Looking for organic ways to care for your lawn? Follow this tip for a healthier lawn and control Japanese beetles and grubs at the same time.
Do Japanese Beetles decimate plant foliage in your gardens? Do you have spots in your lawn caused by grubs? Japanese beetle and grub damage are a major problem to many homeowners. But there is an effective way to address the problem permanently and organically.
I’ve been battling Japanese beetles for years.
They have decimated my roses and destroyed the raspberry foliage.
And I tried everything to control them.
From bait traps to a plain old bucket of soapy water, nothing was effective at reducing the population or controlling the overall problem.
While I was studying to become a Master Gardener, one of the classes was about lawn care and turf management.
Although the class focused on how to care for your lawn, Japanese beetle and grub control was probably one of the biggest takeaways.
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Organic Lawn Care Studied by Rutgers Cooperative Extension Study
To be more specific, we were learning what grass seed variety works best with summer drought conditions and helps control grub and Japanese Beetle problems.
And the results are really interesting.
The Rutgers Cooperative Extension did a study on several different types of grasses. After growing and studying the different varieties, Tall Fescue has a much deeper root system (about 18″ to be exact) than Kentucky Bluegrass, Ryegrasses, etc.
Since Tall Fescue has a deeper root system, it is more drought tolerant and held up better in summer conditions.
But that’s not all!
They found that Japanese beetles were less likely to lay their eggs in this particular variety.
To understand why this is important, we need to understand their lifecycle. For those that don’t know, Japanese beetles eat garden plants and then lay eggs in your lawn that later become grubs that feed off the lawn roots.When those grubs hatch, they become Japanese beetles that will eat garden plants.
So, the theory is, the less eggs laid in the lawn ultimately helps control grubs in the lawn and beetles in the garden.
Now, that is not to say that they don’t lay any eggs in Tall Fescue, because they do.
However, the study showed Japanese beetles preferred to lay eggs in grass varieties with a more shallow root system such as Kentucky Bluegrass, Ryegrasses, etc. Therefore, it follows that the damage to Tall Fescue lawns and surrounding gardens will be less than properties with other grass varieties.
So…the takeaway is – if we do not provide an ideal habitat for Japanese beetles to lay eggs, they will move on to someone else’s yard.
Effective Lawn Care Organic Tip
Overseeding My Lawn From Kentucky Bluegrass to Tall Fescue
Prior to taking this class, Japanese beetles decimate the foliage in my gardens.
There were so many of them.
They were all over my plants.
It was terrible!
After this taking this class, I changed my lawn from Kentucky Bluegrass to Tall Fescue. I started overseeding the lawn in late summer/fall of that year, then overseeded it again in spring.
The following summer, I noticed there were less Japanese Beetles in my gardens.
And let me tell you, the problem used to be so bad before changing the grass over, that I would literally see four beetles mating on top of one another on one leaf.
It was gross!
Since I found success that first year, I overseeded the lawn again in late summer/early fall and again in early spring to keep the change going.
By next summer, I saw very few Japanese Beetles in my gardens!
It was truly amazing!
And to this day, Japanese Beetles and grubs are not a major issue in my lawn and gardens.
Why You Should Avoid Chemicals and Treat Lawn Care Organic
As someone who changed the grass variety for the purposes of controlling Japanese beetles, let me tell you, this method really works.
Not only did it control the japanese beetle and grub problem in my yard, but the lawn was more resilient during summer droughts.
While I cannot say that changing the grass variety completely eradicated the Japanese beetle problem, there has been a significant reduction in the population. My Raspberries, Roses and Salvia look so much better now and I don’t worry about the beetles decimating the gardens anymore.
Overall, it took roughly two years to fully change the grass over. I realize it is a long-term fix but it is worth the time and investment.
If you do not live in the New Jersey area, please check with your local cooperative extension about what grass works best in your area. Tall Fescue may be the best option for you as well.
Pheromone Traps Don’t Work
People still tell me they are effective but they really aren’t.
Sure you will find beetles in the traps, but these things actually attract more to your yard.
So it kind of defeats the purpose of using them?
And if your neighbor is using them, guess what? They will attract more beetles to your yard too. It is far more productive to change the lawn over to a grass variety that will better protect your lawn and garden.
Bucket of Soapy Water is a Good Organic Temporary Solution
While it is effective to stand out there with a bucket of soapy water and knock beetles off the leaves into the buckets, that will only temporarily save the gardens.
Plus it’s a lot of work to maintain in the heat of summer when Japanese beetles are at their worst.
Prior to changing my grass variety, I used to do this almost daily to protect my plants.
Since overseeding the lawn with Tall Fescue, I do not do this anymore because there are so few out there.
Milky Spore is an Effective Organic Japanese Beetle and Grub Control
While I have not personally used milky spore, I know several people who have and swear by the effectiveness. It takes a while for it to work, but give it shot if you want to try it.
The Secret to Controlling Japanese Beetles and Grubs
To address Japanese Beetles and grub control effectively means we need to take a long-term approach to management. Whether you change your grass variety or apply milky spore, it is better to permanently reduce and control their population with organic lawn care than to put a band-aid on it with bait traps and buckets of soapy water.
By following a long-term approach, we permanently control the overall problem and significantly reduce the use of pesticides in the lawn.
And who doesn’t want to do that, right?
What Do You Think?
Isn’t it amazing that by simply changing the grass variety we can reduce the population of both beetles and grubs?
In addition to better protecting my lawn and garden, one of the best reasons for making this change is it reduces the need for pesticides.
So many homeowners pay for lawn services that blindly apply chemicals to lawns to keep them lush and green. These chemicals leach into the environment and affects wildlife, plants, water and our health!
Please take grub care services off of the lawn service list and change your grass variety.
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