Frequently Asked Questions

Insects and Pests

These are some of the common insects and pests that are found on lawns in the Michigan region.  All of these are readily treated by our Insect and Pest Treatment.

Sod Webworms

Sod webworms usually have one to two generations per year with the summer generation of larvae causing the most damage. The larvae spend the winter as a partially grown larva buried several inches deep in the soil. At the approach of warm weather in the spring, the larvae move upward and begin feeding on the lush spring growth of grass. The bluegrass, larger and striped sod webworms finish their feeding in late May to early June. At this time they burrow deeper into the thatch or soil to pupate. After 10 to 14 days, the new adult moths emerge at night to mate and lay eggs. Mated females lay most of their eggs on the second night by randomly dropping the eggs into the turf. The larvae from these eggs feed through July into early August before pupating again. The second generation of adult moths appears in late July through August. Since the turf is usually slowly growing at this time, sod webworm feeding can cause considerable damage. The second generation of larvae feed in September until October but damage is rarely detected because the turf has begun to grow rapidly again.

Chinch Bugs

Although tiny (1/4 inch or less), lawn chinch bugs can ruin a lawn in short order. The bugs become active in the spring, as weather warms up, and become progressively more destructive the drier it gets.  Symptoms of bug infestation include irregular areas of yellow and brown in sunny areas usually adjacent to sidewalks, driveways, curbs, or patios. Yellow and brown spots will also appear on leaf blades and stems.

Bill Bugs

The Bill Bug larvae burrow into the stems where there is moisture. They then feed on the turf grasses roots, rhizomes and shoots puncturing the plants tissues as they go. As the turf grass' stems and crowns die they form irregular brown patches. The Bill Bug adults feed on the stems and leaf blades causing only minor damage.  In late May the females deposit their eggs in the stem area just above the crown.  Their newly hatched larvae appear in late May and June feeding inside the turf grass' stem.

Army Worms

Army worms are moth larvae (caterpillars) that are pests of lawns and turf areas in the Midwest and southern states. They are called army worms because they 'march' in quantity over an area, feeding on lawns in large masses and moving to the next grassy area as one to continue feeding on leaf blades.

Grub Control

It's late summer and your once lush lawn may now be looking wilted and brown. While the solution could be as simple as a good watering to bring your lawn back to life, it could be that there are destructive insects feeding on your grass roots.

About an inch long and c-shaped with white bodies and brown or yellow heads, lawn grubs are the adolescent phase of a variety of beetles. Their voracious appetites can easily destroy the healthiest lawn in a matter of months. Identifying a grub infestation before it spirals out of control is critical in preventing the destruction of your lawn.

Preventing grub damage

Preventing grub damage starts with preventing grubs themselves. Closely monitor your lawn as summer advances. Watch for adult beetles flying about your yard. They are looking for a place to lay eggs and often choose full-sun green lawn areas with adequate to good soil moisture. Even if the weather has been dry, a watered lawn is a prime target for egg laying, but it doesn't have to be. Back to Nature offers a 2-Step Grub Control program.

How do I know if I have grubs in my lawn?

The first sign of grub damage in your lawn will be the wilting of your turf. Your lawn may look as if it is in need of water. As the grubs continue to feed, you will begin to see irregular-shaped brown spots. Strips of dead grass will easily peel away as if rolling back a carpet. Another sign of grubs is damage from skunks and raccoons digging up lawns in search of grubs to eat, usually at night.

If your lawn is infested you'll have to do some renovation work in early fall.  Contact us now to schedule a Spring/Fall Renovation. 

The Cure

The best method of control is our two-step insecticide grub program. This involves a spring insecticide to control adults, followed by a mid-summer insecticide to control the new hatchling grubs that may be present. The second treatment should give the necessary control for the rest of the season.

Understanding Grubs

A grub's life cycle starts in summer with the hatching of eggs laid from the May beetle or often called June bug. Once eggs hatch the babies develop during July and August and begin feeding on the turf's roots, and damage becomes visible in September and October. The Fall Grub Preventative (applied in mid-summer) kills baby grubs before adulthood and prevents turf damage in fall. During the winter grubs do NOT die, they hibernate and once soil temps reach 55-60 degrees in spring they wake up as full adults and do serious damage to truf in a short period of time. To eradicate the adult grubs and stop further turf damage the Spring Grub Curative needs to be applied.

Proper Mowing Benefits the Turf

One of the most important factors in developing a fun, well-manicured lawn is the use of proper mowing techniques. Good mowing practices improve the quality of the turf, reduce weed infestation, help control water consumption, and lessen weather-related stress.

By the same token, improper mowing is the cause of more lawn problems than any other maintenance practice. If you follow a few important guidelines when mowing, you can help the turf develop into a more healthy, attractive lawn.

To get the most out of the grounds you care for, remember these tips:

Be sure your mower is set at the right height

The recommended mowing height is three to four inches. Cool-season grasses, like we have In Michigan, should be mowed taller than warm-season grasses. Hot weather is a stress for cool-season grasses. Extra foliage helps protect the ground against heat and furnishes a more food-producing area. Cutting the grass too short and infrequently will cause it to be thin and weak, and it will eventually be taken over by weeds. Exceeding the recommended length will cause the grass to become stemmy, coarse, and it may mat down. Remember to check cutting blade height on a flat surface before mowing.

Cut only one-third of the leaf surface

Schedule your mowing so as to remove only one-third of the leaf surface at any one time. Removing too much of the leaf at one cutting is a severe shock to the grass. This causes thinning, curtailment of root growth, excessive clippings and unnecessary watering for the grass to recover. Additionally, cutting grass that has grown too long is hard on equipment, requires more fuel, and takes longer to mow. You should make an effort to mow often enough to avoid excessive clippings. If you only cut 1/3 of the grass blade each time, it is not necessary to pick up the clippings. They put almost 25% of your fertilizer back into the soil, as well as retaining more moisture in the lawn since 80% of a grass blade is water.

Keep the mower blade sharp

The key to a quality job is a sharp blade. Dull blades beat and tear the grass and leave frayed leaf tips, which turn brown. Sharp blades cut cleaner and quicker with less power. Inspect the blades often for nicks and dullness, and sharpen them often.

Mow at a different angle each time

You should make a point of mowing in a different direction each time to help avoid soil compaction and turf wear caused by the mower wheels. Repeatedly throwing clippings on uncut grass is harder on the mower, wastes fuel and does a poor job of cutting.

Proper Watering

How You Water Your Lawn Can Make A Difference

During periods of drought conditions it is important that you water your lawn. If drought conditions extend too long, the grasses will react defensively to this and move into a dormancy state. They "harden off" in order to prevent complete loss of vital cell moisture. Once this dormancy state occurs, it takes 2-3 weeks of sustained moisture before the plants revive themselves.

Sometimes certain localized areas in the lawn become baked and dryed out to the extent that they become "hydrophobic". In this state water is not absorbed and simply runs off. When this occurs it can be remedied by aerating these areas, or also apply a soapy detergent which will help break down the hydrophobic condition and allow water to be absorbed.

How Important Is It?

Adding water to the lawn should be given high priority in your lawn management program. With the proper use of water, maximum benefit can be derived from each gallon, and the quality and appearance of the turf can be improved. During dry weather money spent for water on a well-managed lawn will eliminate or reduce costly lawn renovation later in the fall.

Water comprises about 80 to 90 percent of the structure of a grass plant and is therefore a very important element for proper growth and continued good appearance. It is essential that adequate moisture be maintained in the soil to replace that lost to drainage, evaporation and plant consumption.

When Should I Water?

Checking the soil and the turf itself is the only way to determine when water is needed and to follow a proper watering program. Evidence of a blue-gray color and/or "foot-printing" on the turf is an indication that wilt is imminent. Another guide is the use of a soil probe to check the soil moisture content and distribution in the upper six inches of the soil. Watering on a regular basis will protect your grass from many harmful conditions. Healthy grass is more resistant to natural problems.

How Much Should I Water?

To check the discharge of your sprinkler, place three or more straight-sided cans in a line at intervals out from the sprinkler. Place the can nearest the sprinkler no closer than eight to ten feet. When the average depth of water in the three cans is one to 1 1/2 inches, sufficient water has been applied.

The rate of application should not exceed the rate that the soil can absorb it, or water may rest on the surface. This surface water could lead to compaction of the soil, scald and submersion injury, and general deterioration of the turf. Persistently wet soils give rise to weeds such as nutsedge, poa trivialis and others.

What is the Right Time of Day?

Many lawnkeepers disagree over what time of day to water. So you'll find there is much to be said either for or against any particular time. However, don't believe the popular fallacy that grass is harmed if watered during the middle of the day when the sun is hottest. Early morning or late afternoon watering may be preferable to late evening. Watering at night allows water droplets to remain on the leaves for an extended period, resulting in greater disease problems.