Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Expert tips to save your lawn from the chafer beetle

Give your lawn its best chance to repel the chafer beetle before they become a problem. Photos by Julie Cheng

Give your lawn its best chance to repel the chafer beetle before they become a problem. Photos by Julie Cheng

BY SOREN ELSAY

If there is one thing that homeowners love as much as their home, it’s their lawn. It’s often the most noticeable part of someone’s landscape and often functions as a convenient spot for mini soccer matches or picnics.

Lawns are also under attack in Vancouver. Thanks to the notorious chafer beetle, people across the Lower Mmainland are seeing their beloved grass shredded, seemingly overnight. While it may seem inevitable, there are a few tactics that you can take to reduce the chances that your lawn faces the same fate that so many others have fallen to.

The chafer beetle is not in fact the animal responsible for tearing up your lawn; rather, the chafer beetle is the catalyst for the destruction of people’s green pride and joy.

Crows and raccoons dig up your lawn to get at the delicious little white grubs.

Crows and raccoons dig up your lawn to get at the delicious little white grubs.

The beetle lays its larva roughly two to four inches under the grass, unnoticeable to the naked eye. What is noticeable is when the local wildlife comes searching for the delicious little white grubs, and your lawn is the only thing standing in their way. Mostly through crows, which shred lawns small chunk by small chunk, and racoons, which peel back the grass in large patches, this wildlife is virtually unstoppable once they decide that your lawn in the source of their next meal.

If you are looking for a way to ensure your lawn stays flawless then artificial turf is the only sure bet in this day and age. For those who want to keep the natural look but don’t want to go down without a fight, there are a couple of things that can be done to mitigate the chance of the chafer beetle battle playing out in your yard.

Keep your lawn healthy

The best protective measures are the preemptive ones, which is to say, give your lawn its best chance to repel the chafer beetle before they become a problem.

This means maintaining a healthy lawn and keeping your grass slightly longer than you normally would. Healthy, thick, longish grass is the best defence against the beetle getting into the soil, as the healthier and longer the grass, the heartier the root system and the harder it is for the beetle to penetrate the outer layer.

Proper aeration and topsoil applied early in the season, as well as continued watering and fertilization are factors that can lead to a thick, healthy lawn. While many people love the golf-green-style short grass, I would recommend keeping your grass at least three inches long. It may not offer the crisp look of super-short grass, but it beats witnessing the slow destruction of your lawn.

Superbugs to the rescue

Nematodes are a non-toxic, organic way to rid your lawn of chafer beetles.

Nematodes are a non-toxic, organic way to rid your lawn of chafer beetles.

If your lawn does fall victim to the local wildlife, not all hope is lost. Nematodes are microscopic living organisms that feed on other living organisms (like the chafer beetle larva) and are easily applied. Available at most large lawn and garden care centres, nematodes are a non-toxic, organic way to rid your lawn of pests.

Applied by mixing into water that gets sprayed evenly across the lawn, nematodes are biological warfare at its most basic level. It is important to note that once applied, nematodes require constant watering, often more than summer water restrictions allow. A City of Vancouver permit will allow you to get an exemption from these bylaws.

Soren Elsay has worked as a professional landscaper. He is an aspiring writer with a bachelor of arts from the University of British Columbia.

Copyright (c) 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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3 easy tips to get your lawn and garden going this spring

Topdress-lawn

The new soil from topdressing will integrate itself into the existing material in a matter of weeks, and your lawn will thank you for it. Photos by Julie Cheng

BY SOREN ELSAY

The long-awaited end to winter is finally upon us and with it comes a fresh start for your lawn and garden. Whether you loved your garden and lawn last year or would rather forget that aspect of 2017, spring is the ideal time to set yourself up for a successful green season.

While the warming weather might seem like enough to get your lawn and garden going, there are a handful of things you can do to set yourself up for a satisfying year in your own personal green space.

Topdress your lawn and garden

Topdressing is the act of adding fresh (preferably richly composted) soil to both your lawn and garden. The best part of topdressing is how easy it is to do.

For your lawn, simply apply a thin, roughly half-inch layer evenly on top of your grass. Once applied, simply let it slowly consolidate into the existing soil layer. It may be visually jarring when you first see your nice green lawn coated in composted soil, but fear not, the new soil will integrate itself into the existing material in a matter of weeks, and your lawn will thank you for it.

In your garden, apply the fresh soil by digging down  four to six inches into your existing garden bed and blend your old soil with the new, composted material.

For both the lawn and garden, the topsoil will give a much-needed nutrient boost after the long winter.

Aerate your lawn

Manual aerating tools

Manual aerating tools. The holes from aerating allow nutrients from both the air and from moisture to penetrate your lawn with more ease.

Filed into the landscaping category of “short-term hit in exchange for long-term gain,” aerating your lawn will do wonders for your grass later in the season.

While there are a number of techniques for aerating a lawn, the basic premise is the same: puncturing holes in the ground in order to improve circulation amongst the roots. By breaking up the ground, these holes allow nutrients from both the air and from moisture to penetrate your lawn with more ease.

The most common machine used for this procedure is an aerator, which resembles a snowblower but instead of spitting snow, pulls out four-to-six-inch plugs of lawn and leaves them behind. If you don’t want to rent an aerator, or are looking for a new workout fad, pitchforks have been known to work as well, though at a much less efficient pace.

If you are planning on topdressing your lawn as well, make sure to aerate first before laying on the topsoil layer. The aeration will allow for quicker and easier absorption of the new soil.

Plant new or transplant

Although Vancouver has the reputation as a wet city, the rainfall that we receive in the non-winter months is actually significantly less than your garden needs. That is why the spring is ideal for both planting new items as well as transplanting existing ones to another spot in your garden. Once the summer rolls around, keeping the ground moist enough for a freshly installed plant to thrive is very tough, so take advantage of still-wet conditions before it’s too late.

When it comes to transplanting, always make sure to fill the new hole fully with water and then let it drain before putting the plant in the ground. This will ensure that the roots will remain hydrated while they are disturbed and at their most vulnerable. Continued watering after a transplant is also key to ensure a smooth transition.

Soren Elsay is a Vancouver-based professional landscaper. He is an aspiring writer with a bachelor of arts from the University of British Columbia.

Copyright (c) 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News