Cranky Man’s Lawn ’13 – Grubs, a Cheap Skate, and Self-inflicted Wounds

I share this somewhat shameful chain of events as illustration that no one, least of all Cranky Man, is anywhere near perfect … 

Bane of my existence ... (

Bane of my existence …

Once upon a time there was a self-professed Lawn Guru, who proudly touted the Technicolor Green Coat that gently swaddled his little slice of surburban heaven.  He was a prolific font of turf grass knowledge and theory; yet he held a certain disdain for the clamoring Merchants of Lawn Care, eschewing their advice whenever he determined they were simply out to make a buck off his highly developed fear of Potential Lawn Disaster.

So, when the Lawn Care Merchants came to him with their dire warnings of bugs, grubs, and certain death of large swaths of his carefully tended turf, he poo-pooed their pricey solution; boldly straddled his lush green lawn carpet; and declared all within his sight, “Good and Green and snug as a bug … “

It was a poor choice of words.

Three months later the Lawn Guru emerged from the Other Side of Summer; placed both hands to his head; and screamed “What the …!!”

The Grubeths hath cometh.

Let’s recap …

  1. I’m definitely a tad overconfident when it comes to what I know and what I think I know.
  2. I’m cheap.
  3. I’m stubborn.

So it’s no real surprise that I look for those ways I might be trapped into putting out money I don’t necessarily have to spend.  This goes for my lawn like anything else.  So I tend to research what the real lawn experts suggest when it comes to the practical care and treatment of my Pride ‘n Joy (Non-Human Category).

Front lawn damage

Front lawn area
after removal and treatment

You try to be pragmatic by realizing no lawn damage could be so traumatic or tragic that a little recovery work couldn’t solve whatever problems you might cause by being a little cheap and a lot stubborn.

And certainly all of the above applies to this situation.

Some well-respected turf authorities suggest that unless you have a grub population on average of 12 per square foot of lawn, you do not have a serious grub problem.

So … cheap lawn guy that I am … I checked a few areas of my lawn over a few recent seasons and determined that my grub-per-square-foot population appeared well below the Problem Benchmark.  I had them, but they weren’t a big problem.  As a result, I have saved myself a few bucks in the recent past on what I felt were unnecessary grub treatments!

Still those nasty grubs can damage your lawn.  But at what point is that line where a little damage becomes too much damage?

The Answer:  When a) it makes the rest of the lawn look like crap, and b) I should have known better.

The REAL problem … actually I did know better.

Side yard damage

Side yard damage

It was in mid-June when I noticed quite a few very large green beetles (not your garden-variety Japanese beetles) cavorting wildly on and about the front yard.  I made a mental note to consider the benefits of applying a grub treatment.  Unfortunately, like many of my mental notes, the thought never re-appeared.

At least that’s my story.  And I’m sticking to it!  It’s a self-inflicted wound nonetheless …

The rest – as they say – is history.

Detection and Treatment:

Under normal conditions, you would treat for grubs in the weeks between Memorial Day and the 4th of July, when the beetles are getting a bit randy in their seasonal way.  But if you’re the cheap knucklehead like me, and wait until the damage is done …

Look for unexpected brown spots in your lawn.  These I found, and they bothered me because we had a fairly good Summer for lawns in our area.  Plenty of rain, cooler than normal temperatures, few long periods of intense summer heat …

Using a rake, see how much of the dead grass comes up easily.  If you can pull the grass up like a poorly installed carpet, you got problems … like I did.  Once a healthy grub population gets established, they eat your lawn’s root system.  Soon there will be nothing attaching said grass to Mother Earth aside from gravity, hence the hair hat effect.

One good tug and “Hello, baldy!”

Now in my case, I’m talking two areas of grass, roughly 9-foot and 16-foot square, where roughly half the area was affected, and a few much smaller spots here and there.  Not a huge problem, but one section was right out in front of the house and very, very noticeable.  So it would be a bit much to leave there untreated.

After peeling away the dead grass and removing the grubs, I threw down some seed and covered it with soil.  I’m hoping to take advantage of warmer-than-normal temperatures this week to generate a little growth before the grass goes dormant for Winter.

And next year I promise a grub treatment, cost be damned!

The Self-Inflicted Wound

Of course, once you think things are bad enough, you do something really stupid.  In my defense, the thing was freakin’ huge!

I don’t like spiders.  Actually what I really don’t like is cobwebs.  The spiders don’t bother me, so I don’t bother them … usually.  This was the exception.

One aspect of approaching Fall, I have found I really hate … Spider Season!  There’s nothing quite so disgusting as walking out the door in the morning, after a nice hot shower and dressed in freshly pressed cloths, right into a face full of cobweb.  Has to be the ickiest feeling known to Man.

My attacker (actual size)

My attacker (actual size)

Of course those dinner plate-sized marvels of filament engineering come with spiders the size of half-dollars!

Hence my problem that day.

The kicker?  I was pushing a hopper full of lawn weed ‘n feed!

You can imagine where this is going.

Head down, I’m plowing mindlessly along (Well, how else would I be doing this?) pushing 15-20 lbs. of weed killer and fertilizer across the lawn, right in front of the garden.  Suddenly I feel cobweb across my face and over my ear.

What’s worse is the tarantula still hanging on said web just in the periphery of my vision.  Not sure where he ended up, but he probably clung to my wildly spinning, thrashing body until his laughter caused him to lose his grip.

Little bastard …

Anyways, once I got every conceivable molecule of web off me, I turned back to find the hopper of weed ‘n feed on its side.  Half its cargo – at least – was sitting in a pile on the lawn.

Not good … No, not good at all.

It’s been a bad lawn week.


Suburban tragedy

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