use the nematodes in the late afternoon, and water your lawn immediately after applying them. Most general, garden and online stores sell nematodes.
5. Consider if chemicals are needed
Using nematodes is a long-term solution, and it can take up to three years to fully control your grub problem. An alternative method is to use synthetic chemicals, such as carbaryl and trichlorfon (Dylox). However, it’s important to remember that synthetic chemicals can be strong, dangerous to apply, and damaging to the environment.
Consult your local garden center for advice so that you use chemicals that are the least harmful for your pets, family and the environment. Make sure you wear gloves, a protective mask, and other safety gear when applying these chemicals.