GTI Lawn & Garden Letter

Entertaining advice for home gardeners with a focus on lawn and garden care and the outdoor gardening lifestyle. Suitable primarily for people living in northeastern North America and similar temperate climates in other parts of the world.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

GTI research plots - August, 2008

Mid-Summer Update

My apologies for the lengthy delay between posts to the GTI Lawn & Garden Letter blog. It has been a busy summer in the turf world. Here is a quick update on summer lawn maintenance issues. Farther down the page you will also find an announcement for our Trial Garden Open House which is taking place on Tuesday, August 19th. If you are in the Guelph area, please come by to see our facility and specifically the beautiful trial gardens. Each day I drive in the laneway to our research station I always make sure to roll down the window and breath in the marvelous scent of the thousands of annual and perennial flowers in bloom.

What's Up on the Lawn

The heavy rainfall this summer has resulted in a lot of mushroom growth on lawns. Mushrooms thrive on the moisture and grow on the dead organic material on the lawn. They are generally not a problem and are usually knocked down by regular mowing.

Good turf growth is masking most evidence of insect damage. Grubs are starting to become active. If you are considering nematodes for grub control, the application window is late August to early September. We have received some reports of chinch bug damage. Please refer to earlier postings about the method of detecting chinch bugs in your lawn using a coffee can with both ends removed. Damage is showing as fist sized dead patches in sunny areas of the lawn. There are no effective non-chemical controls for chinch bugs available. Consult with a local lawn care professional for control options available in your area.

Normally at this time of year lawns are dormant and fertilization is not recommended. This year is different as the turf has continued to grow through the summer. Now would be a good time for an additional fertilizer application to keep your lawn healthy and green through the rest of the summer and into fall.

It has been an exceptional year for crabgrass which is now showing as yellow-green coarse leaved turf in lawn areas. There is nothing you can do to control crabgrass now but make note of the areas of your lawn that are affected and plan to start a corn gluten meal program next year to control this annual lawn weed.

Broadleaved weeds are also having a banner year although they are usually less of a problem in well maintained lawns that receive adequate fertilization and are mown properly. You are likely aware that Ontario has introduced a cosmetic pesticide ban that will be coming into effect in the spring of 2009. It will severely limit your ability to control weeds and insect pests with chemical controls. There are some decent alternative controls on the market or in development. However, as this fall will likely be your last opportunity to use chemical herbicides, you may want to consider a final application to clean up your lawn as we move into a new era of lawn maintenance.

It will be very interesting to see how private and public lawns and gardens fare under a pesticide free regime. Most municipalities and home owners have made an effort to reduce their pesticide use but the final step will be somewhat challenging. Plan to pay closer attention to cultural management (mowing, watering, fertilizing, etc.) of your landscape. As most of our landscapes were designed with consideration to the availability of pesticides to control pest outbreaks, I suspect some significant redesign and rethinking of our private and public green spaces will be needed as well. We'll do our best to keep you informed of the latest developments in alternative pest management products as well as continue to provide you with reliable and proven garden management information.

University of Guelph’s 2008 Ornamental Trial Gardens Public Open House
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tours of the trials will be available throughout the day

What to see
• All America Selections Flower and Bedding Plant Trial
• over 500 different ornamentals for containers and ground beds - vote on your favourites !
• Blooms of Bressingham perennial trial
• Vanhof and Blokker perennial trial
• lily perennialization trial
• boulevard planting trial
• field-grown cutflower trial
• ornamental grass garden

Free Speaker Program
1-2:00pm - The Future of Pest Control in Guelph’s Gardens
6-7:00pm - Boulevards and Bylaws

Get answers all day to:
- pest control problems from Guelph’s new Healthy Landscape Technician
- gardening questions from the Guelph/Wellington Master Gardeners

Cutflower Workshop (3-4:30 pm)
Connie Dam-Byl will once again lead a flower arranging workshop using flowers from the
garden. A registration fee of $10.00 will be charged to cover the cost of the flowers you will take
home with you. There are only 20 workshop spaces available so register early. (See below for
registration contact information)

Where: Guelph Turfgrass Institute, 328 Victoria Rd. S. (at College Ave.)
(Free admission and parking)

For workshop registration or more information
please contact Rodger Tschanz at (519) 824-4120 ext. 52788 or by email at:
web site: