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She wants to use Grubex -- potentially toxic to bees, kind of a drag

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Grubex! Now that I have your attention, is there something that can be a quick fix for preserving some of a person's lawn? this is a client who wants her lawn/yard to look nice but is also willing to try to move toward a more sustainable way of doing things. She's paying me just to do yard work, but I am trying to go the extra mile and make a difference, so I am looking to help her take manageble steps in the direction of sustainability (which to me means, ultimately, growing food not grass), rather than trying to make jumps too big and getting overwhelmed. The grub "problem" started when the tree shading the lawn was cut down. She's willing to forego front lawn for mulch, but wants to keep the side lawn. I would really really rather not use this stuff, and don't feel comfortable having it near me, so she's willing to do that part...but I'd rather not have something that is toxic enough to drive moles away be added to the ecosystem if there's any alternative. I await your genius answers. Again, this person is not a permaculturist, not ready to just see grubs as chicken feed--she is a professional, has a home office where she sees clients, and needs to have her lawn look a certain way (this is her belief system). What can be done in the given situation? Thanks so much.
 
John Elliott
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Beneficial nematodes.

You can buy a commercial product at Home Depot that will get ahead of the grubs. Tell her it is the latest thing in golf course management, and once the nematodes are established, the effects are long-lasting. Poisons, once they are decomposed by soil fungi, are no longer there and when re-infestation happens (which it will), more poison has to be applied.
 
Chris Lyons
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Here is an article on the use of Milky Spore, Nematodes and a homemade grub killer. Caution on the homemade one as it contains nicotine which can kill bees.

http://www.permies.com/t/36543/eastern-usa/Grubex-potentially-toxic-bees-kind
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 549
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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thanks guys. And I found Paul's amazing article on lawn care -- http://www.richsoil.com/lawn-care.jsp. If only there were moldy hay on every street corner in the suburbs!
 
Susan Pruitt
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Location: North Carolina, USA Zone 7b
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Bravo Joshua! I provide a gardening service, weeding, hand pruning and shrub healthcare - pretty much everything inside the mulch that the lawn guys don't want to do

Every yard I work in has a lawn service guy broadcasting roundup everywhere (their idea of weeding) and using poisons to control mosquitoes and any other "undesireable" my sophisticated urban homeowners don't want around. Even the clients who sort of care about avoiding toxins will compromise for the quick and easy fix. I love John Elliott's response to tell her this is what is used on golf courses, because of course that's what our clients want too

So I just want to applaud you and anyone else in the lawncare business who is even thinking about, educating himself, and practicing healthier, more sustainable methods !!!
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Thanks for your post and encouragement, Susan! Do you have any symptoms from inhalation of Roundup?

i'm glad I reread John's comment, saying it's used on golf courses does have weight. I'll remember that next time.

I am interested in other incremental ways to move a lawn forward, really really baby baby steps for people so that they see the results. I realize that permaculture is systems-approach-based and that it works much better to make the whole different, but at the same time there's so much innovation on this site about ways to work around or work with what's here. I loved the recent podcast on urban permaculture.

It is exceedingly difficult to get organic hay in the city. How well does leaf mulch from yard waste compare as a second? well, scratch that, no one is going to want to see that on their lawn...any better ideas?maybe I can make a run and get some bales this week, I have a car for a week! woohoo!
 
Susan Pruitt
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Location: North Carolina, USA Zone 7b
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Hey Joshua - no symptoms from Roundup myself that I'm aware of, but of course I worry that all toxins are slow silent killers to our organs and the soil. I haven't even found Roundup to be effective for anything other than tender annual weeds. But it does stunt the growth of azaleas and anything else that gets off-sprayed. I'm not usually around when it is sprayed but I have been gently discouraging it's use by convincing homeowners to tell their lawn guys that I will take care of all weeds and volunteer saplings by digging them out. I certainly understand that getting off the tractor to hand pull weeds is not within the scope of most lawn service mow-blow-and-go contracts. I'm sure my hourly wage is not even close to theirs but most people complain when their lawn guy won't do more. My regular clients have learned that paying me in addition to the lawn service has really improved their landscape and they're happy that each year of digging out the roots and mulching is reducing the amount of time and recurrence of weeds so what they have to pay me shrinks. So as you develop confidence and getting results hopefully you'll be able to enhance your services and charge a bit more I've been thinking about teaming up with a lawn guy so we can offer non-toxic, quality total service. Ever thought about coming to beautiful Piedmont North Carolina ? tee hee

The biggest problem here is Bermuda grass (aka southern wire grass) infiltrating even perfectly healthy sod because it's so prevalent here, the seeds are continually blowing in and finding any little weak spot to settle in. And I'm always criticizing the careless use of weed whackers on the horizontal for edging because it always scalps the good grass there - inviting crabgrass and bermuda and there goes the whole lawn in a couple of years. I would be very interested to hear about your efforts to maintain healthy lawns without chemical pre-emergents and "weed and feed" type products. I'll be happy to share any ideas or info I come across. It sounds like you and I are both in a crazy position where we can educate and have influence but meanwhile having to settle for the modern suburban ideal - darn that Paul Wheaton for infecting my brain - lol! I'm normally the quiet loner type but I get so passionate about eliminating toxins that I might just become an activist in my community - lol! But I digress...into mindless drivel...sorry Paul.

Ahem! Are you looking for organic hay to use when seeding? Others here know more than I about grass growing science but in my experience leaves are a great garden fertilizer or maybe even on existing turf if finely mulched, but would suppress the tiny seedlings. That's another business idea of mine - starting an organic mulch yard - yeah! I'd be open to continuing our conversation in PM.

Keep up the good work!
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 549
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Cool, yes I'll purple moosage you about this too but wanted to post the link to Paul Wheaton's amazing organic lawn-care article--and by the way, when my mom googled organic lawn care, that's the article SHE found! it comes up #1! Woohoo for permies!

http://www.richsoil.com/lawn-care.jsp

This article is awesom!

I wouldn't call myself a lawn expert or anything, I just was there working on her yard and saw the grubs' progress and tried to put in a permaculture solution.

Update on this -- I don't know what she did eventually, she said she was going to go with the mulching over after all, but then next time I called her she said she didn't need me. I can ask.

I'm looking to do more yard work in the Boston area, and throw in an idea here and there, to save people water and money and so on. Not going to mention "permaculture" by name unless it comes up, just "here are some new lawn-care ideas that can save you money and help the planet too" -- and talk about golf courses! (Thanks John!) Even though I've probably never set foot on a golf course.



Susan Pruitt wrote:Hey Joshua - no symptoms from Roundup myself that I'm aware of, but of course I worry that all toxins are slow silent killers to our organs and the soil. I haven't even found Roundup to be effective for anything other than tender annual weeds. But it does stunt the growth of azaleas and anything else that gets off-sprayed. I'm not usually around when it is sprayed but I have been gently discouraging it's use by convincing homeowners to tell their lawn guys that I will take care of all weeds and volunteer saplings by digging them out. I certainly understand that getting off the tractor to hand pull weeds is not within the scope of most lawn service mow-blow-and-go contracts. I'm sure my hourly wage is not even close to theirs but most people complain when their lawn guy won't do more. My regular clients have learned that paying me in addition to the lawn service has really improved their landscape and they're happy that each year of digging out the roots and mulching is reducing the amount of time and recurrence of weeds so what they have to pay me shrinks. So as you develop confidence and getting results hopefully you'll be able to enhance your services and charge a bit more I've been thinking about teaming up with a lawn guy so we can offer non-toxic, quality total service. Ever thought about coming to beautiful Piedmont North Carolina ? tee hee

The biggest problem here is Bermuda grass (aka southern wire grass) infiltrating even perfectly healthy sod because it's so prevalent here, the seeds are continually blowing in and finding any little weak spot to settle in. And I'm always criticizing the careless use of weed whackers on the horizontal for edging because it always scalps the good grass there - inviting crabgrass and bermuda and there goes the whole lawn in a couple of years. I would be very interested to hear about your efforts to maintain healthy lawns without chemical pre-emergents and "weed and feed" type products. I'll be happy to share any ideas or info I come across. It sounds like you and I are both in a crazy position where we can educate and have influence but meanwhile having to settle for the modern suburban ideal - darn that Paul Wheaton for infecting my brain - lol! I'm normally the quiet loner type but I get so passionate about eliminating toxins that I might just become an activist in my community - lol! But I digress...into mindless drivel...sorry Paul.

Ahem! Are you looking for organic hay to use when seeding? Others here know more than I about grass growing science but in my experience leaves are a great garden fertilizer or maybe even on existing turf if finely mulched, but would suppress the tiny seedlings. That's another business idea of mine - starting an organic mulch yard - yeah! I'd be open to continuing our conversation in PM.

Keep up the good work!
 
John Elliott
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Susan Pruitt wrote:
The biggest problem here is Bermuda grass (aka southern wire grass) infiltrating even perfectly healthy sod because it's so prevalent here, the seeds are continually blowing in and finding any little weak spot to settle in. And I'm always criticizing the careless use of weed whackers on the horizontal for edging because it always scalps the good grass there - inviting crabgrass and bermuda and there goes the whole lawn in a couple of years.


I have some Bermuda grass in my garden, but I wouldn't call it a problem. It's not very aggressive, and if it's in the wrong place, I can pull it when I do general weeding. Maybe it is not aggressive because it gets lots of competition: bahia grass, crimson clover, browntop millet, dandelion, prickly lettuce, my "lawn" is a hodgepodge of lots of different species -- the more the better.
 
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